Training the Oral Musculature with Lip Bloks

Posted by Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP on 5th Sep 2015

Question:  Hi!  I have a 2 year old patient (12-14 month old skill level) who has significant tongue protrusion when attempting to drink out of a cup - this is not noted during any other feeding activities.  I think it's because she was exclusively bottle-fed for up to 20 months.

I bought some lip blocks and the bear bottle for her to use.  She does great with the blue lip block, but has not transitioned to turquoise.  Is there a recommended frequency of use for the lip blocks (how much time per day) or an expected duration of time that a child may be expected to spend on one block before transitioning to a shorter one?

Also, the blocks do not fit into most straw cups that mom uses; her straws are too big.  Any suggestions for fitting the blocks into other straws to increase compliance?

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Training the Oral Musculature with Lip Bloks

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Great questions!  I always recommend using the Lip Bloks as much as possible throughout the day for the best results - with every drink if possible.  These naturally exercise the mouth muscles, so the more you can use them, the better.

As far as how long it may take before you see improvements, this can vary greatly depending on the child.  Sometimes I've seen fairly immediate results, but with other children it takes much longer.

The goal is to start with the yellow Lip Blok, which has the longest mouthpiece length (¾").  Once the child masters / becomes comfortable with this length, you can "graduate" to the blue Lip Blok (½" mouthpiece), and then eventually to the shortest turquoise Lip Blok (¼").  This hierarchy naturally and gradually trains the tongue to tighten and retract more, the lips to seal better, and the cheeks to tense more.

Training the Oral Musculature with Lip Bloks

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Alternatively, you could use the Flexible Lip Bloks instead.  These come with a ¾" mouthpiece that you can slowly trim over time with a pair of scissors.   Once the child acclimates to the ¾" length, trim it slightly.  Repeat until he/she masters it at ¼" in length.

As a good rule of thumb, watch what the lips and tongue are doing when the child is using the Lip Blok.  Look from both the front view and profile view.  Then remove the Lip Blok and again watch what the musculature is doing, again from both the front and side view.  If the child can maintain the right posture when the Lip Blok is removed, then they’re okay to move to the next level.  If not, go back to the Lip Blok currently being used.  Taking pictures of the before/after may help in identifying this.

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Training the Oral Musculature with Lip Bloks

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Regarding cups/straws, the Lip Bloks are intended to be used with standard drinking straws (ones measuring .25” in diameter).  So if you look for ones with a flexible tubing straw, those would be your best bet.  In particular, look for ones where a regular sized straw could fit inside the tubing straw.  The Lollacup for instance has a flexible straw and I know you can shimmy a Lip Blok in that one.

Or, our Flexible Lip Bloks can also be stretched to press OVER krazy straws.  Krazy straws are really fun, so the child may be more open to trying this setup instead.  Or lastly, the Flexible Lip Bloks also come in fun mustache and lips versions that she may be more open to.

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I hope this helps some!  If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP

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