Three Helps for Eating Delays

Some children with Spina Bifida can experience struggles with eating.  Our daughter is eating quite well now, but she went through a long period where she could not tolerate most kinds of foods.  I remember being concerned at her first birthday party about letting her taste the icing on her cake, knowing she could possibly gag and throw it up.  Foods with texture were the problem for her.  We tried going from the number one baby foods to the number two baby foods, but were never successful in getting her comfortable with the thick texture.  We also let her try to taste mashed potatoes and other soft foods, but she did not seem to handle anything like that at all.  Through Early Intervention we were able to get the support of an Occupational Therapist.  He gave us a good education and broke down a lot of what was happening with our daughter.  He, along with our pediatrician gave some great ideas for helping her to learn to eat.  The following are three things that helped us a great deal.

1. A Toothbrush.  Toothbrushes can give good oral stimulation to children who have delays with eating.  The more they allow the toothbrush to go back into their mouth and side to side, the more they get accustomed to working with things in their mouths.  We put a toothbrush in her car seat, and every time she went for a ride in the car she would play with the toothbrush and give herself that oral stimulation.

2. Baby Safe Feeders.  These are little mesh bags attached to rings, easy for gripping.  The mesh bags can hold fruit and other kinds of soft foods.  Your baby then can taste foods without the risk of gagging and choking.  We used these with a number of different foods, but especially with bananas.

3. Puffy Cheetos.  I saved my favorite for last!  Puffy Cheetos go in the mouth as a solid food, but immediately melt.  They are in the category of foods that our O.T. calls “meltable solids.”  Other foods such as Bugles and puffed finger foods (put out by Gerber in the baby food section) also fit into this category.  Puffy Cheetos became a great opportunity for self-feeding and enjoyment when the rest of the family was sitting up to eat.  They also became a stepping-stone to other foods because of the good experience she had with them and the oral stimulation.

Please share other ideas that have worked for you and your child.  Just hit the comment button and write a response. :)

Thanks, Meilani K.

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