I have come to the conclusion that getting over the mess is a big part of parenting. Noah is messy just eating with his own hands and today I am about to hand him a rocket launcher.
Ok, maybe not a rocket launcher, but close enough!
Until I had Noah I had no idea how important eating was to the strengthening of muscles in the mouth and eventual speech development. From breast feeding or bottle feeding tousing a straw to moving solid food around your mouth with your tongue, all of this helps your mouth develop the ability to talk.
Check out those strong mouth muscles!
Noah was in feeding therapy for a few months prior to 6 months of age to help him drink from a bottle. He breast fed great but when it came to the bottle it was a different story, and this mama had to go back to work. He was actually deemed by his speech therapist as one of the hardest kids she has ever tried to feed simply because he wouldn’t hold still. Once we figured out how to stabilize Noah’s core and trunk he started to eat much better. We found that he actually ate best in his car seat which was handy. During this time time we got introduced to the Nuk brush and Z-vibe. They are similar devices and we have used them a variety of ways.
Oral Motor Therapy
One reason Noah improved with eating is that we started doing oral motor therapy. Theses are basically exercises and stretches for the mouth that help build strength. We used Beckman Oral Motor Exercises, but there are others available as well. One disappointing fact if that there is not a lot of research showing that this works, but in my opinion the research just hasn’t been done correctly yet. All of the studies that I found are pretty poor. I think it is definitely something to explore with your speech therapist.
The Nuk and z-vibe are excellent stimulation devices for the mouth and tongue. We were often told to wake up Noah’s mouth muscles simply by rubbing these devices around the mouth, on the cheeks, gums and tongue. It has helped Noah be able to brush his teeth and eat new textures. I know that texture sensitivity can be an issue for a lot of our kids and this is one way to work on helping the mouth tolerate new sensations.
Learning to eat (not) using his hands!
The nuk came in handy today as Noah’s first eating utensil. Our occupational therapist recommended this to us. The nuk is nice as it doesn’t matter which way it goes in the mouth and things like apple sauce easily stick to it. We didn’t have to worry about scooping or poking, it can just be dipped in the sauce and then straight to the mouth. Noah got the idea pretty quickly. Our OT showed us how to provide guidance at the wrist to help Noah know what to do. Thankfully no apple sauce was launched today.