Babies can be perceived as engaging in minimal activity in the first few months of life. Surprisingly, babies are working extremely hard to receive the nutrients they need. Based on recent studies in child therapy, breastfeeding helps to strengthen the child’s jaw, tongue, and facial muscles.
Breastfeeding naturally strengthens the baby’s tongue muscles, which helps the tongue move independently from the lips and the jaw. As the tongue pulls back to receive milk, the tongue forces the mother’s nipple to the roof of the mouth. Through this motion, the cartilage on the roof of the mouth is formed before it hardens. Dentists have found that the development of a hard palate decreases the chance of restricted airways, overcrowded mouth, and issues with alignment of teeth.
The action of forming words and sounds comes primarily from the mouth. Sounds such as /m/, /b/, and /p/ are formed using the lips. Other sounds such as /n/, /k/, and /ng/ require more independent movement especially from the tongue. The stronger the tongue, the easier it is for a child to produce proper pronunciation of sounds at an early age.
Research has shown benefits for both the health of the mom and the baby related to breastfeeding. Current child therapy research suggests that breastfeeding has a crucial role in the development of speech. If your child is having difficulty feeding, is not babbling or is using limited sounds, they may require additional intervention and treatment. Review your concerns with your pediatrician to see if a feeding evaluation is needed. For more information on what feeding therapy consists of and what an assessment entails please contact Step by Step Care Group.
Johnson, Melinda. “Breastfeeding Builds a Better Jaw and Other Benefits for Babies.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 12 June 2015.
Sanders, Beth. “Breast-Feeding & Speech Development: What You Need to Know.” Weblog post. Mom.me. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2015.