Eating, drinking and swallowing
Swallowing is an activity that most of us do not even think about, it just happens.
Children develop at different rates and there may be a reason why your child is not progressing through the typical development.
Age around 6 months
- A cup may be introduced with adult support along with the breast or bottle.
- Pureed foods are introduced.
- Baby might ‘spit out’ the food initially as their tongue will still move forward and backward but they gradually learn to suck the food from the spoon.
Age 12 months
- Baby continues to develop stability with cup drinking. It is normal to lose some liquid while they are learning what to do with their tongue and jaw.
- The tongue might protrude under the cup to provide stability.
- Managing lumpier textures now.
- Firmer foods can be chopped up and more varieties of food can be held in the hand.
- Food from a spoon should be thicker.
Age 2 years
- Should be able to stabilise the cup.
- Should be coping with a range of tastes and textures.
- Can chew with lips closed.
If you are concerned about the development of your child’s eating and drinking skills, please speak to your health visitor or your GP. They may be able to offer you advice and support.
Tips and ideas
You may also find it useful to try the following tips and ideas:
Always ensure your child is in an upright position for safe eating and drinking.
Have fun with food. The messier the better!
Introduce one new taste per week.
Introduce a small amount of food at a time.
Don’t make what the child is eating the focus of attention.
Make neutral comments, such as don’t show your feelings if the child tries or doesn’t try it.
Reduce the number of foods the child can choose from.
Ensure there are minimal distractions at mealtimes.
Ensure consistency between feeders, such as mum and dad do the same thing.
If your child likes to have a toy while eating, have specific toys for this time.
Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties.
Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can’t swallow at all.
Other signs of dysphagia include:
- coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
- a sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest
- persistent drooling of saliva
- being unable to chew food properly
- a gurgly, wet-sounding voice when eating or drinking
Over time, dysphagia can also cause symptoms such as weight loss and repeated chest infections.