KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) Paediatric Neurology and Speech Language Therapy Service share exercises that can help improve swallowing for a child with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).
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:
Round the face, ending at the cheeks near the corners of the mouth
Down the nose bridge, ending at the corners of the nose
Spread the area above upper lip
From the chin to the lower lip
Both cheeks together