Oral-Feeding Disorders in Children

Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Children

Signs of Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Your child may have a feeding or swallowing problem if she:

  • Arches her back or stiffens when feeding
  • Cries or fusses when feeding
  • Falls asleep when feeding
  • Has problems breast feeding
  • Has trouble breathing while eating and drinking
  • Refuses to eat or drink
  • Eats only certain textures, such as soft food or crunchy food
  • Takes a long time to eat
  • Has problems chewing
  • Coughs or gags during meals
  • Drools a lot or has liquid come out her mouth or nose
  • Gets stuffy during meals
  • Has a gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice during or after meals
  • Spits up or throws up a lot
  • Is not gaining weight or growing

Causes of Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

There are many possible causes for feeding and swallowing problems, including:

  • nervous system disorders, like cerebral palsy or meningitis
  • reflux or other stomach problems
  • being premature or having a low birth weight
  • heart disease
  • cleft lip or palate
  • breathing problems, like asthma or other diseases
  • autism
  • head and neck problems
  • muscle weakness in the face and neck
  • medicines that make her sleepy or not hungry
  • sensory issues
  • behavior problems

Treatment for Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

The SLP or feeding team may suggest:

  • medical treatment, like medicines for reflux
  • feeding therapy
  • trying different foods or adding calories to food
  • ways to get your child to try new foods or textures
  • changing hot or cold food

The SLP may work as part of a feeding team. Other team members may include:

  • an occupational therapist
  • a physical therapist
  • a physician or nurse
  • a dietitian or nutritionist
  • a developmental specialist
  • a social worker
  • a lactation consultant