Swallowing exercises for a child with dysphagia (swallowing difficulty)

These exercises may be recommended by your Speech Therapist to strengthen your child's swallowing.

Only conduct exercises as instructed by your speech therapist.

1. Shaker exercise

  • Have your child lie flat on his/her back

  • Ask your child to raise his/her head slightly off the ground to look at his/her toes

  • Try holding that position for 10 seconds, then get your child to lay his/her head back down.

  • Repeat this for 5 times. Complete twice a day.

2. Effortful swallow

  • While dry swallowing (swallowing saliva), ask your child to swallow as hard as he/she can. Repeat up to 10 times and complete 2-3 times a day.

  • Can be conducted with small sips of fluid

3. Tongue-hold swallow

  • Ask your child to stick out his/her tongue and to hold the tip of the tongue between his/her lips

  • Ask him/her to try swallowing his/her saliva, while holding his/her tongue between his/her lips

4. Temperature stimulation

  • Dip a spoon into cold or warm water (you may add lemon juice to add sour stimulation) to feed your child

  • Then, feed your child a cold or warm EMPTY spoon to help your child stimulate swallowing

  • Repeat 10 times. Perform 2 times a day.

5. Pre-feeding massage

This may help in alerting and preparing your child during feeding.


Using slow, firm strokes on your child, massage:

  1. Round the face, ending at the cheeks near the corners of the mouth

  2. Down the nose bridge, ending at the corners of the nose

  3. Spread the area above upper lip

  4. From the chin to the lower lip

  5. Both cheeks together

Ref: K21