“Feeding Therapy 1: It’s Not Just About Swallowing”
Mary Beth and Julieanne discuss a feeding conference called “Happy Mealtime with Happy Kids” they recently attended which focused on feeding without stressing your child or yourself out. Parents should start out with achievable goals. Start with something you know your child can do to build their confidence to not overwhelm the child.
Once you have figured out where your child is at, to reward them with something that is really fun. For example every time they may kiss or lick the spoon, let them throw a ball, or whatever little thing they enjoy. Make feeding fun! As your child learns to eat more and more, you can slowly start taking away the rewards without them noticing, and eventually they will eat on their own.
Also, there are ways to adapt food, such as scoring an apple or teaching cup drinking. As a therapist, we like to get to the root of the problem; why aren’t they able to bite off a piece of apple, it might be because their jaws are too weak. At the conference, she would slice off ends of a sandwich, and when the child would take a bite they’d have a larger bite in their mouth.
Another thing that was really interesting was teaching straw drinking using apple sauce at the top of the straw to get the kid to suck the apple sauce in their mouth. This will at least give them the feeling of the straw and eventually could drink a whole cup of apple sauce through the straw. At first it may need to be watered down a little.
There is a CD available from the conference with songs, and a great book called “Happy Mealtimes Happy Kids” with a lot of good information for parents.