Weaning a special needs child - Part 2

Posted by Kath Megaw on 17/03/2015

Here are some techniques to help you get started:

 Serve a pureed fruit or vegetable from a cup.

  1. Over time, you can gradually add juice to thin out the consistency as swallowing skills improve.
  2. Dried infant cereals can be added to drinks or foods
  3. Yogurt or tofu can be used to thicken liquids
  4. Add bread crumbs to stews and soups
  5. Wheat germ and mash potato add texture while they thicken
  6. Naturally thick foods can be eaten alone or added to other foods.

Examples include;

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed banana
  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Mashed potato
  • Commercial thickeners for liquids are also available.


Failure to thrive
Another big challenge when weaning a special needs baby is the risk that they will not grow adequately as they often take a lot longer to get onto full volume of solids. It can take longer to feed a special needs baby especially if there are oral motor difficulties (problems with sucking and swallowing etc). If a baby’s diet has to be restricted from various nutrients, then it is important to ensure that the diet is compensated in another way to ensure the baby continues to grow. 

You may have to add calories to your child’s diet:
Here are some tips for tanking up. By adding fat to your child’s diet, you can greatly increase calories without increasing the volume of food. This is good news when dealing with tiny tummies and little appetites. 

Make every bite count
Every meal and every snack provides an occasion to sneak in calories. Don’t pass up these golden opportunities. Be sure every meal and every snack provides an occasion to sneak in calories. Don’t pass up these golden opportunities. Be sure to add at least one and possibly several calorie boosters to each food.

Calorie boosters that count:.
For some children, it’s important to pack every mouthful with as many calories as possible. Try adding these calorie boosters to your child’s foods. Small amounts provide big calorie payoffs!

Butter, canola oil, mayonnaise
Add to baby foods, vegetables, sandwiches, casseroles, soup, rice, pasta, and whatever. These calorie boosters go with almost any food. 

Wheat germ
Wheat germ can be added easily to homemade goodies such as pancakes, cookies and breads. It is also good over yogurt, fruit, and cooked cereals.

Powdered milk
Your child won’t even know when you add it to mince, milk shakes, mashed potatoes, cooked cereals, casseroles, and yogurt. 

Sprinkle on cheese
Add grated cheese or cheese sauce or sprinkle parmesan on buttered toast, creamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, scrambled eggs, cooked cereals, casseroles, meat and fish.

Cream cheese
Cream cheese makes the start of a good dip for crackers, vegetables and fruits. It also makes a nice spread for bakes breads and buttered muffins

Cooked egg yolks
Cooked egg yolk can be added to all kinds of foods. The egg yolk must already be cooked before adding to a food.

Whipping cream
Add a touch to drinks or desserts

Peanut butter
Makes a great spread on some vegetables, crackers, toast, muffins, and waffles. Peanut butter also tastes great in milk shakes, cookies, and puddings

Kids usually like avocados. Try adding them to vegetables, on top of crackers, with meats or beans

Children with special needs are more likely to have growth problems. Caring for a child with developmental disabilities is hard enough, and growth problems only increase your stress. Get help. Communicate regularly with your team of medical, feeding, nutrition, and therapy specialists. These and other professionals usually are quite familiar with the growth difficulties of children with special needs and will work with you to find the cause and help your child grow.


Recipes that compliment this discussion:

Pear and Almond yogurt

Baby porridge

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