The top two reasons our practice sees kids for feeding challenges under 12 months old are anatomical &/or physiological issues.
What do anatomical &/or physiological issues really mean?
- Anatomical: Challenges breaking down food as a result of restrictions in the mouth or obstruction of the airway &/or
- Physiological: Allergies/reflux that may be limiting their intake of foods
Restrictions in the mouth can include poor tongue movement, pocketing of foods in the cheeks, restrictions (lip, tongue, cheek ties) spillage of the food from the mouth due to jaw/tongue weaknesses. Minimal movement or too much movement of the jaw during feeding time. Tongue protrusion out of the mouth, effecting the ability to bring food back. Immature chewing patterns, such as a munch chew instead of a rotary chew.
Other anatomical issues resulting in feeding challenges can come from enlarged tonsils or adenoids, cleft palates, palatal growth abnormalities and other various anatomical issues
Allergies and reflux are also common and should be ruled out and are referred out to pediatric allergists or pediatric gastroenterologists.
From our experience we see that some babies who have had months with these untreated issues will later show picky eating, preferred eating, &/or poor weight gain. Therefore, even though the anatomical or physiological issues may have been cleared up, the history of them can lead to problems with feeding down the road. Monitoring and thinking about the growth of the child is addressed during therapy.
Not only is it important to get an evaluation done by a trained speech pathologist in this area for feeding, but some of these children will have speech issues due to the issues discussed. We can’t predict what or how the severity of these speech issues might be, but we do see patterns across time, which we can work to prevent early on.