Friday, 8 February 2013

Food and Kids with Down Syndrome

Bath Baby
When Felix woke up this morning, he had a revolting nappy which is not entirely unusual for him. Since he's been toilet training, he tends to hang on until he's got a nappy on before he goes. This morning, however, he was crying and flinching when I picked him up. When I took his nappy off, I noticed his little bottom was bright red and looked so sore. Poor little man; that has never happened before. At first, I wasn't sure what would be causing such a horrible rash, but then I remembered that, over the past couple of days, we have given Felix milk to drink, instead of diluted juice. We stayed away from cow's milk for a long time, and only used soy or lactose free milk, because he used to vomit a tiny bit each time he had cow's milk on his cereal. In the past few months, we have tried him on cow's milk in his porridge again and he has been fine with it, so I thought I'd try him on some milk drinks. After seeing his reaction today, I think we'll be putting him back on soy milk for a while!!

I was SO happy tonight because Felix actually ate all of his dinner. He has been so fussy lately. I know that's pretty typical for a two year old, but it's also frustrating for us, as parents, trying to get him to eat something nutritious. He seems to think he can survive on peanut butter covered rice cakes and bananas! For the past few weeks, Felix has refused to be spoon fed by us. He clamps his mouth shut and shakes his head from side to side, 'No'. I wouldn't mind, if he was happy to spoon feed himself (which he can do quite well). Instead, he has just played with his food; happily finger painting the tray of his high chair with it, and occasionally licking his fingers. I'm pretty sure that, unless he is absorbing food through his skin, he's not getting too much of it into his mouth. Tonight, we had a BBQ and Felix ate most of a sausage with sauce, some onion relish, potatoes, raw tomato and cucumber. I couldn't believe my eyes!

Smoothie through a straw
Feeding children with Down Syndrome can be quite problematic due to some anatomical differences, poor muscle tone (affecting swallowing and chewing) and general developmental delays. A lot of children with Down Syndrome may choke or gag as they eat, sometimes aspirating on their food. Some of my friend's children, who are the same age as Felix (or older), are fed through a peg (a tube which goes through the abdomen and into the stomach) and are completely (or partially) nil by mouth. Others are still only eating pureed food or soft lumps. Some are eating everything that other children their age are eating.

Felix doesn't have too many issues with food but does tend to choke a lot more easily than our other children did. We still don't give him any hard fruits or vegetables, like apples or carrots, unless they are grated, and he doesn't manage to eat meat unless it is minced up, or in tiny pieces and, even then, only one piece at a time. We have always had a hard time finding a cup which is suitable for Felix to drink from and, when he first weaned himself from the breast (at 18 months), he refused any liquid at all. The cups we eventually found were great, when he had less teeth, but once he had more, he chewed the spout shut so he couldn't get any of the drink out of it. Now, he prefers to drink from a straw, but still gags quite regularly because he hasn't worked out how to swallow the liquid and breathe at the same time. I still find drinks, such as smoothies, are much easier for Felix to handle than any thin liquids, like water or juice.

Play time in the bath
I gave Felix a bath after dinner tonight. He was wearing quite a bit of his tomato sauce from dinner, and I'm sure he had half of the sand pit through his hair. His bottom was still looking very sore as well, so I figured a soak in the tub might soothe it a little bit. When I lifted him out of the bath, he looked at himself in the mirror, like he usually does, but tonight his reaction was a little bit different. He actually recognised that it was himself in the mirror, and not just another baby. He blew kisses to his reflection, but then he blew kisses, using my mouth, while he studied the mirror. I could see his little mind ticking over as he did different motions with his hands, sometimes looking at his real hand and sometimes looking at the one in his reflection. I love it when he learns new things. I have a feeling he'll be spending a lot more time in front of the mirror over the next few days. It will be just like old times....

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