Friday, May 21, 2010

We're Making Progress

Little J has always been a great eater. We haven't had the struggles with eating baby food or table food common to other children with Down syndrome. Why? I don't know. I did stand my ground with the doctors and nurses when they were encouraging me to bottle feed him instead of breastfeeding. It wasn't easy, but I had experience nursing four other babies and I knew I could do it. I also knew that Little J could do it, it would just take longer to coordinate all the muscles needed for nursing successfully. His heart condition didn't help matters either, but we continued on and he learned. He grew slowly, but that's not uncommon in children with Down syndrome and heart conditions. I think nursing worked his facial and tongue muscles more than if he was bottle fed in turn helping him transition to table foods easier. Also breastmilk is always changing which may help the baby accept new tastes. I cannot forget to mention that I like to eat and maybe he just got that gene from me. Other possibilities for not encountering any major feeding issues may be the shape of his mouth, size of his tongue, and curve of his upper palate. It's so easy to take for granted the mechanics of the mouth, but after having a child with Down syndrome nothing is taken for granted. One small change in the shape or size of the mouth can bring a myriad of feeding/eating issues.

Now that he's 21 months it's time to strongly encourage the use of utensils. I've been giving him a spoon ever since he started sitting at the table with us. Often times he just threw it on the floor, but lately he's actually been holding the spoon. I thought giving him sticky foods would make it easier to get food to his mouth on the spoon. Things like pudding, oatmeal, yogurt, etc. work well for this. The idea is that he'll dip the spoon in the bowl and then put the spoon to his mouth. When he tastes the yummy yogurt he'll continue dipping the spoon into the bowl and putting it to his mouth. In theory this should work. In reality this it what happens.

I say we're making progress because at least he's holding the spoon. Anyone think I have a lefty? He's doing more and more with his left hand - important things like eating, thumb sucking, page turning, hammering, scribbling.


  1. Hey Little J,
    This is your grandma, how can I not love that messing face. You are cute no matter how you look. Your smiles, actions, giggles and so peaceful when I hold you in my arms while you are sleeping. You are so beautiful and such a blessing in our life.

    Love: Grandma XO

  2. Too cute! Your assessment of the benefits of breastfeeding is really interesting- good on you for persisting!

  3. Catching up on your posts-and so glad to read this one! Congrats on the breastfeeding! Well done! He's so stinkin' cute!

    I wanted to share that generally kids with Ds have mixed dominant hands for quite a while. Many times we (or therapists) "lead" the child into using one hand over the other. To prevent this, always place the utensil/crayon/etc directly in midline, straight in front of him. Then he can make the decision himself. Add the cup or bowl above the utensil if there is room.

    I also notice that in the picture J. is supporting himself by leaning to his right. My guess is that his feet are not supported in a 90-degree position (ankles-knees-hips), which makes it very difficult for him to use his extremities. He may be past this stage by the time I'm writing this, but it's a good thing to remember any time he's got fine motor tasks.

    Also wanted to add that just yesterday we were reading some Arnosky books! Thought it was funny to read your recommendation.


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