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Feeding Utensils

What are feeding utensils?

Feeding utensils are special dishes and utensils to help you eat if you have trouble using your arms or hands.

What kinds of utensils are available?

There are many kinds of utensils to help you feed yourself. You can buy these utensils at a medical supply store. Your caregiver will help decide which ones are best for you. The following are some of the dishes and utensils available.

  • Glasses and cups.
  • Straws.
  • Dishes.
  • Flatware.

Who needs to use these utensils?

If you have trouble holding something in your hands, you may need special utensils in order to eat. This may be a result of an injury to your arms or hands and some neck injuries. These utensils may also be needed after having a stroke. You may need these feeding devices for a short time or for the rest of your life.

How should these utensils be used?

Following are some utensils you can use and a description of them. Your caregiver will help you learn how to use these utensils. Call your caregiver if you are worried or have trouble using these utensils.

  • Glasses and cups: You may need only a terry cloth sleeve over the bottom part of the glass for a better grasp. If you need more help there are several types of cups you can use.
    • Plain small plastic cups are lighter and easier to hold in your hand.
    • Cups with holders on each side can be held with both hands.
    • A pedestal or T-handle cup has a plastic piece that sticks out on one side shaped like a T. You can rest your fingers on the T-handle making it easier to hold the cup.
    • A cup with a V-shaped opening on the rim allows you to tip the cup all the way. This helps if you cannot bend your neck backward.
    • Insulated cups are for the person who does not feel how cold or hot drinks are. This prevents the person from getting burned.
    • Cups with an opening on the lid can be used to avoid spills.
  • Straws for drinking: Many kinds of straws are available. Some are plain plastic straws that you can buy at any grocery or drug store. Some straws are rigid, flexible, disposable, or reusable. There are some straws that are wide enough to drink thicker liquids, like soup.
  • Dishes: It is best to use plastic plates or bowls that do not break to prevent injury. Following are a few utensils you can use to make it easier to eat.
    • Nonskid plates have a base made of a material that will not let the plate slide on the table. Suction cups can also be attached to the bottom of the plate.
    • A plate guard can be put on one side of the plate away from the hand used for eating. The food is pushed against the plate guard to help get the food on the fork or spoon.
    • Scooper plates are deep with a special guard inside to help scoop the food on the spoon.
    • Sectioned plates or trays have sections for the different foods. This kind of plate keeps the food looking more attractive by not letting the food get mixed together.
  • Flatware: There are different kinds of forks, spoons, and knives available that are easy to use. Following are descriptions of some of these utensils.
    • A universal cuff has bands that fit around your hand and can be secured with Velcro. The cuff has a place where you can put the fork or spoon. This helps you hold the spoon or fork if your hands are weak and you are not able to grasp.
    • A swivel spoon has padded handles and rotates to help get it in the correct position for your mouth. This is helpful if you cannot move your forearm very much.
    • Utensils with long handles have padded handles that bend to right or left as needed. This utensil also has a strap to fit around your hand.
    • Utensils with ready-made padded handles may be used by a person who has difficulty grasping.These utensils are available for left-handed or right-handed people.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your illness or injury, and how to use special feeding utensils. You can then discuss your treatment options with your caregiver. You can work with him or her to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.