Look at that cute face. It’s a chubby little face. You’d never guess that this boy won’t eat anything that isn’t pureed. (Sorry; I can’t figure out how to put the accent on “puree.”) And I mean nothing. We’ve tried:
- Every fiddlestick, cruncher, toddler finger food thing-a-ma-bob
- French toast
- Cake, muffins, pancakes
- Cottage cheese (this is even too lumpy for him)
- Soft cooked veggies
- Teeny, tiny bites of strawberries
- And dozens more
He refuses, cries, and if I get the food in there, he coughs, chokes and spits. He has acid reflux (or had it; I’m still giving him the medicine for now just in case) and it’s possible that foods with more texture irritate his throat.
We were referred to an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding issues. It took four weeks to get an appointment. Four long, agonizing weeks while his non-eating habits solidified. The day of his appointment, they called to say the therapist was sick and the earliest they could reschedule us was three weeks out. So we waited. That day came – last week – and my phone rang. This time, the therapist had a family emergency, and would I like to reschedule?
NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH I WANT TO BE SEEN TODAY!
Actually, the scheduler was very nice and jumped through hoops to find someone to see us that day. The problem was, the therapist we saw usually works with older children, not infants, so we left feeling about as confused as when we arrived. We’re scheduled to go back next week to meet with someone else. <sigh>
In the meantime, we have to do a food challenge once a day. We are to take a pureed food, like carrots or sweet potato, and put chunks of the same veggie in it. We tell our son to “take his bite” and wait for him to take it. We’re supposed to ignore the tears and if he puts his hands up (which he sure does as he tries to bat the spoon away), we are to lay our arm over his arms (push his arms down; don’t restrain his hands) and insist he take his bite. If he still refuses after 20 seconds, we are to smear the “bite” on his mouth (I guess the thinking is he’ll lick it off, which my son never does). If he takes his bite, we’re to praise him and offer a reward of food or a toy.
I should have asked the therapist to show me how to do all this, not just tell me cuz I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Plus, our little guy just swallows those soft chunks. It’s just like a Level 3 food. He doesn’t chew. (She did test to see if he could chew and he does know how, so that’s something.)
We reward him with yogurt because that is his favorite thing in the whole world. There isn’t much he won’t do to get his yogurt at dinner.
It went well the first two nights, but has been awful every night since then. I was so exhausted at the thought of it last night that I didn’t even try. My husband did it one night and he said he clenched his jaw so much that his neck was sore.
This is not fun.
I’m confused and unsure if we’re doing the right thing. I hope this next therapist is better. I’ve heard that there are groups that come into your home and work with your child. If this next appointment isn’t more useful, then I will look into that . . . and probably have to wait forever to get an appointment again.
Anybody out there who’s been through this successfully? Care to share your insights?
And what causes it? Could this all be stress-related because we moved when he was 10 months old? He got a new nanny at the same time so there were a lot of changes. And then he started cutting molars, caught a cold, then a stomach virus, then another cold, and an ear infection. All within about 2.5 months. Can that much stress cause a baby to delay his development in one area? He’s on track with everything else, I think. He used to eat puffs and gnaw on teething biscuits or cookies – not often, but he did do it occasionally. Just will not do it at all now.
Here’s the other frustrating thing about this food challenge program. He’s not really doing anything different by eating chunky sweet potatoes than if he were eating a Level 3 food (which he eats every day). All I’m doing is pissing him off by making him wait for his yogurt. If I gave him the yogurt first, he would then eat those sweet potatoes like no big deal.
The therapist didn’t teach us how to get him to take finger food, which is the real problem. I don’t want to force his mouth open to shove a puff in there. I guess we’ll learn that next time.
Reader Marie posted a comment last time I blabbed about this that she is going through the same thing with her son who is two months younger than mine. One of the great things about the Internet is the opportunity to connect with people like Marie to share our stories and swap tips. For those of you who are going through this, too, we’ll keep you posted on our progress!