Some tips to help children with Down syndrome eat food
Down syndrome can affect the development of a child in many ways, especially their ability to have food independently. It is important to provide them with right guidance and teach them to have food on their own. Here are some tips to help your child with Down syndrome eat food.
Down syndrome can affect motor skills, especially muscles in the mouth. So the child might have difficulties in having food. But parents and caregivers must be encouraging and patient so that the child can learn to have food independently. Being able to eat food on their own is an important developmental milestone.
The child will have different hunger patterns. Moreover, they might love spitting or wasting their food. In addition, some kids make faces too. But these are all normal.
Shiny Vinson, Principal, Navajeevan Special School in Kochi says that patience is the key to helping children with Down syndrome have food.
The child must develop an interest towards their food. This can be done by talking with love to the child. Do not force anything on them or don’t make them upset. Initially, introduce them to foods that they love. It is important for the child to have a comfortable seating position according to their height and weight. Some kids are hyperactive and they might even run away. When you teach them to drink, introduce them to something thick like a milk shake. Talk to the child about the food that they are having.- Shiny Vinson, Principal, Navajeevan Special School.
Some tips to help a child with Down syndrome eat
Set aside a meal time– When the child has a regular routine, things get easier. They know what to expect and is ready for it. If the family can also join together that would be ideal. Since children with Down syndrome tend to imitate, they can learn table manners and better eating habits from their family members. Setting aside a regular meal time will only do well to your child.
Let them explore new foods– Each child has their own tastes in food and drinks. The child will know it only when they explore new foods items. There might be some foods that you regularly give to your child. But do not stop it at there. Introduce your child to newer foods and let them know what treats their taste buds best. Helping them to explore is yet another way of making them independent when it comes to food habits.
Use step-by-step approach– Children with Down syndrome are slow learners. Hence, they must be taught things slowly. So when having food, it is important to give them a step-by-step approach on how to eat food. Let your child dip their fingers on the plate or glass. The child must learn to physically move their arm.
Be patient– This is an exclusive tip for parents and caregivers. A child with Down syndrome can be fussy eaters. They might throw food around. Hyperactive kids even run away from the table. But parents and caregivers must be patient and help them. With the right guidance and care, a child with Down syndrome can start having their food independently.
“Children with Down syndrome are usually disciplined. They prefer following a routine which is systematic. They are also fond of eating. Most children are not fussy. Since they like to imitate, the family can easily teach them table manners. Nothing like eating along with the child!”, says Parvathy Viswanathan, Founder, Aikya Special School in Chennai.