Feeding & Swallowing

How do I know if my baby is hungry?

Some signs of readiness to feed are:

  • Your baby is awake or is more active before it is time to eat
  • If baby is awake but crying, you can use a pacifier to calm him/her before feeding
  • If baby is asleep he/she is easy to wake up by changing the diaper or blanket, or giving a pacifier
  • Arms and legs are close to body
  • Sucking on hands and pacifier
  • Rooting (looking for the nipple)

What are some signs of distress during feedings?

  • Color change (pale, blue, or blotchy)
  • Increased sleepiness or sagging cheeks and chin, which may mean your baby does not have the energy to continue.
  • Restlessness, increased fussiness or crying, and/or arching back
  • Wrinkled forehead
  • Fingers stretched out
  • Yawning or hiccupping
  • Drooling, spitting up
  • Coughing
  • Gulping
  • Choking
  • Breathing problems (nasal flaring, grunting, retractions)

What can I do to help my baby eat successfully?

  • Dim lights, no talking, don't rock, and move baby quickly
  • Swaddle your baby in blankets with his/her hands near the face
  • Touch the baby's lips with the nipple and wait for him/her to turn toward the nipple and open the mouth. This is known as rooting.
  • If the baby does not root, then your baby is saying he/she is not ready to eat at this time.
  • Let your baby decide when to suck and when to breathe.

What harmful interventions should I be aware of?

The following may be harmful to your baby:

  • Forcing the nipple into baby's mouth.
  • Pumping milk into baby's mouth.
  • Pushing the nipple against the roof of the mouth or twisting or turning the nipple into the baby's mouth.
  • Moving the baby's jaw or squeezing the cheeks.
  • Pushing the baby to feed during a pause.
  • Continuing to feed if the baby is showing signs of distress.

Speech-Language Pathologists are available to serve all age groups. Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Services include:

  • Performing *videofluoroscopic swallow studies to determine whether your child is aspirating (the entry of food/liquid into the airway)

*A videofluoroscopic swallow study examines the flow of solids and liquids during swallowing. During the examination (x-ray) different consistencies of food/liquid are mixed with barium and fed via bottle or spoon. The anatomy and physiology of the swallow is then determined.

Recommendations and interventions may include:

  • Determining appropriate nipple types and sizes for your child.
  • Determining appropriate liquid consistency.
  • Demonstrating appropriate feeding positions.
  • Demonstrating oral stimulation to aid in feeding success.

For more information, please contact a Speech-Language Pathologist at any of the following Professional Therapy Services locations.