Feeding Methods & Speech Sound Development

The effect of different feeding methods and sucking behaviours on speech sound development in children aged 2-5 years.


In the UK every year around 48,000 children aged 2-5 years are referred to NHS Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) services with difficulties using the right sounds in their talking.  This is known as speech sound disorders (SSD).  This is the largest population seen by Speech and Language Therapists and costs the NHS about £24 million per year.  Children with SSD are more at risk of mental health problems and difficulties making relationships with those around them.  They are also more likely to struggle with learning at school and be involved with the criminal justice system at some point in their early lives.  When a baby is born parents make different choices about feeding their baby.  Some breastfeed, some bottle-feed and some use a mixture of both.  Some babies also like to have a dummy, while others suck their hand and some don’t suck anything.  Some studies have found that breastfeeding is linked to better language and learning in later childhood, while others have found that dummy sucking has the opposite effect.  However, the effect that different types of feeding have on speech development has not been looked at in as much detail.

Watch this short video produced by Sam and the clinical team she is working with.