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How does breathing impact your child's eating & drinking?

If you think breathing is impacting feeding, you can practice deep breathing at other times of the day. The practice time will allow you and/or your little one to get a sense of how it can feel to breathe deeply and also know how to do it effectively.

Once deep breathing has been practiced, you can encourage deep breaths before meals and during mealtimes. Ensure your child is not eating and/or chewing when trying to take a deep breath. The deep breath should be done safely (no food/liquids in mouth) so that a negative experience does not occur.

Deep breathing is effective at calming the nervous system. Once the nervous system can feel calmer, you will be more willing to eat. Remember, your body is going to remain "safe" first (fight/flight/freeze) and that means eating/drinking is not the top priority at the time.

If you aren't sure how to effectively target a "deep" breath, you can sit back or lie down on your back, and place your hand/palm/soft toy for kids on the belly. Aim at making the palm/hand/stuffed toy move up/down. You are actively trying to get belly breathing and not chest breathing. It might take a few trials but definitely worth the try.

Also note: deep breathing will also help build postural stability muscles. These muscles are essential for participating in many day-to-day activities.

Any questions, feel free to reach out to me at

Thank you for your time,

Jessica Earle, Registered Occupational Therapist

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