Have you got a child with developmental delays? Are you struggling with their weaning? Maybe they got onto purees ok, but they are gagging on lumps and finger foods?
When your child takes puree from a spoon, they can use a similar backwards-forwards sucking tongue pattern to the one they use when they take milk from the bottle or breast.
But dealing with solids or lumpy purees is a much more complex task. Your jaw needs to go up and down (to bite through things, and get those teeth mashing food), and your tongue needs to go side to side (to move the food to your teeth in the first place).
Your child needs some good underlying skills to accomplish this complicated task! If your child can’t sit yet, they won’t be stable enough in their core to do sophisticated things with their jaw, lips, or tongue.
When you give your child lumps, but they don’t have the underlying skills, they’ve got no choice but to suck on them. The forwards-backward tongue motion pushes the lumps forwards and out of their mouth, or backwards where they might stimulate a gag.
So if you want your child to progress with their mouth skills, you need to pay attention to their sitting. They don’t need to be completely stable, but a good sign is if they can sit in play, and use their arms and hands to interact with toys at the same time.
Whether they sit at 6 months, 2 years or way beyond this, the same principle will apply, and you’re not likely to be able to progress their skills safely (eating textures they are not ready for will put them at risk of choking and having foods enter their lungs- aspiration).
Some of our young people with physical disability will need chairs or other equipment to gain enough stability to work on their mouth skills. There will be more posts on children with more complex physical disability to come.
Look out also for posts on small changes you can make to your child’s seating to help their oral skills, and the kinds of foods that are likely to help them to progress.
Posts from ‘Find the Key Speech Therapy’ are intended for information. They are not intended to, and cannot take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows your child and their circumstances. ‘Find the Key Speech Therapy’ does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.