How Improve Oral Motor Skills ?

nuari 5, 2012by

Feeding skills, oral motor skills, and articulation development are all related to each other in that they develop side by side and one builds upon the other. A child with poor oral motor skills will have feeding deficits in certain areas and delays in articulation. Therefore the information presented below covers development of feeding and oral motor skills and possible interventions that you as a parent can do to improve function.

Oral motor exercises are occasionally necessary to improve weak articulators or muscles in the mouth and face for speech production. These muscles sometimes need strengthening, or need to have better coordination or range of motion.

Improving these muscles can help a child make speech sounds better as well as help with the eating/feeding/swallowing problems some children have difficulty with. The activities below are for children ages 3 and up, to help improve their oral motor skills. 

How Improve Oral Motor Skills

  • Lick ice cream as it drips down the side of the cone on a hot day. Can’t use lips- tongue only.
  • Pretend to make faces at one another while you look in the mirror. Make the silliest ones you want.
  • Blowing bubbles. This works the muscles that make our lips round like for the /w/ sound. It also improves breath control.
  • Roll little round lollipops around the mouth, back and forth from in one cheek to inside the other using only the tongue. The sucker should be visible pushing against the cheek if they do it successfully. Also works on lateralization and coordination of tongue movements.
  • Licking peanut butter or marshmallow crème with the tongue only (no fingers) after a glob of it has been placed on the roof of the mouth or behind the top front teeth. This works on tongue elevation/lifting, and if you put it over in one cheek it works to help lateralize the tongue (move it sideways).
  • Put cheerios or apple jacks on the table and have the child “spear” one with his tongue. No hands or lips can be used. The child has to learn to aim and protrude the tongue past the lips.
  • Rub syrup, frosting, or peanut butter on outside of lips (red/pink part) so child must lick lips with tongue to clean them off. No hands for this either.


Pediatric Articles Dr Widodo Judarwanto (pediatrician)



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