3 Simple Tips to Develop Your Child’s Oral Motor Skills

Practicing oral motor skills might sound like “work,” but you can easily do it during everyday activities you already do with your child. Here are 3 simple tips to practice oral motor skills during meal time and play time:

Drinking through a straw:

Have your child use a straw when drinking to strengthen oral motor muscles. Make the task a bit more difficult (and tasty!) by serving thicker liquids — like a fruit/vegetable smoothie or a milkshake — so that more suction is needed for your child to get the liquid up the straw. What a quick and delicious way to develop oral motor skills at snack- or mealtime!

straw oral motor

Blowing out candles: 

If you notice your child is struggling to blow out candles or blow bubbles, try this: Cut a 2-inch piece from a plastic straw. Have your child wrap his or her lips around the straw (as if taking a drink) and use the straw to create an air channel to blow out candles or to blow bubbles from a bubble wand. Have your child blow some big and some small bubbles to practice breath control. The straw adds novelty to the task of blowing out candles and makes a  new “game” of blowing bubbles. Your child can practice this simple straw trick anytime, until he or she can naturally remember to use pursed lips for blowing.

Play a “Funny Face” game!

Play a game of “Funny Faces” with your child to strengthen the muscles of the mouth, lips, and tongue. See who can make the most dramatic funny faces over and over. (It’s guaranteed to get a laugh!)

kid picture

Let us know what simple ideas YOU have for adding oral motor practice to your child’s day. Leave us a comment below, or chat with us on our Melissa & Doug Facebook page.

For more tools and tips to help build oral motor skills, visit our Oral Motor Skills section on our “Toys for Special Needs” page!

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Product tip:  Want to make Oral Motor practice even more exciting? Our Butterfly Bubble Blower and our Chameleon Bubble Blower mimic the straw exercises by providing a colorful plastic blower for children to put their lips around as they create their own bubble fun!


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