Thickened Liquids for Beginner Therapists

By Jennie Shafer / 3 years ago

Thickened Liquids

Ever heard of thickened liquids? Did your client recently receive feedback from a Swallow Study? Are you unsure what the levels are and how to explain them? Lucky you! Here’s a handy chart!


Thickened Liquids
Name Consistency Fork Test Examples
Thin Liquids Unthickened/Typical Liquid Easily runs through tines of a fork Juice, Water, Coffee, Broth, Melted Ice Cream
Nectar Thick Similar to Unset Jello Coats the fork and quickly drains Buttermilk, Eggnog, Drinkable Yogurts, Gravy
Honey Thick Similar to Honey Coats the fork and slowly drains Honey, Thick Cream Soup, Thick Chowder
Spoon Thick/Pudding Thick Similar to Pudding Holds shape when scooped with fork Pudding, Custard, Mousse


The “Fork Test” is a pretty simple way to teach parents to check if the liquids are thick enough for their kiddos.

Step 1: Find a (clean) fork.honeyjar

Step 2: Stick it in the liquid.

Step 3: See how it drains.

Step 4: Adjust as necessary.


There are many easily available, commercial thickening products such as Thickit®, QuikThik®, or SimplyThick®. Unfortunately many of these are modified corn starch, contain egg products or keep their ingredients hard to find! Because of this, I don’t recommend using them for young children.


If a bottle needs to be thickened, I generally recommend some type of baby cereal (oat, bran, rice). It may take a few trials to find a cereal the baby will accept. I highly recommend you go by what your PCP tells you as far as amount of cereal to fluid ounce as most of the information you can find on the internet about this is conflicting.


Gerber Baby Food Level 2’s are mostly safe for nectar thick kids. Keep an eye on them though as some get pretty runny.


Be aware: adding cereal to the bottle can cause decreased overall intake and constipation.

About the author

Jennie Shafer

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