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How to Deal with Feeding & Swallowing Disorder?

It would be an awkward question if you are asked how you eat. First of all, you take the food or drink closer to your mouth and hold fork, spoon or straw. Then, you just open the mouth to take the food in. Now, chew the food or move the drink to make it ready for being swallowed. We, adults, are familiar with this process. But this is not easy for the infants. They need proper training to get used to this. In most of the cases, children start by sucking and in the second step; they learn how to eat solid foods and drinks from a cup. In the beginning, they would have some problems. Their drinks may spill from their mouths or they may spread food everywhere from their mouth. This is normal and every child does the same. This habit goes away with child’s growth and development. But, if your child continuously faces the problem, he/she might have a feeding disorder.

Apart from feeding disorder, there are many children who suffer from swallowing disorder, commonly known as “Dysphagia”  There are three phases of swallowing;

  • Oral Phase– Activities included in oral phase are sucking, chewing, moving food or drinks, and feeding.
  • Pharyngeal Phase– This phase starts with swallowing and squeezing food. The children should close off their airway in order to keep the food or drink out. Food going on the airway can result in coughing and choke.
  • Esophageal Phase– In this phase, esophagus opens and closes. It squeezes food down to the stomach. There are chances of the food being stuck in the esophagus. Even, sometimes, a child may throw up most of the food if there any problem in the esophagus.

Signs and Symptoms of Feeding and Swallowing Disorder

You can easily identify whether your child has a feeding or swallowing problem or not. Your child has feeding or swallowing problem if he:

  • Arches his back
  • Cries or fusses during feeding
  • Gets sleepy while feeding
  • Faces breathing problem while eating or drinking
  • Hates to eat
  • Faces problems in chewing

Treatment for Feeding and Swallowing Disorder

There are two types of treatments available for feeding and swallowing disorder:

  • Medical treatment
  • Feeding therapy

If you consider feeding therapy, the therapist will try to make the muscle of your child’s mouth stronger, help him move the tongue, teach him to chew properly etc. Besides, you should try these tips listed below:

  • Change the position of your child while feeding
  • Teach the child to try new foods
  • Try different ways to deal with the child’s changing behavior
  • Try to make healthy food as per the taste of your child

A Final Takeaway

If you find your child struggling with feeding and swallowing problem for a long time, you should immediately consult a Speech Therapist.

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