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Why is voice care so important?

Children’s vocal cords are small and very delicate and can be at risk of wear and tear.

When children talk, their vocal cords vibrate (wobble together) about 300 times per second.

If this vibration is strained it may cause the vocal cords to become sore or irritated.

If this strain continues over a period of time, it becomes difficult for the vocal cords to recover and this may then have an impact on the quality of your child’s voice. When the voice quality becomes hoarse, weak, breathy or strained for a prolonged period, this is called dysphonia.

How can I keep my child’s voice healthy?

  • Shouting, screaming, singing, calling, reading aloud (in a noisy atmosphere) are hard work for the voice, and should be avoided.
  • Your child should not whisper as this can tire the voice and dry out the vocal cords.
  • Your child should not use strange throat noises or imitate characters with ‘funny’ voices, e.g. Bart Simpson
  • Throat clearing and coughing also weaken and irritate the voice. It is important to sip water frequently. Your child should have access to water, without needing to ask for it.
  • Encourage your child to rest their voice if it hurts or encourage quiet play activities as this allows the vocal cords to rest and recover.
  • Encourage your child to have some “quiet time” at the end of the day as this will give their vocal cords a chance to rest / recover from a busy day of voice use.

Food / Drink

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water as this will keep the mouth and throat moist.
  • Don’t give your child drinks containing caffeine as they dry out the mouth and voice, (e.g. coke, tea).
  • Don’t give your child very hot drinks and avoid spicy food as these can dry out the mouth and voice.

Other advice

  • Reduce the amount of background noise when talking to the child so they do not need to “talk over” the noise. E.g. turn the television off.
  • Smoky environments irritate the throat and should be avoided.
  • Steam inhalations (2x per day) – using hand hot water – will help to soothe the throat. It is also particularly helpful in controlling mucus and coughing during throat and chest infections.
  • A steamy bath or shower has the same effect.

When to Refer

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s voice, please visit your child’s GP first. It is helpful if your child has received a screen by the the Ear, Nose and Throat department before being referred to Speech and Language therapy.