Book Review: Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy: Assessment and Management

Wolf, L., & Glass, R., (1992). Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy: Assessment and Management. Austin, Texas: Hammill Institute on Disabilities. 475 pages.

Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy: Assessment and Management reads as a graduate school textbook intended for any professional who may qualify as a feeding specialist (i.e., occupational, physical, or speech therapist; nurses in inpatient or outpatient settings; physicians). The text was written by two pediatric occupational therapists who were certified in neurodevelopmental therapy (NDT) by the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association, Inc. Both authors took advanced NDT courses in feeding and infant treatment and have presented regularly on various aspects of feeding and swallowing in infancy.

The text began with a discussion of the cornerstones of infant feeding--suck, swallow, and breathing--with a review of the anatomy, physiology, and the inter-relationship associated with those functions. The authors’ claim “the close proximity of these structures, the interrelated nature of their functions, and the dual role some structures play in providing oxygen and nourishment to the body often underlie the feeding problems of infants” (Wolf & Glass, 1992). Frequent references to this triad were made through further discussions on diagnostics, assessment, and therapeutic treatments.

Emphasis was placed on a Comprehensive, Multidisciplinary Assessment for Infant Feeding. There were outlines of various assessment models focusing on specific feeding problems (i.e., feeding-related apnea, feeding problem, respiratory compromise, and poor weight gain). All eight chapters conclude with a list of references, and the text contains a comprehensive index at the end. Case examples and lists of strengths and limitations were available for the different assessments, assessment tools, and alternative feeding methods. There were limited breastfeeding references in most chapters, with the exception of a few case examples from breastfeeding dyads.

Chapter Eight has 24 pages devoted to breastfeeding information for the non-hospitalized and hospitalized infant. Articles cited within this chapter were published up to 34 years prior to the publication of this text. Despite the lack of current research, the information provided was relevant today and compliant with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. The chapter opened with a quote from the World Health Organization, “Breastfeeding is an integral part of the reproductive process, the natural and ideal way of feeding the infant, and a unique biological and emotional basis for child development” (Houston, 1981). Throughout the chapter, there was a strong emphasis on the benefits of breastfeeding, especially for children with unique medical concerns. The authors cautioned that each alternative feeding method described (i.e., use of Supplemental Nursing System) should be used under the guidance of an IBCLC.

As I read the text while wearing my speech-language pathologist hat, I appreciated the focus placed on conducting multidisciplinary assessment and treatment of swallowing and feeding disorders, as well as the interrelationship of sucking, swallowing, and breathing. This book would nicely compliment a course on pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders.

As I read the text while wearing my Breastfeeding Counselor hat, I believe use of this text would be limited to professionals with extensive background in human anatomy and physiology, pediatric development, and pediatric conditions as they adversely impact feeding and swallowing. For those with that background, this text would be a helpful overview of all aspects of feeding and swallowing disorders. Breastfeeding Counselors will likely encounter a breastfeeding dyad who has experienced one or more of the assessment and management techniques described in this text.

Respectfully Submitted by,
Rebecca Dean, MS. CCC-SLP
Breastfeeding USA Counselor
Connecticut Chapter


1. Houston, M. J. (1981). Breast-feeding: Success of failure. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 6, 447-54.

2. Wolf, L., & Glass, R., (1992). Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy: Assessment and
Management. Austin, Texas: Hammill Institute on Disabilities. 475 pages