How to help your newborn with Down Syndrome….yes’s and no’s

I am starting off my post with a big thank you to both Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson from and of course to Lori Overland…also from for teaching me so much.  I have not met either of them…but have purchased many DVD’s through talk tools.

So today’s post is regarding information that is essential to your newborn baby with Down Syndrome……well pertinent information for you as the mama…some yes’s and no’s…things you should do…and things you should not do.  I hope the information is helpful….and be sure to pass this on if you know a mama who is pregnant with a children with Down Syndrome.



Pacifiers:  The question of using a pacifier or not.  In children with Down Syndrome…while they are still bottle or breast feeding…a pacifier helps the mouth and the muscles in the mouth so that your baby feeds more successfully.  When your baby no longer is nursing or drinking from the bottle…you must remove the pacifier.  ***A pacifier is also easier to get rid of then your thumb (if your little one is a thumb sucker).

Toys:  Be sure to choose infant toys your little one will bite on and not suckle on.  When your little one sucks on a toy…this promotes the forward tongue movement…something we do not want.  When your little one bites on a toy…this encourges tongue retraction.

Highly flavored foods: Highly flavored foods gives your little one good sensory information.  A child with Down Syndrome presents with hyposensitivity when it comes to taste and temperature.  So she may prefer foods that are colder and have more flavor.  Adding cinnamon or nutmeg to baby cereal adds additional sensory information…so when your little one is eating…she may be more successful due to the additional flavor.  Your little one’s sensory system requires more information….more flavor will help the sensory system and then the motor system for chewing.


Solids on the back molar ridges: When your little one is ready for cubed food be sure that you place the food on the back molar ridges…NOT on the tongue.  If you place the food on the tongue…your little one will suckle on the food.  Food placed on the back molar ridge helps your little one with the lateral chew and tongue retraction!!!


Straw drinking: Around 6-7 months you can begin to teach straw drinking.  Be sure to use the Honey Bear offered through  After your little one is able to drink four ounces out of the Honey Bear on her own…you will begin with the straws in the straw hierarchy….also through talk tools.  Be sure to look on the right of my blog for information on following the straw hierarchy.


Encouraging the phasic bite:  Place your pointer finger on the gum ridge in the back of your little one’s mouth in order to encourage the phasic bite.   This phasic bite will then eventually develop into the chew (you and will need to follow the four levels of the chewing hierarchy in order to help your little one develop the rotary chew).  This information is also to the right of my blog. When encouraging the phasic bite…first use a gloved finger…and place on the back molar ridge..on the left side and then on the right side.  Once your little one is able to bite ten times on both sides…then use the finger cuff….and finally the Probe.


Okay…now the NO’s!



Raspberries: Do not encourage raspberries in your little one.  This promotes tongue protrusion (this is that silly sound that little’s like to make with their tongue and lips).

Pressing on the tongue tip: Do not press on the tongue tip to push the tongue back inside of your little one’s mouth.  This will encourage your little one to push back on your finger..and will encourage tongue protrusion.

Pressing down on the tongue:Do not push down on the tongue…this also will encourage the tongue to move forward.

Mixed texture (Stage three baby foods): The stage three baby foods have two textures…the pureed texture and the chunks of foods that require chewing.  The pureed foods just needs to be swallowed…however…the chunks of food do require chewing.  This consistency is more challenging for children with muscle weakness.  It is hard for them to separate the two textures…and they will just swallow both textures and not chew the little pieces….we want to encourage chewing.  I also have found that the mixed textures are harder for them to manage due to their hypersensitivity to texture.

Food on the tongue: Remember NO FOOD ON THE TONGUE!!!!! This promotes tongue protrusion…food should be placed on the back molar ridge (when they are ready to begin cubed foods).




I hope this was helpful.  Post with any questions.



About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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