Mealtime Stressors: Reflux and Spoon Feeding

For the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts with a focus on issues related to feeding – how to know what’s normal for your infant and toddler or when to seek help. This week’s installment focuses on reflux and spoon feeding. Last week’s post was on bottle and breast feeding troubles; future posts will discuss pacifiers and sippy cups, and picky eaters. 

Is meal time a stressor for you?

Getting our little ones to eat enough, and sometimes AT ALL, can be stressful. They may have deficits with their swallowing function and/or oral motor coordination skills that can have a negative impact on feeding. Keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms below to see what they are trying to tell us.

8 Sneaky Signs and Symptoms of Reflux

One well-known and clear symptom of reflux is projectile spit up, but reflux sometimes produces symptoms that aren’t so easy to identify. Following are some sneaky signs of reflux that, when caught early, can help prevent feeding issues later on:

  1. Drooling, especially episodic
  2. Bad breath
  3. Frequent hiccups/burping
  4. Arching of the body
  5. Frequent tongue pumping
  6. Excessive or abnormal sweating
  7. Excessive swallowing
  8. Eating only small amounts

6 Questions About Spoon Feeding Readiness

Most babies are able to begin accepting food on a spoon between four and six months of age. Following are six questions to help determine if your child is ready for spoon feeding:

  1. Is your child able to hold their head up while sitting on a lap? Are they able to adjust their head and maintain head control when tipped slightly backward or forward?
  2. Is your child leaning forward for the spoon? Are they opening their mouth to accept the spoon before the spoon touches their lips?
  3. Is your child older than 6 months and still pushing food out with his tongue? Does the food stay in the mouth or is it constantly “recycled?”
  4. Is your child consistently gagging on various textures, consistencies and/or flavors?
  5. Is your child able to clear the spoon by using their upper lip or are you having to scrape the food on their lip/gum for them?
  6. Does your child have a “gurgling” vocal quality after meals? Does the “gurgle” clear quickly?

Long before children can talk, feeding issues can begin to “chip away” at life skills, so it’s important to address any problems early on. If, after considering the above signs, symptoms and questions, you feel your child could have reflux or difficulties with spoon feeding, consider talking to a licensed speech pathologist/feeding specialist.

Many of our therapists at Kid’s Creek Therapy have feeding experience and some are trained in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding. If you or someone you know would like to learn more about how we can help your child, contact us for a free consultation.

Jessica Orlick, MS, CCC-SLP

Photo Courtesy of Rick Carter/flickr. Title banner added.

 

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