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BeauTIFFul23
BeauTIFFul23 asks:
Q:

My 4 year old sucks on his food, what does this mean?

My son recently turned 4, but since in his age of late 2- early 3 until now, he has been sucking his food. He weight gain is okay, but what bothers me is his brother that's 13 mos younger is always weights 4-5.lbs more than him every 3-6 mos for health screenings. His teeth are almost starting to decay because of this eating habit. I really need to know to do about this before it causes any serious problems.
In Topics: My child's growth and development, Physical Health, Nutrition
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
May 8, 2012
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What the Expert Says:

Start with a discussion with your pediatrician and your dentist.  His jaw will only grow as he uses it. If he is not chewing, he is not using it as most 4 year olds do. Try some re-feeding exercises such as giving him one item at a time or asking your pediatrician about a swallow center at you child development center.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (2)

cristinlotz
cristinlotz writes:
Keep me posted on your sons status. My son is the same way. I'd like to hear your progress. My son used to chew his food and between 1 1/2 and 2 he started chewing then sucking his food. Meals would take an hour. He fell drastically off the growth chart at 2 and has been continuing at a very slow pace gaining. He's in 10th percentile now. He has been referred to ent and had a sleep study and barium swallow due to enlarged tonsils. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea but ent said removing tonsils wouldn't help with his food sucking issues. He is seeing a speech person at childrens institute to help with feeding issues but things haven't improved much. No one has seen anything like it before and the biggest problem is he chews when he is there but they can tell he's just doing it because he has to. He doesn't seem like he enjoys eating. When he's at home and sucking on his food it seems soothing to him like he's relaxing. He is highly intelligent for his age and knows he's supposed to chew. He just doesn't do it most of the time. he is 4 1/2 right now
> 60 days ago

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tkd1212
tkd1212 writes:
My 16 month old girl just started this habit of sucking vs. chewing food as well. I was horrified to find food from lunch tucked away in her mouth after a 2 hour nap. It is frustrating, when I tell her to chew she goes through motions but then reverts to sucking. I hope to break this habit before it ruins her teeth and she becomes more dependent on it.
> 60 days ago

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