Working Through Feeding Challenges with Your Child: A Consult - Your Kid's Table



My hope when beginning this blog 4 months ago was that Your Kid’s Table would be a place that parents could find reliable answers for feeding challenges they were facing with their children. The posts I write are a good start, but a lot of the time you all have more questions and specific instances that need individual recommendations. For the last two months I have been (slowly) putting together a plan to offer consultation services, so that I am able to provide this one-on-one support.

I am very excited to announce that today that is possible! I am now offering consulting services to address a wide range of feeding and sensory concerns you may have for your child.

Milo and his mother Amanda were my first consult at Your Kid’s Table. Amanda contacted me a few weeks ago with concerns about Milo’s (15 months old) eating. I want to share with you Milo’s story in hope’s that you can apply some of the strategies I gave to Amanda with your own child.

Milo was born 6 weeks early and struggled to eat enough from a bottle most of his first year. He is growing, happy, and has a lot of energy, but is low on the growth chart for weight. Currently, he is eating stage 2 and 3 baby foods and a few crunchy table foods. He refuses to put most table foods into his mouth. Milo also has several food allergies, including peanuts, wheat, and dairy. As you can see, Amanda is facing some challenges. Obviously, the main goal of the consult was to give Amanda strategies to, well, get Milo to eat more table foods.

Skyping with Amanda and Milo

Amanda chose to have her consult over Skype and I was able to see the ridiculously adorable Milo eat a teething biscuit. This was very helpful because it helped me narrow down why he may be refusing some of the foods he is eating. I could see through our video chat that Milo was chewing his food quite well and using a rotary chew. A rotary chew is the jaw moving in a circular motion to really grind up food, this is a mature chew that should develop by 12-24 months. Prior to the rotary chew, babies use an up and down munching chew.

After asking Amanda a few questions, I discovered that Milo gags at the sight of some foods, like bananas. This, in addition to witnessing his rotary chew, is a strong indicator that he may be refusing foods due to sensory sensitivity. Now that I had an idea of why Milo wasn’t eating well, I could  give Amanda more specific strategies for Milo. It would have been difficult for me to be certain of this without seeing him myself.

After watching Milo for a few minutes, Amanda and I spent the rest of the time talking about different strategies. Here are a few : (And, I do mean a few, the written summary I gave her after the consult was nearly 3 pages long.)

  • Give Milo lots of opportunity for messy play through sensory bins and creative play time, like painting. (Click here for more sensory bin ideas and follow me on Pinterest to find all sorts of recipes and ideas for other messy play.)
  • Try a vibrating toothbrush, as he tolerates.  Encourage, don’t force. This will help break down some of the sensory sensitivity he is having in his mouth. Vibration is strong sensory input.
  • Start to get him to tolerate some of the textures he doesn’t like by playing with those foods for a few minutes at the end of the meal.  For example, have him push the banana around like a car.  It may be necessary to play first with the banana inside of the peel. While he is playing say something like, “Oh, we are going to open the doors (of the car),” and slowly pull back some of the peel.   The idea is to slowly make baby steps from wherever his current comfort level is with a food.  If Milo gags briefly, calmly and reassuringly say, “You’re ok,” and continue with play if he is able to.  If there is a lot of gagging, calmly remove the food and don’t make a big of a deal out of the gagging.  You may say, “You’re ok”, again and change the activity if need be. (Click here for more info on playing with food.)
  • Use spreads to increase the variety of foods and his caloric intake on what ever foods you can.  Spread thin if you need to so the texture isn’t overwhelming or alternate a plain piece and a piece of food with spread on it.
  • Try to make as much food as possible and slowly transition away from store bought baby food. Jarred food doesn’t compare in terms of texture and taste. Also, try slowly making foods thicker and with seasonings. Most table foods can go into a food processor. As he tolerates thicker foods try giving him small pieces of those foods individually. Think spaghetti, meatloaf/potatoes/veggie, and polenta/fish/veggie for meal ideas. (Click here for more first table food ideas.) 
  • If he allows you, place very small pieces of new or non-preferred foods into his mouth shortly after he finishes chewing a bite of something he really likes. Slowly, increase size and frequency of the new food.
  • Remember to stay consistent, keep mealtimes positive, and be patient. Eating is a skill just like any other milestone in their development. It takes time.
Milo with messy hands and face after eating. And, drinking from his straw cup !
Great job Milo and Amanda!

Okay, I am going to have to stop there, this post is getting really long! I hope this gives you ideas for some of the challenges you may be having with your own child.

Amanda reported that the consult was extremely helpful and shared some great feedback, “  It was nice to have someone certified watch him eat and give me suggestions vs. me just grasping at different ideas (your blog is also very helpful with this). The written summary was great, very detailed…”  I am looking forward to hearing how Milo is doing and will share updates on his progress on facebook.

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