Babik I, Movva N, Baraldi Cunha A, Lobo MA. 2019. Development of self‐feeding behavior in children with typical development and those with arm movement impairments. Dev Psychobiol 00:1–13.
Self‐feeding is a critical self‐care skill that unites motor abilities (e.g., grasping and transporting utensils/food to the mouth) and cognitive abilities (e.g., using a spoon as a tool). This cross‐sectional study assessed self‐feeding behavior in a sample of 38 children with typical development (TD) and compared it between 18 of those children and 18 age‐ and sex‐matched peers with arm movement impairments (MI). Children were assessed with a bowl of cereal and two spoons presented in four different orientations. Results suggested that children with MI were less successful than their TD peers in both motor aspects (e.g., grasp and transport of food and utensils) and cognitive aspects (correct grasp across spoon orientations) of self‐feeding. Novel findings highlight: (a) interesting differences in visual attention between children with TD or MI; (b) the role of hand‐preference in the correct grasping of the spoon(s) and effective self‐feeding; (c) the positive relation between motor and cognitive aspects of self‐feeding; and (d) that greater variability of self‐feeding behavior relates to improved performance of cognitive aspects of the task. These results identify challenging components of self‐feeding for children with MI that should be targeted by early interventions and assistive technologies aimed at increasing self‐feeding independence.