My daughter still has issues with feeding.
For Bella, she can chew but swallowing seems to be difficult.
When she is eating you have to be on guard and watching constantly, she has terrified me many times getting food stuck in her throat.
This is normally caused when she loses concentration or over fills her mouth.
The first issue I had when Bella was ready to move on to solids was trying to find a good position for her to sit in to feed her.
I knew she needed to be in an upright comfortable position, and even though we didn’t know about her Cerebral Palsy at this point I knew we were going to struggle to get her in a good position.
We tried dozens of different high chairs until we found one with enough padding to keep her in a good position, even then we had to use a variety of blankets and cushions to keep her comfortable and upright.
When Bella outgrew her highchair she got a Breezi Chair.
This was great as she was able to sit at the table with the rest of us; it felt like we were more of a ‘normal’ family – it looked good to! Eating out was always a problem for us, until she got her wheelchair she was on my lap.
It’s a shame the GoTo seat didn’t come out a little earlier as it would have been perfect.
Bella breastfed well as a baby and took very well to pureed food at about 5 ½ months, it was when I began to try her on foods such as sandwiches that it became apparent she was struggling.
She would seem to chew ok but then the food just wouldn’t go down.
It was scary and although didn’t seem to affect her desire to try knew foods it left me a nervous wreck.
I continued pureeing food until she was about 12 months and avoided all finger foods because I was so worried, I eventually began mashing and then slowly introducing slightly lumpy things.
It was scary each time but I had to keep smiling so as not to alarm her.
She wasn’t able to feed herself so I could control the amount that was going in.
Everything was trial and error for a long time, certain bread was okay, vegetables were ok, most meats were too tough, pasta was ok if cut very very small.
It’s still quite hard today but I never serve her anything different to what we have.
I cut everything up very small and have to hover over her just incase, she has a habit of trying to put too much in and that’s when she either spits it all out or it all gets stuck in.
She can’t eat chewy sweets or very crusty bread but apart from that there is nothing she misses out on. I like to make things that I don’t have to cut up for her and she can feed herself like Risottos,Cottage Pie, Fish pie, Scrambled egg.
Apart from the swallowing issues we have obviously had issues with the physical act of using a knife and fork.
Bella's arms are only slightly affected by her Cerebral Palsy but feeding herself has been a huge challenge.
She has always been able to pick food up with her hands (I used to let her eat peas with her hands as a good fine motor skill exercise!) but using cutlery has been and still is a challenge.
She can use a fork if something can be stabbed, like sausages or carrots that will stay put until she takes it off.
We have tried many different angled or special needs forks and spoons but she seems best with a plastic chunky one.
She can’t use cutlery in both hands as she struggles to know what to do with both hands doing different things and so at the moment just the spoon or just the fork are easier.
This is still tiring and hard work for her and she will sometimes refuse food saying she is full because she can’t be bothered to feed herself, so I do end up helping a lot.
Feeding is just another obstacle that we have to get around on a daily basis, the aim is for her to be independent but I’m not in a rush for it right now.
I would much prefer she was confident and safe when she is eating.
I am just grateful that she has a good appetite and that her problems haven’t made her scared of food.
Is your child a wheelchair user?