How to decrease suckling in older children with Down Syndrome

It is very important..right from birth to follow the pre-feeding exercises I have posted about…(my many thanks as always going out to Lori Overland and Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson from  Following the pre-feeding exercises will improve your little one’s tongue retraction, lip rounding and will help to decrease tongue protrusion.  Also following the chewing hierarchy will target these specific oral motor feeding skills as well.  Be sure to look to the right of my blog for the four levels of the chewing hierarchy.

Below is a simple strategy that you can use in order to decrease suckling in older children with Down Syndrome….especially if she has teeth…and you can no longer use your finger or the Infra-Dent in order to stimulate the back molar ridge.  So if you child is not yet chewing food….and you need to address chewing skills (of course follow the chewing hierarchy)…but also try this strategy below in order to improve chewing skills.



Take a straw…bend the bottom and clip it with a binder clip

Fill the straw with a highly flavored liquid…and then freeze

Once frozen present the straw perpendicular to the lateral molar ridge (the same way you target chewing hierarchy level number 1).  Your little one should be biting on the end of the straw that is not clipped (obviously)…this way when biting…she is getting small pieces of the icy)

Once your child is able to bite three times on both sides of her mouth…and..she chews and then swallows the bolus…she may be ready to have solid foods presented on her back molar ridge.

Remember to be sure to follow the chewing hierarchy.

Also remember that food should not be presented on the tongue…this will encourage a suckle pattern.

And when spoon-feeding be sure to follow the model I have posted on my Down Syndrome tab to the top of my blog (you should be doing the upper lip mobility exercises in order to increase strength and mobility for feeding and for speech production of course!)

Please post with any questions or comments.



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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