Day 2 Sucking

Why is this Lesson important for my child?

Many physical processes are organized in rhythms - think about pulses, heartbeat, day/night rhythms, breathing, digestion (the peristaltic movement of the colon), but also movements like crawling or walking.

Sucking is one of the first independent actions of a child. It is a rhythmic, holistic movement that involves our whole body. In the video below you can see a kitting kneading - pushing with the legs against the soft tissue of the mother`s breast to help with milk flow. This can also be seen in feeding infants that open and close their hands and waggle their feet: in sucking, a child establishes the first movement patterns throughout the whole body. This helps to develop a sense of timing - an integral part of any movement. On a physiological level, sucking stimulates all sphincter muscles, like the ring muscles of the eye or the anus.

Rhythms are recognized by the brain and steady development. It provides us with our first experience with rhythm.

Sucking helps with obvious areas like feeding or reflux but also involves digestion, vision, movement patterns, and the recognition of self as an entity.

If your child was breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle and can suck their thumb without problems for a longer time, you don`t need this lesson. (for today, repeat one of the previous lessons).

If your child had feeding problems, sucks the whole hand instead of a thumb, is on the autistic spectrum, is diagnosed with dystonia (High/ low), suffers from digestive problems / reflux or epilepsy, encouraging sucking could have powerful results. This also applies to children that already are able to talk and eat with a spoon!

Remember

  • Adding vibration will intensify this experience - all you have to do is hold a vibrating toy to the dummy (or your hand that is holding the dummy)
  • Make sure your child is using it`s lips to hold the dummy. Many children, especially with issues with spasticity, will instead want to bite down on anything in their mouths, this is something else entirely.

Stimulate the muscles of the face including

  • Temple
  • The area around the mouth
  • Under the tongue.
  • Play with grimaces. put the palm over the child`s mouth, gently lift it, applying underpressure.
  • Get the child to "catch" your finger with the tongue.

Stimulate the lips and mouth from the inside, using

  • an electric toothbrush
  • your fingers
  • the child`s fingers.

Aides

  • get a child to hold a dummy, then slightly pull it out.
  • teaching a child to blow will help with the musculature of the mouth
  • suck up spaghetti
  • drink viscous liquid from a bottle or from a straw.

Going further

  • As soon as your child is able to suck, start involving the hands (by bringing the fingers to the face and helping him/her to put the thumb into the mouth). This will help the transition from "holding on" with your mouth to reaching with your hand.

A brilliant method that applies many of Feldenkrais` general principles and deals with sucking and feeding issues is Castillo Morales.