Does your child have choking, coughing, gagging when drinking liquids? Does your child play with the bottle/cup taking a long time to finish a bottle. Does your child limit the total amount they drink per day to less than 15 oz? Does your child sound congested or wheezy after drinking? Does your child fight taking the bottle- turn head away or push the bottle? If yes, then your child may have a feeding dysfunction.
Feeding dysfunction can happen for a lot of reasons. A child can be born prematurely. A child can have a cleft lip or palate. A child can have a neurologic/brain problem that affects their control over the muscles involved in swallowing. A child can have a floppy airway. A child could have lived in an environment where he/she was only exposed to thickened liquids (i.e. China, Guatemala).
If symptoms are severe, children with these issues have swallowing studies done in radiology to make sure liquid isn't going into the lungs. The child sits in a feeding seat and drinks formula with barium and videos are taken (fluoroscopy).
If symptoms aren't severe, we try adjusting the thickness of the liquids to minimize risk of aspiration (getting liquid into the lungs).
Ways to Thicken
Add one tablespoon of baby cereal to every 2 ounces of formula and feed with a cross cut nipple or high flow bottle system. If you're making a big batch of formula for the day, make sure you add the cereal each time you make a bottle as it dissolves over time and is less affective.
Use commercial thickener, Simplythick, Thick-it, Hydra-aid.
Juice can be thickened by adding 4 ounces of applesauce to 2 ounces of juice.
Instant powdered pudding mix one teaspoon to every 2 ounces of milk. Wait a few minutes for thickening.
A typical child's yogurt drink you buy in the store is usually a thick consistency.
Often times we'll have children practice their thin liquid skills with water in a regular flow drinking system i.e. regular flow bottle system or Rubbermaid straw cup.