Down Syndrome: Helping Your Child Eat Independently
Children with Down syndrome can learn to eat by themselves with your help and encouragement. Eating independently is a developmental milestone that involves the use of small muscles (fine motor skills), large muscles (gross motor skills), and hand-eye coordination.
Before teaching your child self-feeding skills, look for signs of readiness, such as the child's reaching for food. Your child may also like to play with food and try to put it in his or her mouth.
Use these tips to help your child learn to eat independently:
Down syndrome often affects the muscles in the mouth, causing the tongue to stick out. This may interfere with feeding, including breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, and eating solid food. Most children overcome these types of problems, although they will likely master eating skills at a later age than other children.
If you have problems feeding your baby or don't think he or she is getting enough nutrition to grow properly, talk with a registered dietitian who works with children who have disabilities.
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