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.
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.
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 preform that action. Finally, the Honeybear Straw fits with the Dr. Brown’s bottle handles to help your child build independence with drinking.
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 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.
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.
Hannah Schult is a pediatric speech-language pathologist at the NAPA Centre 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.