COVID-19 Updates: Latest Information for Parents

Speech-Language Pathology

Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Some children may choke, gag or cough while eating or drinking. Others may refuse food or not eat enough to grow and develop.

Warning signs

  • Mealtimes that are stressful for parents/caregivers and children because feeding is difficult.
  • Children who need more than 25 minutes to eat age-appropriate foods.
  • Children who only eat certain types of food (e.g. only mashed foods, only crunchy foods).
  • Frequent episodes of coughing, gagging or choking while eating or drinking.
  • Failure to gain weight/height for expected age.
  • Difficulty transitioning from non-oral to oral feeding (e.g., from g-tube).

Things to do with your child

  • Engage children in mealtime preparation. Even very young children can pick out ingredients, help stir and set the table.
  • Ensure foods offered are age-appropriate (for instance, most children are unable to bite and chew solid foods like a cracker until 9 months of age). Know the feeding/eating milestones.
  • Praise children when they try a new food or new texture of food.
  • Make eating a fun family affair by limiting excess noise and distracters, such as toys or TV.
  • Talk and read about food and social events involving food (such as Thanksgiving, birthday parties or the book “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss).