Updated: Sep 21, 2021
WRITTEN BY SALLY HILLS-DAVIS, CHILDRENS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST AND KIRSTY BROCKLEHURST, CHILDRENS PHYSIOTHERAPIST
One of the things that Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists are involved in is feeding. Not so much from the actual feeding itself but on posture and feeding equipment.
Weaning is about introducing your child to solid foods at around 6 months old. At first this is alongside your normal feeding routine of breast milk or formula milk, but in time the food will slowly take more of a priority. A lot of parents worry about this stage but rarely think about the type of equipment they may need.
Parents often look at the colour/pattern of the high chair until the weaning starts. This is because until you have your first baby and start feeding them do you realise how important the right highchair is.
One of the first things to think about is, where are you going to feed your child? Ideally it is a good idea to feed your child facing you, at a similar height. Letting your child get messy is an important developmental stage, so if you have enough space in a kitchen with a floor that can be easily cleaned, this is an ideal place. Your baby will get messy, throw food, push their bowl on the floor and blow out food when you least expect it. Be prepared for mess and you will not be disappointed!!
Highchairs are brilliant for seating but what do you look for before buying? Three things are worth considering about highchairs :
1. Having a highchair that sits your child upright (and not being able to lean backwards) is really important so that they can swallow safely. This is for the same reason that adults sit at an upright position to eat. Being at a ninety degree angle at the hips and knees is the optimal sitting position for feeding.
2. Have a highchair with a foot rest. This is for the same reason that adults have, for the most part, their feet grounded on the floor to eat. If you sit at a bar stool you will also put your feet on a foot bar to give you stability. Can you imagine sitting on a bar stool with your feet dangling with nothing to hold onto whilst eating a bowl of soup! You'd feel very unstable.
3. Lastly, do not be surprised if your child is falling to one side or the other when first using a highchair. We recommend rolling up small towels and tucking them down the sides to stop your child leaning.
Bouncer chairs – Bouncer chairs tend to be quite reclined, so are not ideal for feeding your child in.
Bibs - Starting with a bib early on, not only helps reduce washing but also helps stop the refusal when your child starts becoming a little more vocal as to what they like and do not like to wear.
Spoons - Soft shallow weaning spoons are a good start for your baby.
Bowls and plates - Suctioned bowls/plates can save a lot of thrown food.
Ice cube trays - Fantastic way to store your first batch recipes.