Charlotte’s time in feeding therapy taught us there were many ways we could take mealtime challenges and provide a modification to the food or situation and make that challenging food or circumstance more manageable. Some of the products we highlight on our newly added “Favorite Products” link were tools that allowed us to make those aforementioned modifications for Charlotte. Other products were items that just made mealtimes more manageable from a parent perspective. What follows is an explanation for how we used each of these featured products during mealtime.
Keekaroo Kids Chair, Keekaroo Height Right Chair,
Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair
We have a Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair that Charlotte uses at mealtime, for homework, and for anything else that she might want to do at our kitchen table. This chair provides Charlotte with the postural stability that is required to eat well during mealtimes. She can sit with the tabletop at her belly and still have her feet on a flat surface, as opposed to having them dangle beneath her, which enables her to focus her energy on eating, rather than expending energy staying seated in her chair. A huge advantage to this chair is that it grows with her. As she grows, we are able to adjust the seat and the platform where she places her feet. We purchased the Tripp Trapp for this very reason, before we even knew that Charlotte had feeding issues. It was just an added bonus that it provided the proper platform to give her postural stability as well.
Through Charlotte’s Day, we have also discovered the Keekaroo Kids Chair and Keekaroo Height Right Chair. Both of these chairs have the same great advantages as a Stokke Tripp Trapp, but cost less and have inserts that can be purchased to provide additional support for infants and smaller children, as well as to older children who have needs that require additional postural support.
Sunsella Buddy Box and Silicone Cups
In order to increase the variety of foods that Charlotte would eat, we worked to serve at least three foods at each meal: a protein, a starch and a fruit and/or vegetable. We also tried to ensure a variety of textures were included in her meals: crunchy, chewy, meltable, pureed. When Charlotte started preschool, we bought the Sunsella Buddy Boxes to make sure that we could continue providing her with a variety of foods and textures at lunch, without having them mixed together in one space or having to use disposable plastic baggies. We also began using silicone muffin cups to separate items in the large section and to keep dips separate from those food items she might be dipping. They made for fun ways to create homemade lunchables and also to provide choices for Charlotte about how she would assemble and eat her food during lunchtime. What we have found, and what I’m sure many other parents would agree with, is that when a meal looks attractive and seems fun and interactive, it encourages children to eat more.
During feeding therapy we learned that mealtimes needed to be predictable and Charlotte needed to have cues that let her know it was time to eat (as opposed to doing something else at the table, like art or playing with playdough). One way to do this was to set a plain colored placemat at her spot when it was time to eat. We didn’t have an EZPZ Mat with Charlotte, but now that we have her little sister, we’ve found these mats make mealtime a little easier. Whenever Charlotte’s baby sister sees her EZPZ mat come out, she starts making the sign for “eat” in sign language. Even though she doesn’t have feeding issues, this predictable signal lets her know it’s time to eat. EZPZ mats have an integrated, three-section plate, and unlike suction cup plates and bowls, this is mat is much more likely to stay put on your table. You can buy smaller versions that will fit on a high chair tray, or if you have a high chair that slides into your kitchen table, like a Keekaroo or Tripp Trapp, you can buy the placemat version. Best of all, it cleans up easily and is dishwasher safe.
Tilty cups are great for babies learning how to drink from a sippy cup. Integrated into the cup is a 45 degree angle that means your baby won’t have to tip the cup quite as far to get liquid to their mouth. You can also adjust the flow of liquid that the cup allows by changing the silicone insert to one of four flow positions, depending upon your child’s swallowing ability. Each one also comes with two handles that babies can easily grasp to help themselves position the cup properly for drinking.
Baby Bjorn Bibs
For those of you who have been through feeding therapy with your kiddos, or have had a toddler at the dinner table, you know mealtimes can be messy. We loved the Baby Bjorn bibs for the deep pocket that would save some of their food from hitting the floor. We could rinse them off easily after mealtimes and at the end of the day, we would just pop it in the dishwasher for a deeper clean.
Chewy Tubes Super Tubes
After Charlotte’s initial evaluation, we discovered that she had not completely developed the ability to chew foods and more specifically, she completely lacked the ability to use a rotary chew with her molars to grind up foods that require more work, like meats and raw vegetables. Chew Tubes helped Charlotte practice what it would feel like to have food placed further back in her mouth on her molar teeth and to have something sturdy to chew on without having to worry about flavors or swallowing. We could take these in the car with us and have her practice using what we called her “puppy teeth” to strengthen her jaw muscles, without having to worry about it being a choking hazard because of the “handle” on thefront. As a teacher, I’d also recommend these Super Tubes to students who have sensory seeking tendencies that normally manifest themselves in chewing on pencils or clothing.
OXO Mini Chopper
Sometimes a food can seem overwhelming to a child. It might be a new food, a food that is cut into larger pieces than the child can manage, or a food that the child doesn’t particularly enjoy by itself. Enter the OXO Mini Chopper. This chopper can be used to chop up bites of food that are too large into smaller bits and it’s fun for your child to help pump up and down to help make their food “just right.” Sometimes we even used it to combine foods to improve the flavor of one or to add a second food that had a texture that would improve the first food once combined. We’d highly recommend keeping an OXO Mini Chopper near your table at mealtimes to help stave off any food meltdowns.
One of our friends from feeding therapy recommended this snack food to us. Bamba is a peanut based snack food that is manufactured in Israel. It’s often given to infants there, like we would give Gerber cereal puffs. This snack food is shaped like a Cheeto Cheese Puff, but because it’s made with peanut butter, provides a good amount of protein. One of Charlotte’s challenges at the beginning of therapy was consuming an adequate volume of food before she’d get full or tire of eating. She was able to eat a full snack bag of Bamba in one sitting. Each serving of Bamba has 4 grams of protein, so it was helpful to us knowing that she wasn’t just eating empty calories. Bamba contains no preservatives or food colorings and is certified Kosher. We can find Bamba at our local grocery store and Trader Joe’s makes their own version, but it’s also available online at WalMart and Amaz