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Additional Needs Mealtimes Advice

‘You can see what he had for lunch by what is on his shirt’’

This is the case for many people who for various reasons may not have quite mastered the art of ‘tidy’ eating…

Some children and young people may struggle with fine and gross motor skills, reduced movement or lack of muscle tone and have trouble gripping or holding any cutlery. This could be because of their physical and/or sensory ability.  Some children and young people find that using their fingers to pick up food is often quicker. (as parents we know that is often not the case for us – by the time we have had done our 4th Laundry load of the day! )

Using adaptive cutlery can help – with a little bit of practice and prompting – sometimes hand over hand (and advice from your friendly Occupational Therapist/Physiotherapist if you have them) - the laundry load can be lower in time. See the Gripware range for different types of crockery made from robust and tough Melamine (and not best Bone China) so should it get bashed against the table or thrown across the room is less likely to shatter!

Sometime Sensory and ‘sameness’ needs dictate what colour, texture, size of plate, cup or cutlery must be. Drinking from a cup may feel very different than drinking from a sports bottle when you have some Oral sensitivities.  We know that drinking from a sports bottle or through a straw can often give more proprioceptive feedback for example. Some people cannot tolerate one food touching other food on their plate – we have plates with compartments too plus different shape plates to make them easier to hold, and to stay on the table without slipping.

Many children and young people may associate different colours with different objects – must be a red cup, must be a blue plate etc and have their own preferred choices. I drink my coffee from a Miami Mug – and I’m not happy if someone else uses it!

For the sake of the laundry basket – it can be easier to have children and young people wear a neckerchief, bib or apron at mealtimes, if they can.   There is a wide range of styles, colours and textures to choose from on our site, until mealtimes become a less massy time – maybe they would like to choose their own?

We can help to make mealtimes easier and put strategies in place to support this. But remember whoever said –of a child with any food difficulties  ‘’if your child is hungry/thirsty they will eat/drink’’ often does not know our children very well.

Looking at the bigger picture is the key.

Shona Chambers
PGCERT in Positive Behaviour Support

Adaptive Plates, Crockery and Eating Aids

Fledglings range of adapted plates and crockery is designed to make feeding easier and encourage independent eating at mealtimes.

We offer different type of plates and bowls, including weighted plates and plates with non-slip bases which will not slip so easily. We also have plates and bowls with raised sides, which make pushing the food onto a fork or spoon easier. While non-slip mats can stop plates and dishes slipping away from you as you eat.

Keep warm partitioned dish

Keep warm / partitioned dishes and high side plates

Some crockery is available with a water reservoir in them which allows hot water to be added. This will keep food warmer for longer - useful if a person needs more time to finish their meal. Alternatively, they can be used with cold water to keep food such as ice cream cooler. There are also partitioned dishes without the keep warm option if they are more suitable for those children who like to have food items separately. 

Then there are dishes with a raised edge on one side help the user push the food to the back of the plate and on to a fork or spoon. The higher side prevents the food being pushed off the plate. Equally high straight sides can help prevent falling off and making it easier to use cutlery. 


Special needs adaptive cutlery set


Special adaptive cutlery enables children to eat more independently. The Kura Care set with special contoured profiles are available for both children and adults alike. These help the user to to hold onto each item with more ease especially if they have a weaker grip.

The there are sets such as the EasiEaters Curved utensil set that is available both for right and left handed children. These are angled so less movement is required of the hand or arms.

Doidy cup in red

Drinking aids

The Doidy cup is just one option you can consider and is designed to help those moving on from a bottle. The slant reduces the need to tilt the head as much.

There are cups with built in straws, 2 handled cups with lids, mugs and lite cups. All specifically designed to make it easier for anyone with a disability to be more independent. 

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