Help me think around this...
Help me think around this...
One possible thought is that she is entering a brand new developmental phase, where basically everything does have to be re-worked again. At two, there is all that renegotiating around control--potty learning, eating, sleeping. Could you say a little more about the routines of feeding? You mentioned that it only happens when you are feeding her. Since she is almost two, I am curious to know what this looks like. Many almost two's are eating mostly independently, so perhaps you are doing some attachment based interventions around feeding? Just trying to understand better what's part of it!
I let her feed herself finger foods, things she can manage on a spoon or fork... etc...
I mainly feed her only things like soup, or things that might make a mess. But I DO probably spoon feed her more at this age than any other child because I think it might be good for her to know that I am the mama and food comes from me and to make eye contact and such. I just think being a baby a tad longer... or with out any insistance from me is probably the best thing for her.
Honestly today I got to thinking the same thing about growth spurts... new developmental phases... she has taken off in the last 3 or so days verbally. She said to me tonight, "Mom. When dad come back?" (he is visiting his parents and helping them move.) and is rattling off all these long statements I have yet to figure out what she is saying. When I rocked and sang to her tonight before bed she sang nearly all of the two songs I usually sing to her and said almost all the words to "pat-a-cake".
I do think there has got to be some connection to the fact that it was a year ago the end of October that we went to bring her home...
I don't think it is a sensory issue at all... mainly because she had it a year ago... (I wondered if it was then based upon texture or sensory issues)... then it went away quite suddenly... was gone for about 9 months and then reappeared. She has never held food in the last 9 months.
If it happens again: If you go with the thinking that it is related somehow to anniversary issues and/or anxiety, along with developmental pushes, I wonder what would happen if you verbally gave her 'permission' to hold onto her food as long as she needs to so she feels safe that she has "enough" and that you will love her through it, however long it might last. So if she was allowed to do it with your 'blessings' perhaps she would then lose the need or compulsion to do it. Just thinking out loud!
I literally just finished listening to a webinar about feeding children with difficult issues who were adopted. If I had to summarize the hour-long presentation in to one sentence, it would be to let the child decide how to eat. The presenter talked a lot about avoiding power struggles that some parents fall into when they try to correct a child's feeding behavior or set limits.
From my own experience, I agree. It sounds like your little one has been with you about a year and a half. That's a very short time, as you know. I would guess your child had some past food insecurity before coming to you.
I've also experienced a child with a difficult past who showed it with feeding issues. At one point he was diagnosed with oral feeding aversion, and the term infantile anorexia was also thrown out there (which scared the crap out of me). My son is almost 5 years old, and he joined our family when he was almost 3. We could tell immediately there was a malnutrition issue, because he threw huge, self-injurious tantrums if his sippy cup was not full of whole milk or was out of his hand. I read tips online about how to handle food insecurity and did everything I could, such as keeping good in sight at all times and always keeping his cup full so he could learn he would never be hungry at our house. For the first month or more, he binged and purged. He ate more than the adults fist by fist, then he'd stick his finger down his throat and vomit profusely. Good times. For the next year, he survived on his sippy cup of whole milk. We rejoiced if he ate a single piece of popcorn or a Dorito in a week. We kept bringing him to the table for meals and snacks. Now, after almost two years with us, he eats at least two meals and a snack almost every day. The quantity of food he takes in is low and the variety is poor, but he has come so far. He gradually got to the point that he doesn't always have to have his sippy cup even in the room anymore, and sometimes he'll accept juice or even water. All throughout this, I searched and searched for help. Pediatricians, neurologists, dietitians, nurses, an occupational therapist, mental health workers — all were perplexed, would try to throw out a tip or two we had already tried, and basically said to keep doing what we were doing because we were at least moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go, but I'm glad we decided to take it slowly and let him take the lead. While holding food in his mouth isn't one of his behaviors, he does still have many food behaviors that could be perceived as problematic. Now that we can see he needs time and to be in charge of how he eats, we're going to continue to give him that. It sure is hard though!
I guess my bottom line advice would be to let her hold the food. She must need to do this right now. My son reverts in his behaviors when he's learning something new or when there is extra stress in the house (i.e., almost always). As annoying, disturbing and even disgusting as it might be to us adults, it might bring her a small bit of comfort to know that food is there. The expert on the webinar said that for children like ours, feeding the heart is more important right now than feeding the body.
I just want to add that kids can thrive on amazingly limited diets. My YoungSon really ate nothing but popcorn, milk, Reese's candy, and gummi vitamins from the time he was weaned until he was around 7. Then, after a minor choking incident, he but himself on a clear liquid diet: strained homemade broth and apple juice. He was thin but entirely healthy. No therapy, nagging, or intervention had any impact. One day, he suddenly ate a meal, and that was the end of that chapter. Today, he is 16, 6 feet tall, still thin but ridiculously healthy. And he still loves popcorn, but eats a full, normal diet.
I don't know if this would be an issue with your daughter, but with our older adopted child she was literally starving when we got her (at age 6 she weighed 23 pounds). She used to keep food in her mouth to "store" it. We started leaving food in her room, making sure she always had something to eat in her pocket, etc. Knowing she had something to eat if she wanted it let her eat normally during meals. She likes to walk around with a granola bar in her hand although she rarely eats it.
It has been some time, but wanted to let you all know that she rarely does it any more, but will bring it out again when she seems emotionally upset or around "anniversaries". It has worked to ignore it or treat it matter of factly and to give her the option to spit it out. Some of it seems sort of related to not liking what she is given or to the texure, but then other times she eats that item with out problem.