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Hi! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> I'm new here and hoping to find someone who has done baby led solids with a special needs child. I'm nursing my 3rd dd who has down syndrome and will be 6 months on sept. 11th. 5 years ago with my 2nd dd we waited to introduce solids until she was 8 month and then just let her feed herself. I had planned on doing the same with this baby. However, when I mention this to the early intervention staff they either don't know what I'm talking about or act like I'm crazy. I've also heard there is a window of time that you have to introduce texture to their mouth or they will have more trouble in the future with eating. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: I don't know what to believe. I certainly don't want to do anything that would cause her problems. But, my instincts are telling me to wait.<br><br>
I also thought about making my own baby food and letting her play in it with her hands and whatever ends up in her mouth will be what she eats. Any ideas? Any research you can steer me to?
 

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I don't believe in the magic window. Personally, in your shoes I would start much the same way you would with any other baby. Your baby may end up needing something else (purees etc) but I think she will tell you that with her behavior and reactions.<br><br>
The idea of baby-led solids is not yet mainstream. Many many "professionals" have never heard of it.<br><br>
-Angela
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I've also heard there is a window of time that you have to introduce texture to their mouth or they will have more trouble in the future with eating</td>
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I don't believe this either.<br><br>
my dd doesn't have Down syndrome, but a rare chromosome disorder with a lot in common with Down's.<br><br>
I started letting her have tiny tastes of food around 7 months. She also had a bilateral cleft palate so I really couldn't trust her with any chunks of food until after it was repaired, at 13 months. So she had mostly stuff like mashed bananas, yogurt, avacado and sweet potato until then. I just simply watched her and paid attention to her skills to gradually increase the chunkiness of the food. I figured with her hypotonia and developmental delays it might take her a bit more help and more time. Today she is 25 months and can eat anything any other child her age can eat, and even uses a fork and spoon (sort of <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> )<br><br>
I could never ask my EI for advice when it came to anything remotely natural or child-led, they would give me pamphlets from 1952 that I would nod and smile at and then chuck in the trash as soon as they left!
 

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Good for you for wanting to follow your instincts and questioning the therapist! It is so hard to trust ourselves when we have a sn child because we always wonder "is this a sn issue or just a child rearing issue?"<br><br>
My son will be 3 in a week and has Down syndrome. He is extended nursing, as well. I really wanted to delay solids until he was ready, as I had found with my older son that kids eat best when they are ready to not when a book or doctor says they are ready. My older son did not eat any baby food, I just mashed up what I had at first, if he was interested then let him self feed what he wanted.<br><br>
I planned on following the same idea with my sn child, but let my doubts about his abilities to feed be shaped by his therapist. The therapist insisted that he needed to start with a baby food so that he had a consistant texture to learn with. Looooong story but the end result is that my son is extremly dependent on jarred baby food and absolutely refuses to eat table foods still! I am just gutted that I didn't follow my instincts and let him learn to eat homemade foods from the get go. We are now in the begining of feeding therapy to try to improve his diet and preferences.<br><br>
I would suggest you trust your instincts, make your own foods for your daughter to eat, listen to her cues for when she is ready. I think playing with food is fine and a great experience for her. Kids with low tone do have different oral motor issues that can affect her ability to eat. I think if you educate yourself on what to look out for and try to strengthen her oral muscles thru exercise, then she should be able to adapt to table foods on a timely manner. <a href="http://www.talktools.net" target="_blank">www.talktools.net</a> is a great resource for oral issues.<br><br>
Hope that all goes well!
 

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They already said it, but I wanted to chime in, too. We intended to let my son (17m, he has Down syndrome, too) do the baby led solids thing, but his growth was concerning our pedi, and at his suggestion, we started solids at 8 months in order to get more calories into the squirt. We did a lot of avocado. As far as 'real' baby food went, we used HappyBaby frozen, but started just feeding off of our plates pretty quick.<br>
He's still nursing, too.<br>
I think one of the things that was confusing to me was that my son WAS interested in food, but he wasn't as far along developmentally as his typical peers- he wasn't sitting up on his own, so he wasn't really involved with dinnertime, per se. That, and he's a first baby, so we really were just flying by the seats of our pants, kind of guessing at what seemed like the right thing to do. So far, so good, at least. We don't seem to have scarred him for life, or anything. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
stephanie
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for all the support, I wish I'd come here sooner. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"> I have to keep telling myself that even though she has ds I still need to "trust the baby" and my instincts. I'm going to wait until I see that she is ready. Her weight gain is definitely not an issue, she is just as chubby as my other two were.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">I could never ask my EI for advice when it came to anything remotely natural or child-led, they would give me pamphlets from 1952 that I would nod and smile at and then chuck in the trash as soon as they left!</td>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> When I scheduled the feeding eval the therapist said she would bring me some handouts. It's not until the 24th of Sept, I plan to have my own handouts for her. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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I'm new here, but my daughter, who turned 1 in June also has DS. I followed her lead with solids and had no trouble introducing textures etc... to her. She had open heart surgery in June and her DS clinic doc is a bit concerned about her weight gain - but didn't push solids on us. Now, she really wants the foods - she loves avocado. For us we are just having a hard time find healthy - but high fat, high calorie foods for her to eat to help gain weight.<br><br>
I think it is good that you are following your instincts.
 

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I've really noticed over the years with my son that he is an interesting blend of "typical" child and "atypical" child. In some ways, he has developed much like my other children, but in other ways, he has been very, very different, and I've had to adjust my parenting accordingly. Amongst my friends with kids with various kinds of disabilities, I've seen the same thing. I've also noticed that our kids aren't necessarily typical or atypical in the same area.<br><br>
I sometimes wonder if professionals in the special needs field don't look at the large world of "special needs kids", note those areas that are atypical for some of the kids, and then assume that most or all kids with special needs will also act atypically in those areas.<br><br>
In the case of learning to eat solids, I know that some babies with Down syndrome need a lot of assistance, and some need it intensively, for long periods of time. But I don't know that all of them do! And I think that some OTs and feeding specialists approach the feeding issue from the assumption that all babies with Down need special attention to starting solids, and get pretty concerned and upset when the parents don't see the need for their services.<br><br>
My little guy had pretty good oral motor skills and strength once he got past 5 or 6 months (about the time he could finally nurse really well). His OT, whose opinion I did respect, suggested starting some rice cereal right around 5 months, but I didn't see the need...so while I let the OT show me some oral motor games and exercises I could do with Gabe, I didn't bother with the rice cereal. Around 7-8 months, as I'd done with the other kids, I offered Gabe some little globs of mashed sweet potato, and he handled it just fine. He preferred thick, clumpy stuff from the get-go, which is the opposite from what many experts suggest (you know, rice cereal thinned with breastmilk or formula until it's almost liquid). He ate bits and bites with little enthusiasm (due in part to a seizure med he was on) until he was one year old, when he started to wake up and smell the coffee---solids were yummy! Over the years, while he's had jags of not liking certain textures or flavors, Gabriel's developed into a relatively "good" eater, even though I didn't do much special with him in the beginning.<br><br>
So, my long tale is just to encourage you to watch your baby and listen to your intuition. There are some good resources available, should you need them, but you may find that you read over those resources and realize that you really <i>don't</i> need them, or don't need them right now. One thing I've found that is quite complete (and that does support parents in watching their baby for readiness cues) is an article in the Disability Solutions newsletter. I don't remember which issue it is in, but if you go to <a href="http://www.disabilitysolutions.org" target="_blank">http://www.disabilitysolutions.org</a> and look through the back issues of their newsletter, I think you'll find it.<br><br>
As far as that "window of readiness", the only thing I've been able to find relating to it is an old study done on a small group of children with developmental disabilities. I don't know if there are more recent studies; I've only heard of this one. Personally, while I may be missing something in my thinking, it kind of makes sense to me that if my baby is already acquiring skills at a more relaxed pace, s/he may well be ready for solids later, and at a slower pace, than my typically-developing kids. That's just my thinking, though.<br><br>
Joni and kids, incl. Michalea (10, spinner in the purple wheechair) and Gabriel (Down syn. and autism; spinner of self <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1">)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Joni, thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> I totally agree. My OT was wonderful, but just left for maternity leave. She (and I) really believe that breastfeeding will help dd's oral motor development and she won't have a lot of the speech or feeding issues that they see. But, when I tried explaining to the speech therapist that runny rice cereal really isn't food she just didn't get it. She sounds younger and maybe not as experienced. I am also the only bf mom with a down syndrome baby most of them have ever met. This area is not very supportive of bf.<br><br>
I'm so glad to see that other moms have followed their babies lead and everything has worked out ok. She does have food sensitivities. I can't eat anything with dairy, eggs, or ham. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> I'm worried I'm going to give her a peanut allergy because I've been eating so much of it.
 
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