5 Techniques for Tongue Aerobics
5 Techniques for Tongue Aerobics
Tongue is one of the busiest muscles in a Speech Therapist’s body 🙂
Talking, Tasting, Swallowing, Chewing, Singing …all are possible because of this dynamic muscular oral organ.
I do a lot of ‘tongue aerobics’ with kids who need to exercise their tongues to elicit clearer speech. Here is an insight –
Home based activities to develop tongue protrusion (Sticking the tongue out)
- Push or show how to push your child’s tongue against an object like – a flat spoon, tongue depressor, an ice cream stick, cheerios on the plate etc.
- Ask your child to balance a cheerio/crax/small fried onion ring/ a piece of chocos cereal ( anything small and light) on the tip of her tongue.
- Play an imitation game of poking the tongue out like a snake. Sit in front of the mirror and encourage your child to copy you.
- Encourage your child to lick foods from a plate. Get all messy with stuff like ketchup/chocolate syrup/honey/ sweetened malai/ kheer/ yoghurt etc. Your child should use her tongue and not the lips..
- Encourage licking of stuff mentioned above from a spoon.Use colorful spoons to draw your child’s attention to the activity.
- Encourage your child to lick ice creams – sundaes/softies/choco bar etc
- Place food stuff ( mentioned above) on the lips and ask your child to lick them. Get innovative with your little one’s favourite sticky foods and use them in this game which works best while played in front of a mirror.. Mom does it, and then the baby does it..
Tongue Retraction ( Pulling the tongue in)
- Use difficult to blow whistles/party horns etc
- Encourage longer and sustained blowing — like blowing bubbles
- Drinking with different sized straws. Use thinner liquids first and then move on to thicker shakes and smoothies. The Krushers at KFC is ideal for thick shake sucking. I even like their fat straw 🙂
Tongue Lateralization ( Moving the tongue from side to side)
- Licking sticky foods from the corner of the mouth.
- Put small bits of melt in the mouth foods like – chocolate buttons/ crackers/orange candies etc
- Show your little one how to chew with molars ( back teeth). Use crunchy foods like carrot sticks/ onion/raddish salad/sprouts/soup sticks etc
Tongue Tip elevations ( Lifting the tongue)
- Get your child to lick from a plate wth sticky food placed in front of the face.
- Dab a long line of chocolate sauce on the lip line and encourage your child to lick it all at one go with his tongue tip.
- Tongue Lifts – Think youre a weight lifter and youre lifting cheerios with your tongue..how many can you lift and how fast??
- Open your mouth a little, then slowly lick around your lips in a circle, clockwise and then anticlockwise. Ask your child to imitate
- Open your mouth a lot and repeat the aforesaid.
- Try touching the nose with your tongue tip.
- Try touching the chin with your tongue tip
- Do the nose and chin touch consecutively. Do this 3 times.
- Poke your tongue into your left cheek and then into the right cheek.. Repeat 5-6 times.
- Clean your teeth with your tongue
- Make faces in the mirror. Ask your child to copy you 🙂 Children love this !
Practical Ideas to develop better tongue movements from a mother’s point of view 🙂
- When spoon-feeding your child, place the food centrally on the tongue and apply firm downward pressure. This will reduce tongue protrusion that occurs during swallowing.
- As the protrusion reduces, place the food at the sides of the mouth, between the teeth. This will encourage munching and sidewards tongue movements.
- To stimulate biting, munching and sidewards tongue movements.
- Initially, do this at times when your child is relaxed.
- Initially, these activities should not be done at mealtimes.
- Use items such as teethers (ridged etc.), foods that do not break up (bite & stay firm foods – Dried fruit: bananas / peaches / apricots etc
- Place the item in the mouth, between the teeth, along the line of the jaw and ensure that it is not placed so as to stretch the lips. Do not place too far back in case your child gags.
- Place on the best side initially, than move to the other side.
- If the child is not munching, pull the item out slightly and gently or press down.
- When you feel your child is confident about their biting skills, introduce food items. Initially use bite-and-dissolve foods (Glucose biscuits, Crax, etc.).
- If the child is not biting off the food, break it off for them while they are biting down on it. Do not force your child to take foods that their mouth is not ready to handle.
- Over time, gradually introduce chewier foods in the same way
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