It’s important to remember that you need to show your child that not everything that you are going to do to the mouth is associated with pain. Additionally, babies can have disorganized or weak sucking patterns that can benefit from exercises. Starting these exercises from the moment you make your appointment can speed up your recovery after the procedure. The following exercises are simple and can be done to improve suck quality. Aim for 4x/day leading up to the day of your procedure.
- Slowly rub the lower gumline from side to side and your baby’s tongue will follow your finger. This will help strengthen the lateral movements of the tongue.
- Let your child suck on your finger and do a tug-of-war, slowly trying to pull your finger out while they try to suck it back in. This strengthens the tongue itself. This can also be done with a pacifier.
- Let your child suck your finger and apply gentle pressure to the palate. Once the baby starts to suck on your finger, just press down with the back of your nail into the tongue. This usually interrupts the sucking motion while the baby pushes back against you. Listen for a seal break and then put your finger back up into the palate to re-stimulate sucking. Repeat as tolerated.
- With one index finger inside the baby’s cheek, use your thumb outside the cheek to massage the cheeks on either side to help lessen the tension.