Raising a child with cerebral palsy will come with challenges, but there will be rewards as well. This is one of the most common childhood disorders that children are diagnosed with, and the issues that impact your child can range from mild to severe.
From the moment your child is born, the one thing that you’ll need to take on is feeding them.
For children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, this is a task that will probably take longer than usual, no matter how mild the disorder is. This task may seem daunting at first, but give it time and you’ll develop a routine.
Cerebral palsy is often caused by preventable injuries that were caused by a medical professional’s mistake, which led to your child being deprived of oxygen and sustaining brain damage.
Dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury can feel confusing, but plenty of helpful information is available online.
Conditions That Make Feeding Babies With Cerebral Palsy Challenging
Dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury can feel confusing, stressful, and even frustrating. Every child is different, whether they have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or not.
There’s no one right way to feed a child with CP, so you’ll have to go with whatever works for you after some trial and error.
When it comes to feeding, some of the issues that you might encounter that make this process challenging include the following:
Inability to Control Their Lips and Tongue
One of the first things a newborn learns is how to suck. This allows them to be able to feed, whether they are getting their nutrition from a bottle or their mother’s breast.
The action may be something they are born with, but they have to develop control and know when to use the sucking motion to get food.
For children with cerebral palsy, they may not be able to control the lips and tongue, which can make sucking incredibly challenging.
The severity of your child’s condition will determine if they are able to drink from a bottle or nurse. Even if they can, it may take longer than average.
Poor Body Muscle Control
In addition to being unable to control the muscles in their lips and tongue, a child with cerebral palsy might also be unable to control their body movements.
This could be due to poor muscle tone, also known as hypotonia, or perhaps they are prone to spastic or jerky movements. In some cases, your child might also have stiff or rigid movements.
Issues With Swallowing
Another common issue that makes it challenging to feed a child with cerebral palsy is that they might not have a fully developed swallowing mechanism.
This can increase the risk of choking or aspirating their food. If the food is inhaled into their lungs, this can lead to infections, including aspiration pneumonia.
How to Feed a Child With Cerebral Palsy
It is recommended that you give your baby extra head and body support during feedings. This will make it easier for them to keep their movements under control and help with being able to swallow their meal.
Give them plenty of time to swallow what they have been offered to prevent choking or aspiration of their food.
Get Help if Necessary
Dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury can feel confusing. One of the most common problems that arises with feeding children with cerebral palsy is that they don’t get enough nutrition.
If you find that you are struggling or need some help, then don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Your child’s pediatrician is a great resource. If it turns out that feedings are incredibly difficult and your child isn’t getting the nutrients they need, they may recommend a feeding tube.
At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for your baby. Take the steps and talk to the people who can help with that endeavor, and know that you’re never in this alone.