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Eating and drinking

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) who hold a qualification in paediatric dysphagia will see babies, infants and children who have eating, drinking and/or swallowing problems. This may be as a result of being premature, or because of physical or mechanical feeding difficulties.

Conditions in scope

We will see babies and children who:

  • are at risk of aspirating e.g. food or drink going down the wrong way into their lungs. Signs of aspiration when eating/drinking include; coughing, eye watering, change in skin colour, nose flaring.
  • who have a history of repeated chest infections/pneumonia which is caused by swallowing difficulties.
  • are a high risk preterm or a baby with a neurological problem/medical condition associated with feeding difficulties e.g. Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy.
  • are being weaned off a feeding tube.
  • have a tracheostomy tube in place.
  • are already known to SLT service for communication and specific dysphagia concerns are raised.

Exclusion criteria

SLTs do not provide a service to children or young people who:

  • present with feeding difficulties as a result of an autistic spectrum disorder.
  • have just sensory and/or behavioural issues affecting their eating and drinking.
  • are ‘fussy’ eaters.
  • refuse to eat lumpy/chewy foods but have no mechanical difficulties.
  • generally refuse to eat.
  • have issues related to the weaning process.
  • do not demonstrate any difficulties with physical or mechanical eating and drinking skills.
  • have reflux without signs of eating and drinking difficulty. 
  • have issues with dribbling.

These websites can provide helpful information:

Infant and toddler forum - look at the section called ‘resources for parents’ (opens in new tab)

BBC Tiny happy people - for information on weaning (opens in new tab)

Kentcht NHS - some information on dribbling (opens in new tab)

ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder) (opens in new tab) 

NHS UK - reflux advice (opens in new tab)

Autism UK - eating difficulties and ASD (opens in new tab)

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