Feeding A Child With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that is caused due to abnormal brain development. Damages to the baby’s brain during or after birth are also responsible for causing this condition.

A baby suffering from cerebral palsy can develop involuntary motor movement due to decreased coordination between different sensors in the body.

These babies can also develop muscle rigidity and stiffness leading to loss of sensation,making it very difficult to feed the child due to reduced ability to swallow food or close the lips.

With complications of this nature, it is highly important to give the baby adequate nutrients in the right amounts to prevent development of malnourishment, a problem experienced by many babies affected with cerebral palsy.The difficulty involved in making the child eat makes many parents apprehensive.

However, if your baby is suffering from this condition it is important for you to understand your child’s behavior and try out certain tricks that would make the baby eat without spitting or vomiting.

Tips You May Follow About Child With Cerebral Palsy:

Best Feeding Position:

It is important to place your baby in a comfortable position where he/she will be able to swallow food without experiencing regurgitation symptoms.

Placing the baby in wrong positions will lead to further complications, forcing the baby to vomit due to reflex action of the digestive system that forces food to backflow.

The position which the child is most comfortable with differs from one baby to the other. Therefore, it is advisable to try out various positions and experiment before figuring out the correct type of position that your baby is most comfortable with.

Speak to The Child:

Constantly engaging yourself with the bay and communicating with him/her will make the baby feel secure allowing his/her brain to assimilate your words, creating a calming environment. This will automatically make the baby react in a positive way when you try feeding him/her.

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Include Nutritious Meals:

You should prepare a meal that is extremely rich in nutrients because babies suffering from cerebral palsy have an increased chance of becoming malnourished.This is due to decreased food intake and mal absorption of the digested food leading to loss of excess nutrients.

Foods rich in calories, carbohydrates and protein dense foods have to be supplied to prevent incidences of malnourishment. However, it is very important for you to talk to your pediatrician or nutritionist before bringing about drastic changes in the baby’s meal.

A sudden change will not be accepted by babies irrespective of whether they are healthy or are suffering from cerebral palsy. Therefore, the transition from breast milk to semi solid foods should be slow and under the supervision of the pediatrician.

Visual Appeal:

In some cases, babies with cerebral palsy are affected with hearing losses. This coupled with decreased sensitive to external stimuli will make babies unaware of the surroundings.This could be one of the main reasons for the baby to not accept food.

If this is the case, bring the bowl or plate containing food close to the baby’s face so that he/she can smell and see the food. Showing the spoon used for feeding is also helpful in making the baby understand that he/she should eat the food.

You can combine the aforementioned methods after consulting your doctor, pediatrician or physiotherapist to see effective results in your baby’s eating patterns, helping the child lead a normal life.

Photo Credit: childrenandbabiesnoteating.com

Nasmeera Firdous