Oro Motor / Feeding
Robin S. Pollak M.S.CCC/SLP
The term toddler is generally applied to children between the ages of eighteen months and three years because they are learning to walk and frequently “toddle” around on wobbly legs. However, age is less important than the developmental and social growth of a child. When children are picky eaters, parents become concerned.
When a child is so selective that every meal is stressful; it is time to look for help.
When a toddler is apprehensive and appears scared to eat or to try textured foods, a parent should look at the types of foods the child enjoys eating as well as whether there is a variety in the child’s diet.
Many children between age 2 – 4 have a limited diet; however, they demonstrate the ability to drink from a straw or cup. They can bite and tear food. They can chew their food.
Transitioning from soft foods
Children usually enjoy the introduction to strained foods and their little tongues eagerly explore the new tastes and textures that are being offered from baby cereals and pureed foods.
They easily coordinate their tongue and lips to swallow the foods being offered. It a fun time they enjoy.
What should my child use to drink?
There are so many articles about the “Sippy cup”.
The Sippy cup is a convenient way to give your child a drink. It provides some independence for your child and it eliminates mess.
Sippy cups are an easy transition from a bottle. Sippy cups are not “BAD” it is important for your child to also drink from a water bottle, straw, and an open cup.
Variety is key.
My baby won’t eat lumpy food
Some babies have a hard time coordinating the movements needed to eat textured food.
There are children who are sensitive to the change in their mouths. The smallest piece scares them.
Some babies find it a lot of work to chew and tire easily.
There are children who gag when they cannot tolerate textures in their food.
When these situations cause eating to be problematic for your child, then your child may benefit from feeding therapy.
Oro Motor/Feeding Therapy
Oral motor therapy involves the use of “non-speech” oral exercise schedules, improving speech production by:
- Increasing the range, accuracy, power, and rate of articulator movements.
- Enhancing voluntary control of oral movements.
- Heightening awareness of oral structures.
- Encouraging “reluctant children” to participate in therapy.
- Warming up the speech musculature.
Providing safe activities to practice how to bite, tear and chew is a highly effective way to encourage a fearful child to eat.
Working closely with parents gives them the tools they need to make each meal a positive experience.
Meals should not be stressful.
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