A Short Guide to Help You Care for Children with Dysphagia

Caring for children with swallowing difficulties—also known as dysphagia—can be incredibly challenging. Not only are you faced with the prospect of finding food and drinks that your child actually enjoys, but you also need to make sure they are safe to consume. 

Swallowing difficulties require special care and attention to ensure your child’s nutritional needs are met while at the same time reducing the risk of choking, aspiration, and other complications during mealtimes. 

Here is a short guide to help you care for children with dysphagia.

Provide Age-Appropriate, Nutritious Foods

According to Children’s Health, swallowing difficulties are common in kids: between 25% and 45% of children have some form of dysphagia. To ensure your child consumes a well-balanced diet that is safe and nutritious, make sure you provide them with healthy, age-appropriate food items that meet their nutritional requirements.

Soft and moist foods are usually easier to swallow; they include pureed vegetables, tender meats, and soft fruits. You can also incorporate tasty foods with a soft texture, such as yogurt and custard, while blended smoothies can provide children with a visually appealing beverage that is full of vitamins.

Modify the Textures
Modifying the texture and consistency of food and drinks can make swallowing easier for kids. Besides blending and pureeing, you can also modify the texture of food using thickening products. Simply Thick EasyMix mix-in powder can be combined with different types of fluids to alter the viscosity levels, which can make food and drinks more palatable for children. 

Before using these types of products, however, make sure you speak to a healthcare professional to ensure proper usage and texture.

Practice Safe Swallowing Techniques
Speech therapists can educate you about safe techniques and exercises that will strengthen the muscles used when swallowing, which you can practice with your child. These techniques are designed to improve the swallowing function, thus making the consumption of food and drinks a safer experience. 

Practicing these techniques with your child will help them ensure they swallow safely when you’re not around, while the exercises can help make swallowing easier.

Be Mindful About Temperature Variations

Temperature can play an integral part in making food more appealing to children. Some kids with dysphagia may have temperature preferences, but they may not realize it. Experimenting with temperature and offering dishes with varying, safe temperatures can stimulate their taste buds. For instance, try serving warm, pureed soup followed by a chilled fruit yogurt and monitor your child’s reaction. Contrasting temperatures can add interest to mealtimes and make eating more satisfying.

Monitor Mealtimes

Monitoring how your child eats and drinks during mealtimes can help ensure they have healthy habits that facilitate optimum swallowing. Make sure they always sit in an upright position while eating and that their chin is tilted slightly down so that food can effectively travel from the throat to the stomach. Depending on their age, you can try cutting their food into smaller pieces and encouraging them to chew their food in a slow and deliberate manner to reduce the risk of choking.

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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