What Are Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Parents are often the first to notice feeding problems. Poor feeding may mean that the child has difficulty chewing, or drinking from a bottle or a cup. Some children may choke or gag on food while others drool and food spills out of the mouth. At times it may be the texture of the food that the child finds unacceptable, i.e.: too hard or mushy. Some doctors report poor weight gain, yet many children with feeding problems find foods that are acceptable and eat those specific foods, maintaining the necessary caloric intake for weight gain. Frequent respiratory infections or pneumonia may result from food or liquids being aspirated into the airway.

Oral motor problems are often present in the child with feeding problems. The suck-swallow-breathing patterns in infants may be poorly coordinated. Muscles of the tongue, jaw and lips may be too weak with chewing patterns underdeveloped. Lip closure and tongue lateralization may be affected.