A diet filled with nutritional food is important for growing children, and the ability to chew, swallow and consume the food is essential. Unfortunately, dysphagia affects some children to a certain degree which makes it more difficult for them to get sustenance than others. Dysphagia can result in malnutrition, severe weight loss, and chest infections, which is why it is important to identify the signs and treat them as soon as possible. Here is a quick guide to dysphagia in children and how you can help children cope.
Dysphagia and Children
Dysphagia is a term that describes someone who experiences difficulty with feeding and swallowing. From newborns suckling milk to six-month-olds learning to eat solids, children tend to learn to eat as they grow. However, children with feeding or swallowing disorders may find it incredibly difficult to grasp the ability to swallow. The level of severity can vary from child to child. Some children may find it impossible to swallow anything, while others may have difficulty with certain food groups.
Signs of Dysphagia
There are many different signs of dysphagia. Children who do not put on weight, lose weight, choke or cough when drinking or eating, show signs of distress when eating or simply refuse to eat may have dysphagia. Some children with swallowing problems may take an exceptionally long time to chew and consume their food or only eat some types of food. Others may display a bite reflex which makes it difficult for them to get food into their mouth, and some may find it difficult to keep food inside the mouth. It is essential that you speak to a healthcare professional should you notice signs of dysphagia.
Avoid Difficult to Swallow Food Types
Although dysphagia varies depending on the child, there are certain food types that are more difficult to swallow and can cause aspiration or choking. For example, foods with a crunchy, doughy, or mixed texture are risky for kids with swallowing problems. In addition, skin on fruits and vegetables and fibrous vegetables can be difficult for some children to swallow.
Make Food More Manageable
Creating purées from nutritional food and modifying the texture of fruit juices, broths and soups can help make them easier to eat. Simply Thick beverage thickener can be added to hot or cold liquids to make them more palatable to kids aged three and older. This gel thickener is flavorless, and it can help you create a smooth, easy-to-consume drink.
If you are worried, your child is lacking in nutrients, speak to a healthcare professional to get advice. They can either refer you to a specialist, or they can prescribe supplements to help your child stay healthy. These supplements can ensure your child has all of the nutrition they need to grow, and they can also help boost their calorie intake.
In addition to providing your child with the right consistency of food, you can also help your child by helping them get into the optimum position before a feed. Your child should be sitting upright. They should never be reclined, and their head should not be tilted back. Some people may find special seating helpful during mealtimes.