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Pacifiers, bottle feeders may affect your child's speech development

Health & Science
 Wambui Mbugua during the interview at Spice FM.

Parents have been cautioned about the overuse of pacifiers and bottle feeders on their children.

According to Wambui Mbugua, a speech therapist, they can influence a child’s speech and language development.

“Pacifiers are good for introducing suckle reflex for children but after that don’t overuse it or use it as a soother because the way the teeth are will be inhibited in terms of how they will be formed in those early stages so you sort of create a malformation leading to an issue in speech,” she says.

She says that prolonged reliance on these items slows down a child’s speech progress and even leads to malformation in the formation of teeth.

Speaking during an interview with Spice FM, Mbugua advised parents to also be mindful of the language they use around their children.

She noted that using excessively complex vocabulary while communicating may be challenging for the young ones to pronounce and could impact speech development.

She goes on to say that stuttering and stammering are symptoms that a child lacks language fluency.

According to Mbugua parents should consult speech therapists once they observe the persistence or signs of speech disorders in their children.

“A speech therapist can conduct a professional evaluation to identify any underlying speech or language challenges the child might be facing,” she explains.

Children struggle with word formation in their early stages of development and early intervention is critical since it can lead to better outcomes and enhanced communication skills in the long run.

 “The first thing a parent should do is of course seek consultation from a speech therapist, let them do an evaluation to identify where is the challenge, what is happening.”

Wambui encourages parents to practice patience when supporting their children in their speech development journey as it is key.

“When a child says a word even if they are not saying it correctly, as you show them how to say it correctly how you say it and how you look at them tells a lot to the child,” she explains

It is essential to provide a supportive and encouraging environment and avoid rushing and expressing frustration when children struggle with pronunciation or communication, instead, one should offer reassurance and positive reinforcements to boost their confidence.

According to Mbugua, chewing plays a significant role in the articulation of words.

She emphasizes that the process of chewing is vital for improving the range of motion and development of the tongue, which directly impacts the quality of speech and articulation.

“The chewing aspect is very important in the quality of speech in articulation because in chewing the range of motion for the tongue is strengthened and developed.”

If a child lacks the knowledge and practice of chewing, they may face difficulties in articulating certain sounds due to the underdevelopment of motor movements involved.

Furthermore, Wambui draws an analogy stating that language, like any other behavior is shaped and modelled through experiences and practices.

 

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