Feeding Contraption for Convenience Doesn’t Make the Cut

When I came across this new invention that made it on to Shark Tank recently, my first thought was “huh”. The “Beebo’s industry-leading technology holds your baby’s bottle for you, allowing you to use your free hand without restriction.” When describing what the Beebo does, the biggest draw for parents is that it is “hands-free”.  According to the manual found online, here are some of the perks: “Hands free feeding lets you: Read a book to your baby. Answer the phone. Use the remote.” Digging into what these perks actually mean is what got me, though.  Let’s take them one at a time. Read a book to your baby. Yes, reading to your baby is a good thing. But where are your eyes when you are reading? On the book. NOT on your baby. When you are feeding a baby, especially a newborn, it is very important to pay attention to their cues and signals. Is the flow too fast? Do they need a break? When the bottle is tilted continuously like this contraption does, the baby does not have control over the flow of the milk, so the milk can flow more quickly than your baby can swallow, increasing the risk of choking or aspiration (liquid in the lungs). If the baby falls asleep while the bottle is still in her mouth and you aren’t looking at her (because you are reading a book or looking at the TV/phone), she is at risk for aspiration as well because the milk keeps flowing into her mouth and she isn’t actively swallowing. Making the feeding the priority creates the opportunity to...

The Lonely Kitchen Island: Physical Obstacles to Family Meals

This post isn’t specifically about the spectrum of picky eating… but it is. One of the major goals of our STEPS+ approach is for families to enjoy eating together again— or perhaps for the first time. We wrote a whole chapter on rehabbing family mealtimes, and one often overlooked piece of the puzzle is the physical space where meals happen. Consider the kitchen island. Other than just being a place to throw keys and homework, the kitchen island in many houses and apartments has replaced the kitchen table. Granite countertops sell homes— humble tables don’t. Growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, most Midwestern middle class kitchens I dined in did not have elaborate islands or counters with stools. I remember sitting around tables. As homes generally got bigger over the last 30 years, it seems the kitchen island became standard and the eat-in kitchen disappeared. On house-calls and play-dates over the years as a childhood feeding specialist and mom, I’ve watched the parent or childcare provider standing behind the island counter preparing food and serving children. By design, the island makes line-cook/wait-staff the easiest option— and there’s nothing wrong with this on occasion. But if it mostly or always happens, it robs children of the most important mealtime ingredient—a loving adult providing company and eating from the same foods (including at least one item the child generally enjoys). So, did form follow, or dictate function? Were parents already standing and serving meals and needed a more efficient way to do so, or did the changing design of modern homes assist the slide of communal family meals?  Moms  (both...

Moving from GET to LET: Supporting the Child with Picky Eating

“I couldn’t get him to eat anything.” While reviewing the progress of the children in my feeding program with my graduate student clinicians, I hear this type of statement all the time. There is sometimes so much ‘get’ that I have to stop the discussion and tell the students to remove that word from their vocabulary during feeding therapy. Why? The words we say out loud, and even in our own heads, can make a huge difference in how we think and feel about others, ourselves, and our actions. How we behave is influenced by what we’re thinking . . . and words are a direct reflection of our thoughts. Words matter. They shape our thinking and other’s perceptions of our message. They can color a conversation, and can change someone’s mind. Words can drive a wedge between partners or support someone so they can go on to change the world.   Henry Ward Beecher said “All words are pegs to hang ideas on”. If we view words in that way, it can help us to see how our language can make a huge difference in not only how our children react to us, but how WE react to THEM. If you have an agenda and the child isn’t cooperating, your instinct is to do something to GET them to play along. So many parents I work with say the following types of things: “How do I GET her to eat more?” “I can’t figure out how to GET him to drink.” “His doctor said we need to GET 24 ounces in him.” “I just can’t GET him to...

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