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Meal time


Eating and drinking is important for independence, socialising and health.

It requires a complex range of skills that develop over time.

If you have concerns about the safety of your child’s eating/swallow please discuss this with your GP or speech and language therapist. 

How you can you help

Click on the green headings below for more information at each step.

As your child progresses and the tasks get easier slowly reduce the amount of assistance.

Children with emerging skills may be eating finger foods and starting to use a spoon independently. They may be starting to drink out of a lidded beaker.

  • It can help if your child has a bib or clothing they can get messy in.
  • Some foods such as thicker yoghurt, mashed potato or porridge is an easy choice that stick to the spoon
  • Give lots of opportunities to try new foods of different textures and flavours, ideally this would be the same food as the rest of the family.
  • Be positive about trying new foods even if they don’t like them
  • Use thicker cutlery as this is easier to hold (this could be standard toddler cutlery or specialist for older children)
  • Check the plate/bowl isn’t sliding around. A non slip surface or mat may be useful.
  • If scooping is difficult use a bowl/plate with higher sides (or attach a plate guard for older children)
  • A closed top cup or beaker is usually a good place to start. Sometimes this requires you to try a few before finding the right one.
  • Looking in a mirror whilst eatingcan help some children with hand/mouth co-ordination.


Young People with additional needs

Meal times #TopTips

  • Sitting at a table

  • Picky eaters

How we can help

We hope this information will provide you with ideas to break each area of the activity into achievable steps.

If you require further help, you can phone us on our ADVICE LINE or ask your child's school, nursery or health professional to complete a referral form and send it to us.

For professionals: Referral forms can be found on the 'contact us' page

Need more information

For more information about a healthy diet visit:

There are a range of products for special needs children available online...

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