How to Teach Biting and Chewing Skills

For infants, learning how to bite and chew is a crucial stage of feeding development.  At approximately 5-6 months of age, babies begin using their fingers and teethers for oral exploration using a bite and release pattern.  The development of biting and chewing continues from this point on, with the baby refining the movements of the jaw, tongue, and lips.  When infants miss a part of this developmental process, intervention may be necessary to develop the ability to bite and chew.

 

Teach Biting & Chewing Skills

1.  One of the ways I like to begin is to provide the child with the opportunity to mouth ARK’s oral motor chew tools (the Grabber, Y-Chew, Probe, and/or Animal Tips).  These tools were specifically designed to increase oral awareness, to provide stimulation and tactile sensation, and to exercise the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw.  Through oral exploration, the child just might begin to bite on his/her own, and from there you can progress to chewing.

Continue reading How to Teach Biting and Chewing Skills

Tips to Accepting Different Food Textures

1.  Change the individual’s toothpaste.  It can be a change in flavor or a change in brand.  A different brand may have a different texture, one that is perhaps a little more gritty.  Also, changing the toothbrush to one that is a little harder or softer will get a different texture inside the mouth.
.

2.  Massage the gums with a clean finger.  This adds sensory input into the mouth and works on acceptance of textures.
.

decrease-texture-aversions.

3.  Feed the individual with the Z-Vibe or Textured Spoon Tip.  You can also try a Textured SpoonDuoSpoonTextured Grabber, or Y-Chew.  All of these tools have textured surfaces that work on oral sensitivities.
.

4.  Make small alterations in the foods that the individual already accepts.  For example, if he/she likes biscuits, you can put a little mayonnaise (or some other kind of spread) on them.  It shouldn’t be more than 1/4 of a teaspoon, VERY little.  This may be a good starting point to add different flavors and textures.  Adding these to something he/she already eats is easier than introducing a whole new food.  You can also vary the kind of biscuits.  Maybe you could bake some together?
.

5.  Play with the food to help them become more comfortable with foods.  Use this Pinterest board for inspiration.  There is a lot of room to be creative here!

Continue reading Tips to Accepting Different Food Textures

Biting when happy + “R” problems

My daughter recently turned 2 and has developed a biting problem.  This is a new behavior, and so far she only bites when she’s happy and playing with us.  It doesn’t seem to be linked to frustration.

On a side note, when she tries to say “r” it comes out “awe,” which I have previously noticed in older children.  I am just wondering if it is normal for toddlers learning to speak to have trouble with enunciating, or if she should be able to say “r” properly at this age.


I recommend that your daughter squeeze a soft stuffed animal such as a bear to replace the biting.  It appears as if she is getting overwhelmed with joy and happiness having this special time playing with mom and dad.  This could be sensory overload, and she doesn’t know what to do with the overabundance of emotion or how to communicate this feeling of real pleasure due to her young age.  You can re-direct the unwanted behavior by saying “no biting, that hurts” and handing her the bear to squeeze.  You can also hand her a Grabber or Y-Chew for her to bite on instead of you. Other alternatives include speaking with her doctor, reading up on sensory overload in books/magazine articles/info on the web, giving her time out (2 minutes for her age), etc.
.

ARK's Baby Grabber

.
As far as the r-sound goes, she is just too young to produce this sound correctly yet.  This sound is a late developing sound which may not be used correctly until the age of 8 years according to some studies.  However, to help with developing this sound, you can read to her out loud, emphasizing this sound when it occurs in words.  She may not be able to produce it correctly, but she can still hear this sound being pronounced correctly.  This is called auditory bombardment and should be used in articulation therapy.  Hopefully, you won’t have to concern yourself with this.   You are a wonderful mom and a role model for others to follow.  Keep up the good parenting skills!
.

All my best,
Debbie
.

Inappropriate Chewing & Finger/Knuckle Biting

My son chews on his fingers so much!  He has chewed right through the first layer of his skin on his index finger and thumb.  Would ARK’s Grabbers be good as an alternative for him to chew on, on his own?  He is 4 years old, on the autism spectrum, and doesn’t talk much.  Thanks for your help!  He really needs something else to keep him from getting sores.

My 9-year-old chews on everything… erasers, the foam rubber that often covers remotes or exercise equipment, I have even caught him chewing styrofoam!  He has always had an oral fixation since he was a toddler, putting rocks in his mouth and chewing on everything in sight.  Is this something more than typical childhood behavior?  I’ve read on some discussion boards that your Grabbers are often used by other kids with the same issue.  Looking for advice!


Dear parents,

First and foremost it is important to provide them with a safe outlet for chewing.  About 13 years ago, I was working with a child whose parents were so desperate, they began giving him dog toys!  It was specifically for this child (and now many others) that we decided to invent safe sensory chew tools.
.

A safe outlet for chewing

.
All of ARK’s chews (such as the Grabber, Y-Chew, Brick Stick, and Krypto-Bite) are made in the USA out of medical grade, FDA approved materials that contain no lead, phthalates, PVC, BPA or latex.  And all are designed to provide proprioceptive input to the lips, tongue, cheeks, and jaw during chewing and mouthing activities.  Very importantly, they have long extensions to reach all the way to the back molar area where chewing is typically needed the most for input to the jaw.
.
ark-grabber-family-chew-set
They’re also available in various textured versions for additional sensory stimulation, particularly for sensory seekers.  And they come in three different toughness levels for mild to moderate to avid chewing needs.
Y-Chew Oral Sensory Chew ToolsARK's Krypto-Bite

 

Each time your children reach for an inappropriate item to chew on, simply replace it with a Grabber or Y-Chew.  Be consistent and patient.

chewelry

For help choosing which one is the best option, consult our Chew Chart and/or How to Choose the Right Chew guide.
.

Please note, however, that although it’s very important to provide them with a safe outlet to chew on, that may not be the only intervention needed.  For example, they may also benefit from gum massage.  And it may be helpful incorporating more harder-to-chew foods into their diets, such as apples, carrots, celery, etc.  This will hopefully help provide more of that heavy jaw input they’re likely seeking.

.
Most importantly, however, I recommend that they see an occupational therapist who deals with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) as soon as possible, as they will be able to assess and address their sensory needs.  For tips on how to find an OT in your area, click here.

.
All my best,

Debbie
.