“A towel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Who am I to disagree with Douglas Adams? Towels, in feeding, as in the wider Galaxy, are a tremendously useful thing.
Is your baby finding this weaning thing tricky? Maybe they’re developmentally delayed? Physically small? Have they got low muscle tone (hypotonia)?
We talked about the importance of sitting as a developmental skill for eating in a previous post. But getting the seating right can help your child a lot too.
Look at your lovingly selected expensive baby seat. Now look at your baby in it, and see if any of the following might apply:
- Are they in midline? If your baby is slumping to one side or the other, they are not in a good position to concentrate on their mouth. Try padding out one or both sides of the seat with towels or cushions to give them more support.
- Are they sat up? This is not a trick question. Your baby might look upright, but they are often really quite far back in their chair. They might be having to lean forward to get at their food, using valuable energy to do so, which they could be using developing new oral skills. Try adjusting the seat position if possible, bringing the tray backwards if possible so it’s not so far away, or padding behind them with towels.
- Is the tray somewhere up in their armpits? Does using their arms require them to have their shoulders up around their ears? This is not making the business of developing self-feeding skills any easier. Try putting towels/a cushion under your baby, or bringing the tray down if you can.
- Are they on the move over the meal? If you child is slipping down in their chair over the meal, they are going to be finding it hard work. If padding out with towels doesn’t work, then try putting a non-slip mat or piece of Dycem or similar (https://dycem-ns.com/) under them.
- Where are their legs? If your child’s legs are sticking out unsupported, they might be making more effort than they need to stay stable. As a general rule, having your feet on something will help.
For children with higher or mixed tone, or problem reflux in conjunction with physical delays, not sitting at all for meals might be a solution. A standing frame will sometimes be more helpful.
Seating will always be part of any feeding assessment. Ask your Physiotherapist, Speech Therapist and Occupational Therapist about your child’s seating.
Posts from Find the Key Speech Therapy are intended for information. They are not intended to, and cannot, take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows your child. Find the Key Speech Therapy does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.