Eating Habits of Visually Impaired Children
Eating Habits of Visually Impaired Children
Regular eating habits are as important as regular sleeping ones. Depend upon your doctor’s advice as to when to give up extra feedings, as well as when to begin solid foods. Make any such changes in his eating pattern promptly. The longer you delay change, the more firmly a pattern can become set and thus, the harder it will be for the child to give it up.
If you have let him try sipping from a cup it is time for him to stop taking his bottle, he will be able to make the transition from sucking to swallowing far more easily. If, about the time you begin to help him learn to sit up, you give him small pieces of toast or zwieback on the tray of his high chair, he will try putting them in his mouth and will learn something about solids instead of just liquids.
This will make it easier for him to accept solid foods, first in a thick porridge consistency, and later in coarser form. As he learns to grasp things better, give him larger pieces of toast that he can hold as he puts them to his mouth. From “mouthing” it he will begin to bite on it and then to chew it.
When he first starts eating from a spoon, give him very small amounts of his cereal or other food until he learns how to eat in this way. He may reject it just as many babies do. If this happens, do not force him but continue to use the spoon for a few sips at each meal until it becomes familiar to him.
He is going to want to put his hands into his food. While this is messy, it actually helps him learn the consistency of what he is to eat as well as its taste, since, of course, his hands will go to his mouth at this stage of his development.
Spread a sheet of plastic or paper under his high chair and resign yourself to have a cleaning up job once his meal is finished. He will be at the grabbing stage too and want to take hold of the spoon as you feed him. Let him do this and guide his hand so that he succeeds in getting food to his mouth. Help him learn to dip the spoon into his bowl so he can learn the whole process of eating from a spoon.
Choose such things as thick puddings, mashed potatoes, and other foods that he not only can get into his spoon but will not slip out of it on the way to his mouth. With these he can experience more success.
This is a period of training that will tax your patience, but it is important to keep feeding a pleasant time to which your child looks forward. You will need to make it an interesting and happy experience for him so he will not develop poor eating habits.
When he begins to have coarser foods that must be chewed, you can give him small pieces he can eat with his fingers, as well as some to eat with a spoon. A plate or bowl with fairly high sides will prevent the food from sliding out on to his tray where he cannot find it.
Solid food will be a new experience for him, and it is possible that he will not know what to do with it. Most babies naturally put things in their mouths at this stage and after trying to suck whatever they have, will bite at the object and automatically learn about chewing.
If this does not happen with your child, try putting your hand under his chin to move his jaw gently so he can feel the movement of his jaws and the way the teeth grind his food. Place his hands on your cheeks as you chew and explain to him why you are doing this, even though you may not be sure he understands what you are telling him. Remember, babies begin to understand many things said to them long before they start talking.
Knowing that your child will not see his food the way he would if he had good vision, you are going to want to tell him about it so it will be attractive to him. Tell him what he is going to have. Discuss its aroma, its color, whether it is hot or cold, soft or crisp, and so on. Because you want him to develop good eating habits, you will want to be sure to give him a well balanced variety of foods. He will reject some and like others but must learn to eat some of each kind. Do not force the ones he refuses, but go back to them after giving him another taste of the ones he likes so he at least has a bit of each.
As soon as he begins to feed himself to any extent, you will want to help him learn where to find each kind of food on his plate or in his bowl. Be consistent in where you place the meat and vegetables each time so he can learn to look for what he wants in a certain location.
When he is older and has more independence, he can be told where each item is and remember it, but at this stage, he is too young to learn if he has a different arrangement for each meal.
After he has learned to handle his spoon well, let him try a fork. He will enjoy the jabbing process and often be encouraged to eat more than when using only his spoon. Remember, all babies have trouble feeding themselves and you cannot expect your child to gain this skill in a hurry.
Let him become acquainted with eating utensils, try them, learn how they are used, and the reason for them. As he makes an attempt, you will be spooning most of his meal into his mouth between his tries at doing it.
Once he has begun to master the use of his spoon and fork, let him have a small knife so he will learn about it some time before he is old enough to begin to learn to spread butter on his bread or think of cutting his own food. Familiarity with eating utensils makes their introduction for use less complicated.
Do not be discouraged if your child takes a long time to learn to feed himself. This is one of the complicated things he must learn. He cannot imitate what he cannot see others doing so will be slower with each step. If your child has some sight, seat him where he can see you with his back or side to the light and it shining on you when at the table. He then can observe your way of eating.
While you want him to become independent with eating, you cannot afford to force him to do for himself before he is ready. Do not give up and do all of it foi him or he will become too dependent upon you. Combine doing for him and encouraging him to do for himself until he learns independence.
Remember, your attitude influences the way your child reacts to mealtime. Approach it in a casual manner, as a cooperative experience where the two of you have a pleasant time while he does for himself, but you lend a hand as he needs it.
Once he has learned to use his spoon and fork and feed himself fairly well, he gradually can learn to be less messy and start to acquire acceptable table manners. At this stage, you will tell him more about the way the rest of the family manages the food that they are served.
Step by step he will learn the ways to behave at the table. As soon as he acquires enough skill, encourage him by letting him eat away from home at times. You may start by taking him to lunch at his grandmother’s or aunt’s home.
Later, try a restaurant. Tell him in advance where you are taking him and something about what it will be like so that he will be prepared for the experience.
By the time he is 4 or 5 years old, he will be interested in helping at mealtime. Let him participate by doing things within his ability. He can place the silver and napkins on the table, for example. You will find various things that he can do to make him feel helpful. At this time he can begin to learn how to butter his bread or put a spread on it for a sandwich.
He can spoon apple sauce or custard into his bowl if you place things on a low table and show him how. You can start showing him how to pour liquid into a glass by using a plastic pitcher and cup or glass on a low surface where he will not have to reach up for them. This is a complicated activity for his age that he may not master until later, but is worth a try.
Before attempting it for mealtime, you first may want to try it in the tub or in the sand box, introducing it as a play activity. Let him hold the cup with one finger inside the rim. Help him see how the other hand, holding the pitcher, should be held over the cup so the stream poured will go into the container. As the fluid rises he can feel it when it reaches his finger and know that it is time to stop pouring.
By this stage, you are going to know your own child well enough to plan the kinds of things he needs and will devise many ways to help him learn how to help, not only with mealtime preparations, but with clearing up afterward.
He should have the fun of sharing and look upon mealtime as a happy occasion.Because it is important for the child to follow a set pattern while learning a new procedure, the mother should establish the pattern. Then responsible members of the family can help the child learn if they are careful to follow the pattern consistently.
Eating Habits of Visually Impaired Children Article Source : This article courtesy should goes to Guide for parents of preschool visually handicapped childrens by Dorothy Bryan.