Infants and children can show us that they're having difficulty swallowing in many ways.


Some signs that your child may be having difficulty swallowing include:

  • back arching
  • breathing difficulties when feeding that might be signaled by increased respiratory rate during feeding
  • skin colour change such as turning blue
  • stopping frequently due to uncoordinated suck-swallow-breathe pattern
  • desaturation (decreasing oxygen saturation levels)
  • changes in normal heart rate (brachycardia or tachycardia) in association with feeding
  • coughing and/or choking during or after swallowing
  • crying during mealtimes
  • decreased responsiveness during feeding
  • dehydration
  • difficulty chewing foods that are texturally appropriate for age (may spit out partially chewed food)
  • difficulty initiating swallowing
  • difficulty managing secretions e.g. saliva
  • facial grimacing, finger splaying, or head turning away from food source;
  • frequent congestion, particularly after meals
  • frequent respiratory illnesses
  • gagging
  • loss of food/liquid from the mouth when eating
  • noisy or wet vocal quality noted during and after feeding
  • prolonged feeding times
  • refusing foods of certain textures or types
  • taking only small volumes, over-packing the mouth, and/or pocketing foods
  • vomiting (more than typical “spit up” for infants)
  • weight loss or lack of appropriate weight gain
    (ASHA, 2015)

Kat Bray Speech Pathology provides swallowing (dysphagia) assessments and intervention. For more information please contact Kat Bray Speech Pathology via the ‘Contact’ page.

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