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  • Writer's pictureCAFF Team


Updated: Jun 23

Episode 72 of the Airway First podcast is now out! You can catch this and all other episodes on Apple, SoundCloud, Podbean, RSS, Spotify, iHeart Radio, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. And don't forget to check us out on YouTube!

Airway First podcast, occupational therapy, Nat Udwin

My guest today is Occupational Therapist, Natalie "Nat" Udwin. Nat is an infant development, airway and reflexive feeding specialist. Most people know them on Instagram as "Nat The Baby OT".

Nat has a B.A. in Studio Art from Whitman College and a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Milligan College and has been an OT for 12 years.  They have specialized in infant development for 7 years now.

Sometime around 2015, Nat's eyes were opened to the world of reflex integration, which completely transformed their practice.  Finally, Nat was seeing skills were sticking and carrying over to other aspects of daily life that just weren't happening before for their patients.  It was the "foundational" approach to therapy that Nat had been trying to figure out for years. 

After a couple of years of learning to integrate or inhibit retained reflexes, Nat began to ask WHY.  Why were all of these kids retaining these reflexes from infancy into childhood?  What was happening developmentally to change their trajectory? 

So, Nat dove headfirst into infant development courses.  They quickly learned about the importance of human connection and emotional regulation in early infancy, as well as the developmental importance of strong breathing and oral motor skills to support a lifetime of healthy growth.  It was now all starting to make sense.  

The next step was to start working with infants, and to put all of this new knowledge to the test.  Nat, alongside some incredible mentors and colleagues, has spent the past 7 years mastering their understanding of infant development to not only become an infant development specialist, but to create what is now the foundation of Áha OT - a holistic airway focused approach to therapy - for children of all ages.  

You can find out more about Nat at or on Instagram at nat_thebabyot.

Show Notes:


Sensory integration therapy is a play-based, clinically-based approach that helps children improve their ability to process and integrate sensory inputs. These sessions are typically led by an Occupational Therapist (OT) with the goal of helping children develop the skills they need to improve their processing and integration of sensory inputs to gain appropriate adaptive responses to respond and participate in everyday activities.

Sensory integration is comprised of eight total systems, but there are three sensory systems that are the most negatively affected when someone has challenges with sensory processing:

  • The tactile system: This system is responsible for recognizing touch sensations, like pressure or temperature, through the skin.

  • The proprioceptive system: This system is responsible for informing us of where we are in space through our muscles and joints.

  • The vestibular system: This system is composed of a complex organ in the ear, responsible for determining our movement and balance.

There are many benefits of sensory integration, some of which include:

  • Develop an understanding of your child's eating, physical, and emotional behaviors

  • Improve sensory processing and integration --- including functional tasks and abilities like feeding

  • Improve your child's concentration

  • Improve your child's balance and motor skills

  • Improve your child's social abilities


Primitive reflexes are innate survival mechanisms that emerge at birth, many of which develop during fetal development. These automatic movement patterns are crucial for newborn survival and early developmental milestones. They form the basis for subsequent learning and growth. However, these primitive reflexes are not permanent; they typically integrate—disappear—by around 12 months of age, although some may persist until two or three years old.

When a primitive reflex integrates, it paves the way for the emergence of more sophisticated movement patterns and higher-level learning.

From a scientific perspective, the development of new movement patterns establishes fresh neural pathways in the brain, facilitating the acquisition of advanced skills. For instance, mastering head and neck control is a prerequisite for independent sitting. Without achieving this control, infants cannot sit upright without support.

If a primitive reflex is retained - that is, still present - after 12 months of age, challenges may arise. Each primitive reflex comes with its own set of movements and leads to new and different developmental milestones. If a specific reflex is retained, it may affect a specific area of development ---- including feeding and behaviors.


Education is the first step for any parent who might be concerned about their child's mental and physical health.

The Children's Airway First Foundation Resource library has information that can aid in identifying symptoms and providing guidance on the first steps towards helping your child with an airway disorder.

CAFF Resource Library

As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.

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