Feeding a Child with Special Needs Before feeding your child, set an appropriate meal-time mood: Provide a quiet atmosphere: no television, but use soft music instead. Wash your hands and your child's face and hands before the meal. Announce that it is time to eat. Seat your child in a comfortable position. The child should be seated in an upright position, with hips and feet at a 90-degree angle (no slouching or feet dangling off of the chair). No slouching from side-to-side: use belt in high chair or pillows on sides if necessary. If your child cannot sit upright in a chair or infant seat, use pillows or towel rolls to prop the child as upright and straight as possible. Sit down facing your child at their eye level. Share positive emotions: stay calm, smile at your child, don't show frustrations with any difficulties during the meal. Give lots of praise. You will also want to use the right equipment: Spoon size should match the size of the child's mouth. Coated spoons are great for infants or children who bite down hard onto a spoon. Sectioned plates or small bowls with a lip on the sides to help self-feeders. "Sporks"—a combined spoon and fork utensil—are also helpful. Sippy cups or mugs with handles for self-feeders. And finally, choose foods wisely: Start the meal by massaging your child's gums with a finger dipped in lemonade. This will get your child sucking. Having your child lick or suck on a popsicle will work the same way. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If your child can self-feed, provide finger foods such as cut-up hard-cooked eggs, cut-up fruit, folded pancakes, quarter-cut sandwiches, etc. Also, serve soup in mugs. Use straws when able. Give sips of fluid between solids. Thicken fluids if needed: use fruit nectars (store bought or make your own using pureed fruit added to juice—i.e., applesauce plus apple juice). Pureed food should be thick enough so it doesn't spill out of the child's mouth—about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add ground meat into your child's diet as teeth come in or you see your child use chewing motions. Add calories/protein but not volume: mix nonfat dry milk into soups, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and hot cereal. Add a dab of margarine, butter, or sour cream where needed, or add cheese sauce to vegetables.