Fussy Eaters/ Dysphagia


What is fussy eaters/ dysphagia?
Some children are fussy eaters which may lead to reduced caloric intake and affect brain development. Others may have weak muscles for swallowing which can contribute to a swallowing difficulty (dysphagia). Sometimes, this could lead to food and fluids entering their lungs which may cause chest infections.

What are some signs/ symptoms of dysphagia/ fussy eaters?

  • Choking, throat clearing, coughing or wet voice when swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing during mealtimes
  • Food jags (preference of eating the same type of food over a prolonged period of time)
  • Refusal to eat a variety of food
  • Tantrums during mealtimes

How can we help?
We will conduct a thorough swallowing assessment and take a detailed case history to determine the cause and severity of the swallowing difficulty or fussy eating. We may also use diagnostic tools to facilitate accurate assessment and diagnosis to aid in swallowing rehabilitation such as:

  • Videofluroscopy (VFS) which is a swallowing X-ray taken while the patient is eating and drinking.
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) where an endoscope is used to look into the larynx when swallowing.

We will then individualize a therapy plan to help the individual which may include the following:

  • modifying diet and liquid consistencies
  • educating family members on safe feeding techniques
  • exercises to improve strength and movement of swallowing muscles
  • food play and exploration techniques to increase variety of food intake

New research data revealed that there is a significant increase in children diagnosed with speech and language delays or disorders in the recent years. We want to encourage parents to avoid the 'wait and see' approach that is all too common with speech and language disorders. The earlier we reach a child, the more successful, the less expensive, and the shorter the course of treatment. By delaying an assessment and/or treatment to see if a child outgrows a potential disorder, parents may be missing a key window of opportunity. This is why it is important for parents to educate themselves about the signs and seek an assessment from a speech therapist if they have any concern.