Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not your average chair

Having a child with a differing ability makes you think differently about child development.

I have to do things a little different with Ola. Normal things, things I took for granted with Poppy. I have to specifically choose her bottles, the nipples for that matter. I have to specifically choose the spoons, the cereal, and the juice. The things I choose for Ola usually are not the things on sale at the store. They are chosen with thought, purpose and with the thinking of "How can this help her? How will this make it easier? How will it teacher her?"

When Ola was 5 months old I decided that I was going to start introducing rice cereal just as I had with Poppy. I tried once, not much luck. I waited a month and tried again with a bit for enthusiasm. Ola ended up in the hospital and eating cereal became the last thing on my mind. In December we started up again.

Feeding a child with Down syndrome is tricky... and frustrating for all parties involved. Because of their smaller palates, their tongues seem larger and tend to thrust everything out with vigour. It's a natural response for them and it can make you want to rip your hair out!

You are "supposed" to use a more "shovel" like spoon, and don't forget that you are never supposed to lift the spoon to remove only pull it out straight! Man... feeding couldn't be more complicated. Luckily for me Ola doesn't seem to have any texture issues that are said to be common.

We originally started feeding her in her Bumbo on the table, however once she could pop herself out it wasn't safe. I dragged out our high chair and quickly realized that I would be making some modifications. I laughed the first time I saw her in it. It was ridiculously huge, she was drowning in it.

I did the best I could every time we needed it. Stacked two phone books on the seat, tightened the straps to the smallest size, and rolled up two receiving blankets to stuff on either side of her hips and torso to minimize slumping. Even with all the modifications she still couldn't reach up on to the tray and forget about the footrest. It was 4 inches too low.

After a conversation with out IDP I had an AHA! moment and decided to go scouring the internet looking for high chairs suited to children with special needs. I don't know why it hadn't crossed my mind earlier, why would her high chair needs be any different than her spoon needs? :)

One chair came up over and over....

The Stokke Tripp Trapp.

Photo courtesy of Stooke.com

 Mark and I had really admired this highchair after we saw a friends older child still using theirs. We tried to convince them to let us have it, but they wanted to keep it!  Stokke takes pride in the fact that a child can really grow in this chair. It can be used right until adulthood because of the adjustability.

Photo courtesy of Stokke.com

I knew Ola needed to have this chair because of how much she would benefit from it. Getting this chair was really exciting. I ordered it right from Stokke and it was like Christmas when it was delivered. I didn't wait for Mark to get home, I dove right in and was pleasantly surprised that I had it assembled in less than 10 minutes! (probably doable in 5, but I kept getting interrupted!) The design is simple and straightforward and with only 10 allan key bolts used for assembly there is no guessing as to where they have to go.

The ability to adjust the chair to fit any child is a huge selling point to me. After seeing Ola's little feet dangle from her other chair I knew that having her feet firmly planted would not only benefit her posture, but also eliminate the constant fidgeting which I saw as a distraction from the task at hand. I was also able to adjust the harness to fit her. It adjusts at all points allowing you to tighten it right up if you need to, or let it out in one or all positions. We also ordered the Baby Set which is an added higher slightly curved back rest and rail support. In Ola's case I have a feeling that we will be using this additional set for extra support for quite some time until she is fully mobile and strong.

{ a shot of the cute cat harness and Baby Set extra backrest and rail support}

The other thing that I love about this chair is the ability for her to be pulled right to the table for meal times. The Tripp Trapp doesn't come with a tray for this reason. The chairs highest position is a perfect height for Ola to be at the table. She is almost perfectly level with the table top. Within a day of having our chair I noticed a huge difference in Ola's behaviour at the table. She was more excited, banging her hands and toys. She interacted with us, babbled, smiled and seemed genuinely interested in the fact that we were eating.

{ pulled right to the table and loving every minute of it! }

Ola spends every meal time with us at the table now, not off to the side in her other chair. And after having the chair for about two weeks now I can tell how much more engaged she is. She isn't wasting her time or energy constantly adjusting her position or slumping over. She can reach so far on to the table and she is grabbing at everything (something I was trying desperately to get her to do only a short time ago.) Because the Tripp Trapp doesn't have a high overpowering back on it, she is now able to turn her head at different noises in the kitchen and I notice her turning to hear voices and conversations.

Her old chair allowed her to lounge, and slouch like she was in an old comfy chair. This chair encourages her to sit up straight using her core muscles, something she needs to master in order to sit up by herself.

To see her sit in this highchair makes me smile.  I really enjoy looking at our bright green, stylish, and modern highchair but those are just an added bonus to the fact that Ola is enjoying her mealtimes and actually eating!

The Stokke Tripp Trapp is an investment, but for our family it was a great one!

I can't put it any better myself!  (taken from the Stokke website)

"At Stokke®, we are committed to putting children first. Our products are designed and constructed specifically to encourage child development and to strengthen the bonds between parents and children in those crucial early weeks, months and years. We believe it is in a child’s best interests to be as close as possible to his or her parents, and to be placed in an environment of genuine safety and security, free to learn and to grow. Our products are innovative, sustainable and childcentred, providing smart solutions for your baby’s needs and fitting easily into your home and life. Stokke® products are designed to grow with your child. We believe that children and parents should grow together and that we can help with every part of you and your child’s day, from eating and sleeping to playing and learning and strolling around town - always close, always together, always growing, always Stokke®." 

1 comment:

Laura said...

And now I read your fabulous review. Love it!

I am going to scour around to see how much I can get one of these for... I have admired them for a long, long time. :)