31 for 21: Musical chairs, part 3

When Elijah began eating solid foods, he already sat up well, so we never needed a high chair with all the fancy fixins. We used a portable, inexpensive Fisher-Price booster seat, which was great since our kitchen is too small for a full-sized high chair.

Elijah's first solid food, sitting in his booster seatThe booster comes with a snap-on washable tray lid that’s supposed to be a handy feature. Of course, our baby immediately learned how to snap it right off and launch it across the room.

No matter. Elijah was happy in that seat and never minded being belted in. We knew nothing about the struggle other parents face teaching their kids to chew, swallow, and eat their veggies. Elijah was eager for his first bite, and it seems as though he’s never stopped. He’s a very big boy.

As he grew, we snapped off the seat back and abandoned the tray for the kitchen table. A few months ago, Elijah simply announced he would sit in a regular chair, like mom and dad. He is no longer trapped at the table. We’re working on his asking to be excused.

My lasting impression of Elijah in his booster seat is of this big kid sitting in front of the living room window eating breakfast on the little attached tray while watching and waving at the garbage man. The garbage truck driver gamely waved back every Friday morning.

Elijah’s chair, with its compact, flat back and broad, flat seat, would never do for Raphael, whose low muscle tone would leave him falling forward, backward, or over one side without added support. I’ve had to make many adaptations to support Raphael’s ability to sit and needed various pieces of baby equipment to support his eating, the most obvious one being his chair.

His first seat was helpful in its adjustibility, but short lived. His next seat has been working well for a long time.

Raphael with a face full of cake on his second birthdayBut now that Raphael is bigger, stronger, and gaining ground on the feeding front – hurray! – I’m making some equipment changes again.

First, we ripped off the do-it-yourself Styrofoam footrest Raphael’s OT had duct taped to the base of his high chair because his feet can now reach the chair bottom.

(Raphael usually just hangs his toes from the underside of the tray anyway rather than plant them on the intended foot rest. One can only provide support; one can’t make a person use it.)

Homemade foot rest on Raphael's high chair
Homemade duct taped Styrofoam high-chair foot rest. Attractive, isn’t it?

Next, we tried tucking folded receiving blankets (they’re still good for something!) behind the seat’s back pad for lumbar support, but that made Raphael’s head fall back too much. We tried filling in the scoop-shaped seat back to flatten it, but that led to a similarly awkward posture.

Finally, we put the folded fabric under his sit bones to tilt his pelvis forward. With that adaptation, Raphael’s back is still angled back too far, but at least he is angled with a straight back.

The next thing we want to try is a standard booster seat, with a seatbelt, of course. We need to see whether Raphael has enough side-to-side control and torso strength to last him through his meals. The focus of feeding time is on successful swallowing, chewing, hand-mouth coordination, and such; we don’t want Raphael wasting energy working his abs at the same time.

I’ll have to let you know how the booster works after a week or two of testing mode.

I know I’m ready to sit down.

Elijah and Raphael eating apples

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About elizamom

Colorado mother of two small boys. One happens to have Down syndrome.
This entry was posted in Baby Gear, Down syndrome, Parenting Special Needs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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