Objective | Philosophy & Content | Levels of Participation
Starter Kit | Workshop | Outreach Programs


The Mealtime Partners Program provides an integrated overview, in-depth understanding, and individualized guided experience in developing and implementing home-based mealtime programs for children with special feeding challenges. The program addresses the needs of children, parents, and professionals.


The Mealtime Partners Programconcept is based on the premise that children are born with the inner ability to eat and to grow appropriately. During infancy they learn to interact with adults as they expand their eating skills and enjoy both the food and the mealtime environment. Some children experience a disruption of this normal cycle because of difficulties in physical, sensory, structural, and environmental skills and opportunities. Coordination problems may interfere with the ability to suck, swallow or chew food. Sensory processing difficulties can contribute to stress and discomfort during eating. Gastrointestinal discomfort contributes a negative association between food and the desire to eat. Parents and therapists often respond to the child’s difficulty with eating or eating refusal with pressure and an attempt to control the type and amount of food that the child eats. Battles for control disrupt the entire mealtime and reduce eating to an unpleasant contest for everyone.

Mealtime Partners
is based on a trust model of intervention, which will be reflected at every level of the program. Children inherently want to eat and want to interact with the partners who share the meal with them. When they do not, something is getting in the way. Identification of the roadblocks that limit the development of eating skills and comfort is essential in helping children return to their natural desire to be part of mealtimes. The mealtime and the child’s comfort and desire to learn to eat are the most important elements of the Mealtime Partners Program.Strategies designed to increase physical coordination, sensory processing and integration, gastrointestinal comfort, communication and oral-motor control are incorporated to support the child’s eating skill and desires. All children can participate in a shared mealtime that is happy and rewarding for both the child and family.

Each level of the program will provide information and concrete strategies to support the child and parent in the following components of a mealtime program:

  • Beliefs and Attitudes
  • Mealtime Partnership
  • Mealtime Communication
  • Sensory Processing
  • Gastrointestinal Comfort
  • Positioning and Movement
  • Oral Feeding Skills


Levels of Participation

The Mealtime Partners Programwill include three levels of learning and involvement with the concepts and strategies underlying mealtimes for infants and children.

    Mealtime Partners Starter Kit
    Mealtime Partners Workshop
    Phone and Video Consultations

Each level of the program will be completed in sequence, but will have intrinsic value at each phase of the program. Parents and professionals may go as far into the programmed sequence as they desire


The Mealtime Partners Starter Kitbrings together a set of carefully selected books that open the doorway to understanding the many components that contribute to happy, efficient, and skillful mealtimes. Strategies and specific activities to support the development of children’s mealtime and eating skills are featured in each book. This special collection includes the following books:

  • Pre-Feeding Skills: A Comprehensive Resource for Mealtime Development, 2nd Edition
    by Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., and Marsha Dunn Klein, M.Ed., OTR
    The new 2nd edition of Pre-Feeding Skillsis completely revised and expanded into a text that focuses on the entire mealtime experience and feeding relationship for children from birth to adolescence. The book includes foundational information about normal feeding development, anatomy and physiology of feeding and swallowing, and limiting factors that influence feeding. Assessment and treatment principles and strategies are thoroughly explored. All chapters have been updated to include new art, current research, references and trends. 12 new chapters have been added since the 1st edition.
    Read in depth about--
    • Mealtime Foundations, Influences and Roles
    • Assessment Observation, Testing and Planning
    • Treatment Principles and Perspectives
    • Specifics of Oral Motor Treatment
    • Learning and Communication at Mealtime
    • Positioning and Handling Influences at Mealtime
    • Sensory Influences at Mealtime
    • Nutritional Influences at Mealtime
    • Self-Feeding
    • Feeding Materials and Resources
    • Children Who Experience: Prematurity, Visual Impairment, Gastrointestinal Discomfort, Autism
    • Children Who are Tube-Fed
    • Children Who Don’t Eat Enough
  • How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much
    by Ellyn Satter, RD, A.C.S.W.
    covers how to feed children, the parent/child and caregiver/child feeding relationship, developing good eating habits at an early age, etc. It discusses general issues (such as what is normal eating, does pressure work) and has separate chapters for newborns, older babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children, and teenagers.
  • Happiness is a Choice
    by Barry Neil Kaufman
    Effective programs for children with feeding problems depend equally upon "what we do" and "how we do it." Happiness is a Choiceprovides the ingredients for the how of therapy. The Option Process approaches each child and family from a base of happiness and knowledge that change comes most easily when approached from a base of unconditional love and acceptance of each individual. Barry Kaufman has observed that people who are most successful in finding happiness share certain traits. He has used these traits to create six shortcuts to happiness that you can begin using immediately. This is a wonderful book for everyone working with families and children with feeding and oral-motor difficulties.

Enjoy a 10% savings over the per-book cost when you purchase these books together.
To order, call the Mealtimescatalog at (800) 606-7112 or go to the Mealtimes Online Store.
Item number B-88-06, Mealtime Partners Starter Kit,$110 plus shipping/handling.


The Mealtime Partners Workshop, "Becoming a Mealtime Partner", is a three-day weekend workshop (Friday,Saturday and Sunday) for eight to ten parents and professionals working with children with feeding challenges. Workshop participants send a videotape and completed questionnaire providing specific information on their child a month before the workshop. The workshop has a fixed content and format but is customizable in terms of information, emphasis, and the video examples used. The content centers on the most important areas for helping children develop the comfort, skills, and confidence to participate happily in a mealtime and expand the skills that lead toward competent and efficient oral feeding. Participants must be familiar with information from the Mealtime Partners Starter Kitbefore coming to the workshop. Workshop participants receive a manual containing a review of the foundational concepts and very specific strategies and techniques that support the fundamental development of mealtime and feeding skills. The workshop is highly experiential in nature.

The workshop enables the participant to--

  • understand the interactive role played by beliefs and attitudes, the mealtime partnership, mealtime communication, gastrointestinal comfort, sensory processing, positioning and movement, and oral feeding abilities in the development of mealtime skills
  • identify the key issues that influence a child’s ability to eat and drink happily and efficiently
  • understand and implement an appropriate division of responsibility at mealtimes
  • help children develop greater trust and confidence in their relationship to food
  • develop children’s inner ability to self-regulate eating and drinking
  • introduce new foods into a child’s diet
  • create comfortable, happy mealtimes
  • create a positive mealtime for children who eat through a feeding tube
  • develop a trust-based treatment program that nourishes the child's ability to develop and enhance feeding skills
  • develop a home-centered program to develop skills to support feeding and mealtimes


Course content is presented in a multimedia, experiential format. Audiovisual materials, small group discussion, problem-solving sessions, movement exploration, and accelerated learning technology assist each participant to enhance skills used in becoming a full mealtime partner for children with oral-feeding problems. A limit in group size to 10 participants assures each participant of individual attention and consideration of specific questions and problems. Question and answer forums will address critical questions and concerns. The workshop provides a special opportunity to brainstorm and network with other parents and professionals facing similar challenges.

Specific Topics

  • foundations for assessment and treatment of feeding and mealtime issues—
    • beliefs and attitudes
    • physical coordination
    • sensory comfort and integration
    • gastrointestinal comfort
    • oral-sensorimotor coordination
  • positive mealtimes for everyone
  • creating a nourishing, supportive environment for learning to eat
  • building sensory and gastrointestinal comfort at mealtimes
  • developing efficient sucking, swallowing, biting and chewing skills
  • readiness for weaning from a feeding tube
  • mealtime partners (children, parents, therapists)
  • the family-centered program
  • therapeutic approaches to daily activities

Three Mealtime Partners Workshopswill be offered during 2006. Parents and professionals who have completed the workshop are eligible to participate in telephone or video consultations through the Mealtime Outreach Services.

2014 Workshop Dates:

  • October 24 - 26, 2014

Workshop Location

Mealtime Partners Workshops are held at New Visions in Virginia, near the town of Nellysford. We are located in a rural setting in the serene atmosphere of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain foothills 30 miles southwest of Charlottesville, Virginia. Participants lodge at a nearby bed & breakfast. Rooms are attractive and moderately priced.


Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., is a speech-language pathologist in private practice. She is nationally and internationally known for her work in identifying and treating young children with pre-speech and language disorders. Dr. Morris maintains a practice which includes direct clinical work, continuing education workshops, development of clinical materials and clinical research. She is the director of New Visions, which sponsors innovative workshops for the teaching of feeding-related skills, and provides family-oriented clinical services. Dr. Morris has studied Neurodevelopmental Treatment approaches extensively in England, Switzerland, and the United States. She is the author of the Pre-Speech Assessment Scale,a rating scale for the measurement of pre-speech behaviors in children from birth through two years, and coauthor of Pre-Feeding Skills: A Comprehensive Resource for Feeding Development,and the Mealtime Participation Guide.

Suzanne has studied accelerated learning approaches and technology through the Optimalearning Institute, the Center for Accelerated Learning and The Monroe Institute. She is a folk musician who blends her musical background with an intimate knowledge of movement, sensory processing, communication and learning.

Suzanne is joined in each workshop by a Parent Teaching Partner, Fran McDermott, who will share her personal journey with a child with feeding challenges.

2014 Fees

  • Regular Workshop Fee $875
  • Workshop Partner Fee $825 -- when two or more participants represent one child in the same workshop.

Fee includes

  • 3-day workshop
  • 3 lunches
  • workshop manual
  • two-hour review of a child’s videotape and written materials.

For more detailed information on the workshop go to Mealtime Partner's Workshop. For Frequently Asked Questions, see FAQS.

To register for the workshop — call (800) 606-7112 ext. 5, or e-mail


The Mealtime Outreach Programprovides opportunities for telephone consultation and video consultation for parents and professionals who have attended the Mealtime Partners Workshop.