Body Positioning + Products to Help Decrease Choking Risk
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Did you know there are body positions that can reduce the risk of your baby gagging and choking at mealtime? In this blog I’m sharing strategies and products to help keep your baby’s airway protected and body comfortably positioned at midline while eating.
Chin Tuck Maneuver: The therapeutic chin tuck maneuver is used by speech language pathologists (SLP) and occupational therapists (OT) that specialize in feeding and swallowing. This position may be recommended by these therapists when pediatric clients struggle with dysphagia (swallowing disorder). The chin tuck position (tucking the chin to the chest when swallowing) opens the entrance to the stomach and shrinks the entrance toward the lungs. And having your baby in a slight chin tuck position when eating can help them swallow food and liquids a bit more easily. Here are a few ezpz products that are designed to help support a chin tuck swallow.
- Tiny Cup: The ezpz Tiny Cup is cone shaped on the inside, which makes it possible for a baby to drink without tilting their head back (which opens their airway). This unique angle makes it easy for a baby to keep their chin tucked (and their lungs protected) while taking a sip from a cup held by an adult or when drinking from the cup independently.
- Mini Cup + Straw Training System: For improved safety, the Mini Straw was designed to be the shortest straw on the market. This is because a baby must hold their breath to suck from a straw, and a shorter straw is easier (and safer) for babies to drink from than a long straw. In addition, the Mini Straw is curved toward the child (with sensory bumps at the tip) which naturally places them in a slight chin tuck position. This position helps a child’s ‘suck-swallow-breathe synchrony’ and encourages nose breathing, which makes straw drinking more graceful and smooth.
- Tiny Placemat: To protect their airway, a child needs to have proper head and trunk stability. A baby’s head position aligns their oral structure, which produces a safe and effective swallow. The ezpz Tiny Placemat is a rectangular shaped mat with a raised rim to help keep food in front of baby. This rim allows baby to maintain a slight chin tucked position while finger feeding. This safety feature is different from other silicone highchair placemats that have a c-shaped design (which allows food to go beside or even behind the baby). This causes baby to have to lean back – and open their airway – to reach the food, thus placing the baby in an unsafe swallowing position.
- Mini Mat: The ezpz Mini Mat is an all-in-one placemat + plate that suctions to the table. The mat’s stable base helps babies learn to self-feed while keeping them at midline. We want to keep a baby’s head at midline (the center of the body) to help improve the ease of swallowing. This is why a mat that suctions to the surface is essential for keeping baby in a safe midline position (as compared to other plates / bowls that move when baby self feeds). Head movements may increase choking risk and cause food refusals.
I hope you find these strategies and product recommendations helpful, as they may increase the safety of your baby’s swallow and reduce the risk of gagging, choking and respiratory infections. Now that you know more about the benefits of a slight chin tuck, how will you incorporate this position with your baby? #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).