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Understanding Feeding & Swallowing Disorders

Does your child have trouble eating or swallowing?

As someone who eats three meals a day, you may have forgotten that you once had to learn how to eat. Children have to learn the same way. Babies are born to suck. As they grow, children start eating solid foods and eventually learn how to drink from a cup. But what if there’s an issue? And where can parents seek help?

Why Does My Child Have Trouble Eating?

All children will have some trouble in the beginning with eating and swallowing. They may push food back out or gag. Usually this goes away with time. If your child continues to only eat certain foods or has difficulty swallowing, this could be a feeding or swallowing disorder. A swallowing disorder is otherwise known as dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh).

What Causes Feeding And Swallowing Problems And How Do I Know If My Child Has a Problem?

There are a number of possibilities. Nervous system disorders like cerebral palsy, reflux or other stomach problems, heart disease, cleft lips or palates, sensory issues, or behavior problems can be a root cause of feeding or swallowing problems.

You may recognize signs like your child arching his or her back, crying or fussing during meals, having trouble breastfeeding, refusing to eat or drink, having problems chewing, coughing, gagging, drooling a lot, or being unable to gain weight and grow.

What Can SLPs Do About Feeding And Swallowing?

Trouble with eating can affect a child’s health and learning. If you think your child has a feeding or swallowing problem, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will watch how your child moves his or her mouth and tongue, eats, and behaves during meals.

After an evaluation, an SLP may suggest tests, medical treatment, feeding therapy, or trying out different food textures and temperatures, new eating positions, or behavior strategies. The SLP may also work with your child to strengthen the muscles in the mouth and help with chewing, sensory issues, and posture.

We’re here to help. If you think your child may have an issue with feeding or swallowing, schedule a visit with us and help your child live a more fulfilling life.

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dyslexia