Do you need a feeding tool to help your little one eat easier and with more independence? With the right feeding tool, it can be a whole lot easier! As parents, we know how important it is to provide our children with the best tools to develop their oral skills. With that said, today’s featured post is written by pediatric speech-language pathologist, Hannah, who shares 5 essential feeding tools to make mealtime easier and less stressful for everyone involved. Enjoy!
5 Feeding Tools To Promote Feeding Improvements
Help make mealtime easier and promote feeding improvements with these 5 feeding tools that are loved by NAPA therapists! These can benefit your child if they have motor limitations, postural difficulties, sensory issues, oral-motor coordination difficulties, or even dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
This tool is so versatile! The SENSI is a four-setting vibrating tool that can come with a variety of attachments to target exercises and strategies to aid in feeding.
It can be used to:
Reduce Sensory Defensiveness
provide input at the farthest point on your child’s body and see how they respond. Did they seem interested or enjoy it? Try moving closer to your target location (i.e., mouth) by moving up their leg or arms. Did they seem scared or unsure about it? Try providing input without vibration. Try modeling by touching it and tapping it on your hands, arms, or face, and show how fun and safe it is! Go slow and keep it a positive and fun experience!
Improve Sensory Awareness
provide input to your child’s outer and inner cheeks and lips, as well as on the tongue prior to eating to help “wake up” their sensory system. You can also provide their foods on the spoon or chewy tips for added sensory input.
2. EazyHold Cuff
The EazyHold Cuff is a fantastic way to help your child become more independent in their feeding. This tool attaches to your spoons and forks (or really anything your child wants to hold) and ensures they will not throw it or lose it accidentally due to a weak grip. The EazyHold comes in all different sizes, so it can be used with your child as they grow older.
3. Honey Bear Straw
If your child is having difficulties learning to suck from a straw, swallowing thin liquids, or has a weak or limited lip closure, the Honey Bear Straw is a great way to help with these deficits and work towards improvements. The Honeybear Straw is a squeezable plastic bear that pushes the liquid out of the straw when you squeeze it.
Using the Honeybear straw can control the amount of liquid that goes into your child’s mouth, helping to improve coordination with thin liquids, acceptance of liquids, and reduce anterior spillage. This straw can also provide a natural reinforcement for when your child closes their lips around the straw or attempts to suck. Providing a natural reinforcer during strengthening exercises is motivating, functional, and safe. Additionally, providing a natural reinforcer when teaching how to suck provides a solid understanding of what is supposed to happen when you perform that action. Finally, the Honeybear Straw fits with the Dr. Brown’s bottle handles to help your child build independence with drinking.
4. Curved Utensils
Curved utensils, such as the EasieEaters or Kizingo utensils, are great for young kids and individuals with motor limitations to build independence with self-feeding. Children with high tone, weak muscles, or just a limited range of motion, may have a difficult time moving the spoon or fork up, over, and back to meet their mouth to self-feed. The curved utensils help to make self-feeding easier by only needing the child to move up and down.
5. Danmar Hensinger Head Support
Postural support is very important when it comes to feeding. Have you ever tried eating with your head tilted to the side or extending up? It is very difficult to effectively chew and swallow! If your child has postural difficulties, or difficulties keeping their head up in midline, this neck pillow is a very supportive way to bring their head to that desired point for safe and easier feeding.
About The Author
Hannah Schult is a pediatric speech-language pathologist at the NAPA Center in Boston. She has a passion for feeding therapy and helping kids improve their quality of life. When she is not treating, she loves to be outdoors, spend time with her family, and play with her dog, Teddy.
We want to wrap up by extending our gratitude to thank you for stopping by today!
What other feeding tools do you love or recommend? We are curious! Let us know in the comments below. Your input helps other fellow readers. ♥
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