Some tips to help introduce solid foods to your infant include assisting your child in using their hands to grab the food, letting your child feel and listen to your jaw as you chew on a piece of their food, creating a routine (like tapping a spoon on a dish to signal it’s meal time), and figuring out through trial and error what foods your little one will be most comfortable with in the initial period. It’s best to use a suction cup dish to serve food to your infant so that it doesn’t get tossed around. All babies are different, but some patience, encouragement, and assisting them in eating from time to time can help your baby adjust well when introducing solids.
Many families of blind children are not only on a child with a visual impairment journey but also on a feeding journey.
Some of these children have difficulties gaining enough weight early in their lives or must use feeding tubes, while others have difficulty chewing and require years of feeding therapy.
While other children show they are ready for solid foods by grabbing the spoon, a blind child may need you to encourage their independence.
It may take some time, and you may have a period where your child will need your presence and encouragement to be able to hold a spoon, scoop with it, put it in their mouth, close their lips around it, and then replace the spoon.
Tips on introducing solid food to blind children
As a parent of a blind child, you most likely deal with feeding challenges.
The baby’s nutrition continues to come from breast or formula milk, and it takes time for them to accept new flavors and learn how to swallow lumpier foods.
Here are some suggestions for engaging a blind baby in learning about eating.
- Concentrate on the fingers first. Remember, they came before forks and spoons.
- Let your child feel and listen to your jaw chewing and eating crunchy foods. It helps them understand the action required for eating, and they’ll love it.
- Create a routine. Tapping the spoon on the dish or a song for meal times will signal eating time. Also, be consistent with where you place their bowls, cups, plates, and utensils on the highchair tray or at the table.
- Using a suction cup dish won’t move around when your child is eating, and it will limit their frustrations. The high sides will also make scooping easier without food falling off the edge.
- If your little one doesn’t like lumpy foods, build up gradually from pureed foods to solids. Thicker foods stick better to the spoon and limit your baby’s frustration. Yogurt, mashed potatoes, and applesauce are common choices.
- Let your child put their fingers in the bowl to explore their food. It is the only way of finding out what they have.
- Use the hand-under-hand or hand-over-hand technique. When introducing your blind child to using a spoon, put your hand over theirs holding the spoon. As they grasp the idea more, you can gradually move your hand up their arm so that they’re controlling it more by themselves.
- Tell your child what you’re doing. “I’ll help you scoop up your rice” Children like to have a commentary on what’s going on and what the food is. They can’t see your action either, so the narration helps them know what to expect.
- All children make a mess while eating. They throw their spoons and can even put their bowl on their heads, and yours may be no different despite being blind. A long-sleeved bib and a big splash mat plus wipes make cleaning up easier but are sure to clean up at the end rather than through the meal.
- Alternate between helping them and feeding themselves but do not let mealtimes go on for too long. It will make your child feel frustrated by forcing their pace of independence. Try and make it a happy occasion for both of you.
- They may be able to get the spoon to their mouth once you’ve helped them to load it, but they will need some help to put it back in the dish. A damp cloth or a non-stick mat under the bowl to prevent it from sliding around can be worth it.
- Always show your little one that you’re pleased when they do things for themselves. You can show your pleasure by touching them or through your voice. All children need a lot of patience during this stage.
- All babies are different. Some will eat all their food while others are just fussy eaters or simply not interested. They can pick up on the feeling that you’re worried, so try to relax. If they don’t eat much, they can have a little more during the next meal.
What causes a baby to be born blind?
Blindness in babies may be due to genetic mutations, birth abnormalities, premature birth, infections, injuries, and nutritional deficiencies.
Refractive error, cataracts, Vitamin A deficiency, and severe retinopathy of prematurity may also cause blindness.
What is considered partially blind?
Refers to a list of vision that is irreversible with glasses or contact lenses. It means you or your baby has limited eyesight.
Children with vision impairment can eat independently. And when they’re two years old, they’ll be eating some of the same food as the rest of the family. However, you need to adapt and teach them differently.
As they grow, involve them in mealtime by letting them help in the preparation, setting the table, or clearing the dishes. It teaches them new skills and helps build their self-esteem.
The inclusivity will help your blind baby’s eating skills, socializing, and learning new words. A consistent routine, including meal time, will help build their confidence and independence. It will help the child anticipate what’s going to happen.