There can be long term risks if a parent does not address a child’s feeding and swallowing challenges early on. Delayed introduction of developmentally appropriate foods may interfere with progress of oral motor skills later on, which can also affect speech and language development. Persistent feeding problems can lead to nutritional deficiencies, which is important for all aspects of growth and development. Often mealtimes with young children who have feeding problems can be very frustrating for the entire family, and many negative experiences occur. The longer these experiences persist, the more resistant the child becomes to change and the more difficult for the therapist to help improve the situation.
Untreated dysphagia (when food and liquid enter the lungs) may also cause severe issues later on. The child may not be able to manage food or liquid well or accept an age appropriate diet. Dehydration and malnutrition may occur if the feeding problem goes untreated. If the dysphagia is severe, another source of nutrition and hydration, such as a feeding tube, may be needed. A child with dysphagia may develop anxiety about eating or drinking later on as well.
Finally, children with swallowing dysfunction may develop chronic lung disease, aspiration pneumonia or other significant medical issues that could potentially be very dangerous to the child. Early recognition and management are important so that the child and family will not have to address more serious problems later.
Feeding problems in infancy and early childhood: Identification and management- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851259/