I recently had the opportunity to be part of a training for a local hospital's BFHI process. I wanted a tactile way for people to feel the differences in palate shapes. Needing the models to be comparable to a newborn's mouth-size, I had the idea of using plastic spoons.
1. I used an air-drying clay and I formed different shapes onto the spoons. They dried overnight without shrinking, which was great since I hadn't put much thought into my supplies. I then used a cement glue to adhere the forms to the plastic spoons. This was all pretty easy stuff. Originally I planned to make lower gums as well, hence the spoons with just the gum-lines. I imagined putting the spoons together with palate-spoon facing the gum-spoon, and adding a tongue in between (balloon with Play-Doh in it so it was flexible). I didn't end up following through with the complete mouth as it wasn't crucial to the skills I was teaching.
2. Up until now this was all pretty simple stuff. But I wanted a coating over the forms, so I decided to use balloons, and this is where it got tricky. I used water balloons, and I had to not only stretch them over the spoons and forms without them breaking, I also had to use the cement glue to ensure the balloons were tightly applied to the forms' odd shapes. The bubble-palate balloon kept pulling away. I had to go through a few balloons because they kept tearing, and then I had to keep my thumb in the bubble for a few minutes to allow for the glue to really grab hold of the balloon. Also the glue is messy, and it will get all over your fingers and your project -- try to wipe it off the spoons ASAP because it is hard to get off the latex later.
3. Overall the process was pretty easy, and I created an ideal-shaped palate (u-shaped and gently sloping from front to back), a bubble palate, a v-shaped palate, and a channel palate.
4. This is how I had participants engage with the spoons -- in a similar fashion as when they are engaging with a real baby's palate, from underneath. The feedback from folks was excellent. The nurses appreciated the variations present, right next to each other, so they had immediate comparisons. Most admitted they never felt a baby's palate except to rule out a cleft, and they could see how this information would be helpful when encountering babies who are struggling with feeding.
This is Max, my amazing demo doll I bought from Magic Cabin Dolls. His tongue sticks out, he is intact, and anatomically correct. These sweet dolls come in different colors, genders, and are machine-washable as well.
If you have questions, or you make your own, let me know! I'd love to see what you come up with.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)