Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ability Hacks: Self-feeding tips for kids with special needs

If you have a child who needs adaptive utensils, you're probably well aware of how expensive that stuff can be (see: You want me to pay $30 for a spoon?). So I'm happy to share some alternatives that encourage self feeding and don't cost a bundle. Note, the utensils will not work for children with severe bite reflexes and you should definitely check in with your speech therapist before trying any of these.

Find easy-to-grasp, inexpensive flatware at IKEA

The handles on the IKEA Kalas children's tableware have a nice, wide grip. They're sturdy, too, and great for trips; we keep a spare pack in the car. At $1.99 for a colorful 18-piece set with forks, knives and spoons, you really can't go too wrong. And you can order them online if there's no convenient IKEA near you.

Adapt utensils with foam tubing

Cut foam tubing ($15 for six tubes with three different opening sizes) to fit the handle of a maroon spoon (available with small and large bowls, check with your child's speech therapist) and voila—a spoon with a user-friendly grip. It's dishwasher safe. Works on pencils, too.

Try an ordinary sippy cup 

When your child is working on drinking by himself, the Playtex Training Time Soft Spout Cup is super-light and has handles on both sides for easy gripping. Cost: $5.80 for two.

Keep plates in place with Dycem

A square of this anti-slip material will keep plates from sliding away as your child scoops up food. You can buy a Dycem pad for $16 or a roll of the stuff for $20 (the least expensive is in green).

Got a feeding hack? Share it here!


  1. Ellen, what about water bottles for older kids like 4-5. Do you know of any with handles on both sides?

    1. Sorry, I don't, hopefully someone else will chime in.

  2. These are awesome tips! The First Years brand also makes plates and bowls with a suction cup on the bottom that we've been using for our daughter and they've been working great!


  3. Let them choose what they eat within reason. No one wants to work hard for something they don't like.

  4. I taught my daughter to drink out of a straw by using Duct Tape to seal the straw opening of a Capri Sun 100% juice box. That way, I could squeeze the juice through the straw and into her mouth without it leaking. She liked the juice, and voila -- learned to sip from the straw. She now uses cups with screw-on lids and rigid straws (which Target stopped carrying, arrgh) and, if I hold the cup for her so it doesn't spill, she can drink out of any straw, which has been very useful when eating away from home if we forget to brink her specific cups.

  5. The thick drawer liner is also great for keeping plates, books and such from slipping. My son can only drink a very small amount at a time. We found the cheap, disposable sippy cups worked well because he got a small sip at a time, but it was still free flowing.

  6. Calibowl.com...bowl has a great lip to help stop spills. Donovan needs to pull his spoon against the dide of the bowl to lift thr food which was a mess until i found this bowl

  7. We bought eazyholds. With these you can add a handle to any utensil, sippy, or bottle. You can order a package with multiple sizes to fit different circumferences. You can either use them as an actual handle or have your child slip their hand(s) underneath them to help stabilize. My son is 2.5 and I really wish we would've come by these sooner.

  8. Adding a couple more tips from Facebook users:
    • ez-pz makes a silicone placemat, along with plates/bowls that suction to the surface: http://ezpzfun.com
    • Use dollar store foam curlers to build up handles

  9. Oh, this is great! Thank you! My daughter turned 5 this week and just started eating last year by mouth. She has been completely uninterested in self feeding, but we'll hopefully get there. Excited to try some of these!


  10. However, none of those square measure essentially Associate in Nursing absolute 'fix'. Encouraging your breastfed baby to simply accept a bottle may be a method that will need your observe and patience for many weeks see more information click here.


Thanks for sharing!

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