Breastfeeding your baby is entirely possible. Babies tend to sleep a lot and do not necessarily wake up for their feeds. This means possibly choosing to wake your baby up at regular times to breastfeed. Your baby may regurgitate quite a bit, and may not put on weight. There are several brands of specially enriched formula milks that can partially solve this problem and thus favour weight gain.
Long feeds can be exhausting for mothers. If you choose to use bottles, you must find the most suitable teat if baby tends to swallow the wrong way. You might also find it helps to thicken the milk: ask your doctor if this is required and how to go about it.
Like for all children, diversifying foods requires patience because, before certain foods are accepted, you may sometimes have to propose them several times. To get your child to chew, you can start by offering him soft foods (avocado as from 1 year, beetroot, mango, white meat, fish, etc.).
To help your child learn how to chew and swallow, consult your speech therapist for advice. To teach your child to bite, you can offer him a rice cracker before the meal for example, emphasizing the noise it makes and using small bite-size pieces, one at a time. You can repeat this process for the dessert with something the child likes. The child’s position at the table is important: he or she must be properly seated, suitably propped up and facing the table, with the upper body uncluttered in order to improve chewing, swallowing and digestion.
If a child is feeling a bit bilious, or does not have an appetite, it is best if he or she does not eat alone. Being with others at mealtimes in a happy atmosphere, seeing others eating, the child will understand the importance of eating.
During the first years (1 to 3 years), the child must eat everything and within reason. You should avoid giving sodas and foods that are too fatty. If the child has digestive problems, if you see your child wriggling, or if he or she has diarrhoea, a drop in appetite or even a change in behaviour, talk to your doctor to see whether your child has a food allergy. In fact, the Down syndrome child is more predisposed to gluten and lactose allergies. In this case, the doctor will prescribe the relevant tests and an adapted diet (sugar, gluten or lactose free, etc.).
Due to a certain tendency to obesity, the child must do some form of physical activity, and adopt good eating habits very early on: eating at mealtimes and not between meals, eating balanced diet (low fat and very low sugar). Sugar can be replaced by low sugar foods such as pureed apple or powdered almond. You can also buy sugar-free purees and baby foods.
Your child should try everything, without forgetting that some more acidic foods are not always accepted, and that each child has his or her own preferences. Food must be varied and balanced. Fresh produce provide the necessary vitamins for the child. The quantity of foods must be adapted to their level of physical activity. The fact is that the risk of the child becoming obese is real but not inevitable. A good diet, regular physical activity, good prevention or readjustment of orthopaedic disorders, are precious ways of preventing or fighting excess weight.
Here are a few suggestions for providing a good balanced diet and healthy life style for all the family:
Give children low sugar foods and get them to drink water instead of fizzy drinks. Fizzy drinks should only be permitted at parties. And there’s no need to party everyday!
Make sure the child does not have a second helping -one serving is enough
Give your child one serving of bread for the whole meal. Do not give a second serving.
Propose a varied diet without giving in to tantrums or whims. If your child refuses to eat a food, do not give him or her anything else.
Encourage your child affectionately and frequently, without forgetting to use humour because your teenager will accept food constraints more readily. Motivated by the idea of pleasing, of being prettier, of wearing a pretty dress, a young girl can make colossal efforts. And if things slide backwards, it doesn’t matter as long as you are there to help and start again.
If there is excessive weight gain, you may decide to take away a certain type of food (jam, sugar, bread and butter, cheese, or draw up a diet table, etc.). Once the weight curve has come back to normal, things can go back to normal. It may be easy to lose 2kg or even 5kg, but it is practically impossible to lose 20 or 30 kg. Still, nobody puts on 20kg in a week!
In the event of excessive weight gain or weight loss, then a thyroid and glycaemia test should be carried out. Before talking about “premature aging” or Alzheimer’s, the point is to examine the simple things that can be easily identified. Obesity can create severe stretch marks, and there are special creams for this. In this case, you will need to choose suitable undergarments, treat any skin cuts in folds (above all the inguinal folds in boys. Suggest a boxer short rather than a Y-front) and encourage walking. Swimming is of course recommended, but your teenager may refuse to go to the swimming pool because of obesity.
To fight constipation, your child must drink a lot of water and eat fruit and fibres in his diet. These natural foods make transit easier. If your child doesn’t have food allergies, you can also propose dried fruits (apricots, prunes, kiwi, figs, dates, etc.).