Partners In Learning Blog Team

Partners In Learning Blog Team
Blog Team

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"POP" goes the bubble! [Oral Motor Skills]

Does your toddler drool excessively? Is their speech delayed? Do they often have trouble chewing and swallowing solid foods?

Excessive Drooling

Many children experience mild to severe oral motor delays, which can impact their speech development as they grow older.

If your child is finished cutting teeth, but is still drooling excessively or if they tend to choke on small pieces of food, their swallowing mechanisms, oral muscles, and other motor skills may be diminished.


While many different parts of the mouth can be to blame for these issues, these oral motor skills are essential to chewing, sucking, swallowing, keeping the jaw closed, as well as talking.

While some of these quirks may be annoying, such as constantly wiping your child's chin, changing their saliva-soaked bibs and clothes multiple times per day, as well as constantly worrying that your child will choke while eating, there are simple techniques you can use to strengthen those oral motor muscles.

Plastic bibs

Chewy Tubes (~$10 each) can be used as necklaces for your child to gnaw on throughout the day. (You can also buy aquarium tubing at Walmart or Lowes for approximately $3 and put a string through it as a homemade version.)

Chewy Tubes, Ps & Qs

Prior to feeding your child, provide oral stimulation to 'awaken' their muscles and prepare them for the act of eating. Z-vibes (~$30-40, on my wish list!!) are perfect for this stimulation; they vibrate and provide a great sensation that activates muscles and salivation. However, an electric toothbrush is a cheaper idea. There are also oral stimulator tools made by Nuk that are around $7, they do not vibrate, but have small bumps that provide extra stimulation. I personally use a Nuk for the children I see and it works just fine, plus the kids love it!


Some simple, fun, and cheap exercises involve, blowing bubbles (and saying "pop" when popping them), blowing on whistles, blowing paper/cotton balls across the table (blowing on cottons balls through a straw), sucking through a straw (especially thick liquids, such as a milkshake), making silly faces with your lips in a mirror, holding a popsicle stick between lips.

Take away/limit use of a pacifier. Take away the bottle and provide a sippy cup. Encourage your child to suck through cups with straws.

If drooling is the issue, consistently touch your child's lip and remind them to swallow. You can also put a terrycloth wristband on their wrist and teach them how to wipe their own chin, while encouraging your child not to be wet anymore.

If you are still concerned about your child's oral motor skills, contact your physician and consider an occupational or speech therapist.

Using my Nuk before lunchtime with this little guy! (He honestly eats twice as much when he chews on this!)
Katie Zink, ITFS/P


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