What is Newborn Occupational Therapy? – Boys Town Hospital
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What is Newborn Occupational Therapy?

 

Infant occupational therapy, also known as pediatric occupational therapy, is often recommended for infants who have delayed development with fine motor skills, self-care and difficulty with sensory processing.

Delays with Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements typically in the hands, fingers and toes. If a newborn is unable to perform daily tasks such as grasping at objects, holding a bottle while drinking or bringing their hands to their mouths, they may have delayed fine motor skills.

These skills can be delayed for a number or reasons such as genetic factors or pregnancy complications.

Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

If you suspect your infant is having difficulty feeding or swallowing, the challenges may begin before food gets to their mouth, or even after swallowing. Your child may have difficulty with the texture or feel of their food or may have difficulty with a spoon.

The stages of feeding and swallowing can have a sensory component as well as a motor skills component or muscle discoordination.

Signs and Symptoms of Feeding or Swallowing Disorders

If your child is showing any of the following signs or symptoms, you should contact your pediatrician.

  • Refusing food or liquid
  • Stiffening or arching the body during feeding
  • Does not accept different food textures
  • Lack of alertness or irritability during feeding
  • Takes a long time to feed (more than 30 minutes)

Infant Occupational Therapists

Infant Occupational Therapists can help infants with delays by:

  • Helping the infant grasp small objects with muscle strength training.
  • Helping the infant bring their hands together vis physical exercises.
  • Using stimulating toys.

When infants start to develop their fine motor skills, the occupational therapists then apply the skills to self-care skills such as holding spoons and bottle feeding alone.

Newborn Pediatric Neurology