What Can My 5 Month Old With 2 Teeth Eat Three Common Issues in Foster Children: Hygiene, Eating Problems and Fear of the Dark

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Three Common Issues in Foster Children: Hygiene, Eating Problems and Fear of the Dark

Children who have been abused and neglected often have similar problems when they come into residential care (commonly called foster care).

Here are three problems a foster parent may encounter and some possible solutions.

1. Hygiene: A child may not know how to bathe and brush their teeth. If they are small, you can help them. If they are older, I have a suggestion that has worked for me. After having an older child for a few months, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t seem to clean herself even though she had been in the bathroom for a long time. One day I got the idea to get a plastic doll and she and I bathed her. She really had no idea how to bathe a baby. Things we take for granted, like lathering up a washcloth, going from head to toe, and drying off, were never taught. When she learned to bathe the doll, she did much better. In addition, I taught her how to bathe the baby, which she will probably have to do one day.

2. Problems with food, especially hoarding and overeating. Keep in mind that foster children often come from homes where food was not readily available, so hoarding and overeating can occur. You can find food hidden in their rooms, maybe even food that doesn’t make any sense, like 10 moldy bologna sandwiches under the mattress or food you threw in the trash.

Another problem is that foster children may never have learned the cycle of trust and bonding in childhood. The trust and bond cycle is a fundamental indicator of how to learn to trust. The baby gets hungry and cries. A nurse comes to pick him up and feed him. His needs are met. Children in abusive and neglected homes go hungry. They are crying. But maybe no one will come. Or someone comes and abuses them or props up the bottle and leaves. This lack of basic trust leads to eating and personality disorders.

It is imperative that you make food available to children in foster care 24/7, but it is okay to set boundaries. You don’t want the child to become obese, and you also don’t want to spend $500 a week on groceries. There are different thoughts on that. Some people say let them eat whatever they want, but set some limits, like they have to eat all the food at the dinner table. Some people say make them a drawer or a cabinet. Some people say only planned meals and snacks.

After trial and error, this is what I suggest: Plan three meals and two healthy snacks. Tell the child that he is expected to eat at the table. If they don’t like what you have, say they can always have (for example) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cheese and crackers. Keep it simple. You don’t have to cook multiple meals. In addition to the offered menu, put the child’s own basket in the kitchen and place in it snacks that are healthy and that they like, but not necessarily things that the child will need.

We once had a child who wanted to eat all the time and hoard food. We started with a big basket of goodies in the fridge and on the counter. She would eat it all and come back for more. She came to us very thin, but gained 25 kilos in the first month! We eventually learned that if we put applesauce and Cheerios in the basket, she would eat it if she was really hungry, but not if she wasn’t hungry. Knowing that it was always there and no one else would eat it, she began to believe that food would always be available. Only then did she stop partying.

3. Fear of the Dark: Nighttime in an abusive or neglectful home can be a terror for children. When they come to your house, provide them with a night light or let them sleep with the lights on. Leave a light on in the bedroom. Let them sleep with their clothes on if they want. Girls may want to sleep in a bra. They may want extra blankets or even sleep with a coat on. Leave them. Place a CD player in the foster child’s room and, depending on their age (up to 12 years), play soothing music and play the same CD every night. He eventually associates music with safety and sleep. It will take a long time to trust that the night is safe in your home.

Trust is learned, so be trustworthy.

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