Written by Deann Borkowski, CAS & ABC Clinical Director
In my role as an Adoption Social Worker, when I was doing post-adoption visits, feeding was often one of the main struggles for families, particularly when they arrived home with their child. Therefore, I wanted to share a few tips. As always, feel free to reach out to me or to our team at Carolina Adoption Services for more information!
Please keep in mind that any child can have problems eating when he or she is exposed to new types of food. Therefore, it is important to be cognizant of the following:
- Textures (Children may prefer only certain texture foods, such as only meats)
- Smell (Children are often accustomed to the smell of orphanage food or to the smell of their home country. They may have difficulty tolerating new sights, sounds, and smells. You can try freezing food, if applicable, to take away some of the smell, such as frozen carrots or broccoli, instead of fresh vegetables.)
- Temperatures (Do not prepare food very hot or very cold)
- Feeding techniques (Some may only be able to be bottle-fed through a large nipple, rather than eat from a spoon. Or, your child may have had an aversive feeding experience.)
- Feeding position (Some children may be used to being fed by a caregiver or worker, but facing away from them. It may be a difficult adjustment to face you and make eye contact)
- If possible, request your child’s caregivers show you how they feed the child, what they feed child, and with what.
- Be flexible with feeding routines and techniques. If possible, try and bring home some of the formula or food from your child’s home country for the transition.
- Decrease over-stimulation prior to and during feeding.
- Ensure your child is well rested.
- Do not stare at your child or force eye contact. Allow your child to initiate eye contact.
- Do not be concerned if there is a lack of food variety in the first days and weeks.
- Oral aversions, low muscle tone, medical conditions, as well as behavioral/emotional challenges can lead to feeding difficulties. It is recommended that your child have a full medical evaluation, by a team that specializes in international adoption, to include an occupational therapy evaluation. We can provide you with information on teams skilled in this throughout the country, if needed.