Please help me mamas, this issue is making me feel ANGRY & RESENTFUL & MANIPULATED - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 04-24-2005, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, sorry for the caps in the title, but this is something I really didn't think we would STILL be dealing with at almost age 3.5.

First some backround, and please, if you don't agree with what I did when ds was a young toddler, refrain from saying so. Unless you have a spirited child *with* feeding issues, it might be hard to understand.

OK, like I said, ds1 is high-needs and very sensitive. Always has been. He also had severe reflux as a baby and a frenulum that was too tight (was surgically corrected at age 20 months). Because of his temperment, the pain caused by reflux and his physical problem in his mouth, solids (and food in general even before solids were started) took forever to introduce. Really, he didn't eat much in the way of them until 17 months. And even then it was almost like he would happily starve. It was impossible to get him to eat enough to maintain his weight. The *only* way I could get him to eat anything was to bring toys to his highchair and play/distract him while I shoveled the food in.

Yes, I know what you are thinking, that doing what I just described is bad and evil, but unless you've ever had a child (not a baby!) who refused to eat, it is hard to understand. That is what I *had* to do. It was almost like he lacked the ability to self-regulate or something. Very strange.

Anyway, this continued until around age 2, when he FINALLY started seeming interested in food, telling me he was hungry, etc. But, because of what I had done in the past with toys at the table, etc, he insisted that I feed him. I obliged, after all he was my only child, I had the time and I figured this would be a short lived thing and that eventually he would want to feed himself.

Fast forward to now, almost age 3.5, and we are still feeding him his meals. Yes, if there are finger foods on his plate he will feed himself those and he'll eat snacks of finger foods by himself, but anything requiring a fork and spoon, we have to do.

Now, if he were a 'normal' kid, I might have pressed the issue a while back, but he is *extremely* sensitive and is an *extreme*, and I mean EXTREME perfectionist, and he gets very very upset when he tries to feed himself and he makes a mess. This is despite all my efforts to ignore the mess, tell him that it's OK and I will clean it, tell him that practice makes perfect, blah blah blah. When I mention feeding himself, I can tell he gets very nervous. And of course, since he has little practice, he is very sloppy, moreso than other children his age.

So, just continue feeding him, you say?

Well, there are two problems with that.

One is that I have an 11 month old as well who needs to be fed. It's hard enough to feed two children without mixing up spoons, bites, and food, but forget about me being able to eat as well. Dh is a physician and works long hours, so I am the one responsible for all three meals 5 days a week and 2-4 weekends a month, so it's not like dh could feed one and I feed one.

The second problem is really what is driving me batty and making me resentful. Because ds1 has nothing to do at the dinner table other than chew and swallow (I did put an end to the toys at the table a while back), he gets very restless and starts misbehaving. Things like standing, yes standing, on the dinner table. Constantly running back and forth between the living room and the table. Crawling under the table.

He was pulling that crap tonight when dh was home and feeding him while I was feeding ds2. We both were getting very annoyed. Over and over we asked him to stay in his chair and told him that if he wanted daddy to feed him he needed to sit still so that daddy could feed him. Finally, dh refused to feed him anymore, and ds began to wail and dinner ended in disaster.

So what am I supposed to do? This is seriously becoming a huge issue for us. I am trying to be respectful of his sensitivies, but it seems like he won't even try to work with us (as in, we will feed you but you must stay in your chair). I really don't think that is too much to ask out of a 3 year old. And honestly, if he just would feed himself, I wouldn't care (to some extent) if he got down out of his chair and took the meal at his own pace.

Also, he LOVES to feed his brother and pitches a huge fit if I suggest he feed himself instead.

My dh has suggested that I draw the line starting tomorrow by refusing to feed him and providing him with a wet towel that he can clean himself up with during the meal.

I just don't know what the right thing to do is . The few times I have gotten really aggrevated with him and 'made' him feed himself ( : I shouldn't have done that, I know), it has been so pitiful to watch. He struggles so badly and gets so frustrated with himself.

*Sigh* I think maybe I overanalyze things, but man, parenting sure is hard.

ETA: OMGosh, I just looked at this and I swear I didn't mean to write a novel. I have been mentally composing this post all day, so it didn't take long to type and therefore I didn't know it was this long. Thanks for reading!

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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#2 of 29 Old 04-24-2005, 11:41 PM
 
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well im no expert at all but heres my 2 cents
1st does DS 1 have any buddies about his age? as in peer pressure so to speak. lke "oh look at Billy feeding himself!! wow isnt that awesome ds1"
2. i defintly think have a wet cloth near by will help with the being dirty, my oldest MUSt have a napkin when he eats so he doesnt get dirty.
3. what kind of foods are you feeding him? obviously spagettit wont go over well in terms of cleanliness lol
4. i saw you say hes high needs but not special needs right? so when he starts acting up imo id let him go play whatever.
again im no expert at all but i do have a 3.5 year old and there are days when he will barely eat breakfast and thats it all day. he gets drinks and maybe an apple. i just go with the flow and try to make his favorite meal the next day (so i bribe him lol)
hugs mama its tough i hope you get many more responses!!
oh and p.s. while the post was long it wasnt a long read ya kwim? so dont feel bad!
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#3 of 29 Old 04-24-2005, 11:58 PM
 
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First off toys at the table is not anything bad, nor is feeding him. YOu did what worked best for your child. The way you made it sound, I thought it was going to be something awful. That sounds fine to me

Second why not let him feed DS2 first while you eat. Finish DS2 If he does not get enough Then feed DS1. I only say this because you never mentioned when you eat. Or switch that arond, which works better.

Alternate things...like one night make food you only eat with your hands. And then another night experiment with rubber banded chopsticks. Change it up. Find a way he likes to eat. Something that works with him.

Let him go get special utensils and plates that he picks out.

Could you be silly and play games. Like tonight I am going to feed you with my toes! Or you could try to use the fork. Or something. I am tired or my solutions would be more creative.

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#4 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:00 AM
 
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my suggestion is to get an eval done by an occupational therapist. an OT can help your son learn self-help skills that he is lacking, and honestly, it sounds to me like he may have a touch of sensory integration dysfunction. you say that the 3 things that caused a delay in intro of solids are reflux, tongue tie, and "his temperment". well, those sensitivities may be SID related. of course, since pretty much figuring out that my 3yo ds has it, (and looking back and wishing i had had internet when my 10 yo was a baby, cuz man, does he ever have it, and now i dont know if OT will help), i see "sensory issues" in every one, so take this with the proverbial grain of salt. (my now 10 yo ds did not get going on real solids until about 18 mos. had a ped accuse me of neglect. my 3yo cries for food ALL. DAY. LONG. 5 min after a high protein snack, he's whining..."i'm huuuuunnnnngggg-eeeeeee!" one avoided the sensory input, the other craves constant stim in his mouth, but is not satisfied mouthing a safe non-food item. )

and i wanted to add that i would not flame you for the feeding method you used in the past. it's scary to have a toddler who would go without food for days if allowed to. but while you're figuring this out, be kind to the little man, and come here to vent all you need to.

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#5 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, just to clarify, ds is not special needs. He is very bright and his hands and fingers work perfectly. So good in fact, he can feed his brother just fine.

eta: blessedwithboys, we must have cross-posted. Yes, there are times I am convinced that ds has a mild case of SID, other times not at all, but most of the time I think he is just on the very very sensitive end of the normal range--if there is such a thing. Actually, sometimes I think I may have mild SID, so I suppose it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for ds to have it.

As far as the OT goes, it's not that he doesn't know how to feed himself. I am 100% positive that if he would 'just do it' for a day or two, he would quickly get the hang of it. Like I said, he does pretty good when feeding his brother (because he isn't worrying about it, stressing over it and focusing on it), so I know it isn't a motor skills thing.

My plan for tomorrow is to load up the spoon for him and then let him actually put it in his mouth. That way, he's doing part of the feeding and hopefully it will be enough to keep him from getting too distracted and restless AND help him practice.

Well, off to bed...

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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#6 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:06 AM
 
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Could there maybe b some sensory issues?

I would start pushing the issue BUT go slow and have him feed himself easy foods. Stuff that sticks to the spoon or stuff pretty easy to spear with a fork. Large beans work well for forks. Also peices of banana and apple cut up. make it a game. maybe even have some sort of prize for when he hits the target enough times. For a spoon, thick oatmeal, chopped speghetti, mashed potatoes and the like. be there for him to help him clean up and all but insist that he try to feed himself and refuse to do it for him. I wouldn't push it for the whole mea though. Start small with making him take 2 or 3 bites by himself and then each meal add a few more. after he cooperates for the number of bites you decide on finish the meal by feeding him to make sure he gets full. Make sure he has the tools he neds to be successfull. perhaps an ergnomic toddler spoon, ledged nd suctioned bowl, all those things you would normally use for a toddler. He has to start from the beginning. be patient and go slow and reward cooperation.

and for the record, my almost 5 year old still has a hard time and she has insisted on feeding herself with silverware since she was about 6 months old. So she has had all the practice in the world and still has trouble with somethings as far as self feeding goes. Also if he has perfectionist tendencies that is probably playing into it more than anything else. So you didn't wreck him. you fed him. you did what you had to do to get food into him. we all do what we have to do to keep our kids healthy a zillion times a day. if you had let him starve then we would have real issues

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#7 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:15 AM
 
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First of all s !
Have you thought of moving to all finger foods for him? You could just all eat finger food adaptable meals for a few days, then announce that you'd be having soup (or something) the next meal and that he would need to feed himself and if he didn't want to he could have such and such finger foods again. Would that work for him?
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#8 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First off toys at the table is not anything bad, nor is feeding him. YOu did what worked best for your child. The way you made it sound, I thought it was going to be something awful. That sounds fine to me
Thank you for understanding!

It's just that I have seen responses in other threads where people have been slammed for doing what I did. I have seen it said that it is disrespectful to the child, even, to distract them to get them to eat. That if they are hungry, they will eventually eat. That they won't develop a sense of hunger/fullness if they are forced or tricked into eating.

And some of that I agree with in NORMAL children without feeding issues, but my son wasn't/isn't 'normal' when it comes to feeding and I did what I felt was best for him and what I had to do.

OK, off soapbox now and truly off to bed.

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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#9 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:25 AM
 
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I second or third the OT idea. OT is very non-invasive and could be a big help. They give you a lot of ideas to try at home and most kids like going.

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#10 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 01:31 AM
 
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look, what is done is done.

would I recommend what you did re feeding. No. But you did your best.

Now is the time to bring in professionals.

You can talk to your ped about this, but if you are not satisfied with that I would look to an OT for help as pp's suggested. Even if he does not have clear sensory issues, there is clearly a short term problem that needs to be "gotten over."

Having a "program" to be followed, which an OT will help set up will take this out of the "discipline" camp where it does not belong and help your ds move to independance.
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#11 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 01:41 AM
 
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I have a 3 1/2 year old who also had some feeding issues, but can feed himself just fine. However, he wants us to feed him about half the time ( or more). It's got worse since his now 10-month-old brother arrived. He's had lots of practice and is pretty normal in that department, but is also a perfectionist. He doesn't like to be messy. So I commiserate, but I also don't think it's that big a deal. We usually feed him when he requests it unless it is very inconvenient, because it helps meet some of his dependency needs. He gets jealous about us feeding his little brother. We don't however allow rude/wild behavior at the table. If he runs off to play that's fine, but we won't keep feeding him if his behavior is annoying us. So all this to say, I don't think your son's behavior is particularly abnormal.

Perhaps the bigger problem is you having to feed two little ones by yourself. I'd say you should do whatever works to get you all fed with the least fuss. Go with finger foods. My 10-month-old eats almost exclusively finger foods at this point. So I don't have to feed him most of the time. For the baby: cheerios, grape halfs, apple slices, baked tofu, egg yolks, beans and rice, avocado... For the older child: Sandwiches, quesadillas, fruit... You can easily go with nearly a whole diet of finger foods (heck in some cultures, they only use fingers). At least cut the spoon feeding down to one meal a day JMHO. Good luck, and don't worry. Your son sounds fine.
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#12 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 02:01 AM
 
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My first thought was SID. If it is SID, then trying to force it will be terrible for him - the mess will feel painful on his body. I'd seek assessment and advice from an OT before doing anything. Handling this wrong may cause distress and more problems.

How about feeding him non-messy foods for a while that he can practice the fork skills with, without making a mess? Dd was very similar in terms of mess and perfectionism - she has SID and it took a long time before she could bear having a mess on her face. She liked me to sit next to her with a napkin for a long time, just in case seh made any mess. She still hates it if something gets messy - we had to work at some therapy which really helped her.

Have you read The out of sync Child? And the Out of Sync Child has Fun - which has lots of practical suggestions.
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#13 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 04:00 AM
 
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I totally get why this must be so frustrating. And I don't think you were wrong to cajole him into eating or going along with feeding him.

I haven't read the replies, so I don't know if this is already mentioned, but the only thing I thought of while reading was to offer him finger foods at meals. Pasta with no sauce, carrots, plain chicken breast, or whatever version of what you are eating, but in neat pieces that he can pick up himself. Then if he wants other food he is welcome to it as long as he feeds himself.

We had to institute a rule that while anyone is eating, there is no climbing on the table, playing under the table, trying to ask us to read a book, etc. etc. Ds is welcome to come and go as he pleases, but he can't be disruptive to the rest of us. At some point I also ask him if he is done eating, and I remove his plate to the kitchen, so he can ask for it if he wants it. I know my ds doesn't have the same eating issues, but since your ds will tell you now if he's hungry, maybe you can try a "if you're playing you must be done" approach.

It sounds like you've done a great job in being sensitive and gentle and making sure he stays healthy.
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#14 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 09:05 AM
 
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Is this an issue of not having the actual skills honed well enough to eat neatly? If that is the case, are their games you can develop to help his skills? Maybe having an egg and spoon race in the livingroom with him with a hard boiled egg. That would help his balance as he tried to hold an egg on a spoon.

Does feeding his brother help his skills? Does he drop food when feeding him? If so, maybe you can make light of it and show him how easily it cleans up....so he does not feel bad about making the mess with his brother. Maybe that would transfer over to himself and help him to let go of his perfectionism with feeding himself.

I think 3.5 may still a bit young to be expected to sit at the dinner table. Do you have room to set up a small kids table in your dining room or kitchen....where ever you all sit? That way, he would have his own space, his own sized chair and table. Maybe then, if he wanted to come and go from the table, it wouldn't disrupt you and your dh quite so much and would give him more control over his meal. (I'm wondering if more control over things will empower him?)

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#15 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 09:52 AM
 
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i just wanted to chime in saying that sensory-defensiveness is quite common and an OT could be a big help. my friend is an OT and has told me a lot about her job, and it really sounds useful. i don't know, it might be worth investigating for your own sanity at mealtimes...
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#16 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 10:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby
...the only thing I thought of while reading was to offer him finger foods at meals...
This is EXACTLY what I was thinking.

It might be a good way to ease into self-feeding. You could also feed him things (cooked, diced carrots come to mind) that are easy to spear with a fork.

Good luck mama!
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#17 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 10:52 AM
 
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The Lucky One,

It sounds like you are trying your best to meet your child's needs. There are many very bright people with sensory issues. And, the behaviors you are describing sound like sensory issues. Speech Therapists usually work on food issues, you may want to consult one.

I would also just serve him finger foods for a while. If you let go of the utensils for a few months and then reintroduce them after he is used to eating by himself, you may have success.

It may be a good idea to give him many sensory experiences throughout the day. For example, foam paint in the bath tub, bowls of rice or oatmeal or beans, finger paint.... etc.

~Laura
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#18 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 11:05 AM
 
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I second (third?) the vote for finger foods only for a couple days. Maybe even make a game of it- like it's "no utensils" week. ALso maybe just do it for lunch an b-fast if you feel uncomfortable with that at dinner.

I also have a very sensitive kid who refuses anything that feels like an issue. So I feel that anything you can do to diffuse the tension is good.

A
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#19 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 11:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by harmonymama
I have a 3 1/2 year old who also had some feeding issues, but can feed himself just fine. However, he wants us to feed him about half the time ( or more). It's got worse since his now 10-month-old brother arrived. He's had lots of practice and is pretty normal in that department, but is also a perfectionist. He doesn't like to be messy. So I commiserate, but I also don't think it's that big a deal. We usually feed him when he requests it unless it is very inconvenient, because it helps meet some of his dependency needs. He gets jealous about us feeding his little brother. We don't however allow rude/wild behavior at the table. If he runs off to play that's fine, but we won't keep feeding him if his behavior is annoying us. So all this to say, I don't think your son's behavior is particularly abnormal.

Perhaps the bigger problem is you having to feed two little ones by yourself. I'd say you should do whatever works to get you all fed with the least fuss. Go with finger foods]...[ At least cut the spoon feeding down to one meal a day JMHO. Good luck, and don't worry. Your son sounds fine.
I have a 3 1/2 yo who VERY recently started feedind himself. No younger sibling so a little less difficult for me. The first foods he was willing to self spoon feed were his absolute favorites like mac and cheese. Even then, he would only eat about half of what he should have wanted to eat. I have been known to shovel it in while watching a video. I give him finger foods a lot. I make PB&J on Ryvita crackers because they are easier to hold. His dexterity is fine, doesn't have sensory issues. He IS slightly sensitive, doesn't like face or fingers to get sticky. I know he knows when he is hungry but if he is tired, he doesn't want to eat no matter how hungry he is unless it's a total treat food that he also hasn't had in a long time.

I like the idea someone had of letting him feed his younger sib. It will give him confidence with no pressure and will hopefully be a chance for you to eat.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#20 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:23 PM
 
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My middle child suddenlt decided one day that he did not want me to feed him, but he did not want to use utensils either. He also has never really cared about eating and would go whole days eating nothing but a piece of bread when he was two. Being one to pick my battles, and having a dd who is only 14 months youger than he is, I decided to just let him eat only finger foods. We don't really eat at the table, either (I know, we should), so he eats wherever and life is much easier because I just don't worry about it! I think as he gets older, and all of the kids are 4 and up, it will be much easier to work on these issues. Until then, I'm not going to bang my head against the wall. I do wish he ate a better variety of foods, but at least I know he got 14 months of breastmilk (up until the day dd was born), and super-healthy homemade foods with lots of flax, etc. added until he started refusing them between 18 months and two.
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#21 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 12:27 PM
 
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We all posted the same time last night.

I wanted to third fourth fifth whatever sensory isues. Sensory issus don't have to be debilitating. they are just annoying. I have sensory isues in some areas and got along just fine without so much as a diagnosis much less special help of any sort.

it is possible with his early feeding problems oral sensory issues developed. no big. ust something that might more easily be delt with with a coupld of meetings with an OT. They may have more specific ideas for ays to get over specific challeneges. Alot of my dds sensory issues are oral. She had a lot of deep suctioning and feeding tubes and was constantly overfed ni the NICU. It all came to a head as undersensitivites orally, sucking needs that can't be met and the inability to tell when she is full. with reflux and a tounge tie i would think a child couls easily develope aversians and over sensitivities.

to some extent we all have sensory issues here or threre. Most people it is just written off as quirky because that is all it is. But others people have a degree to which they are disfunctional. it inteferes with so much of thier lives they can't compensate (dd1). Others are especially blessed in this area (dd#2) but most people are right in the middle some where with quirks that they can work around. (dd#3) she has a couple of issues I have picked up on just from dealing with this but nothing I have the time or concern to deal with. s he will figure it out in her time. I would have benifited from a little help or at elast understanding but I got by OK. So it isn't a desease or a dissability (for most people) it is just when some part of your wiring gets askew and it is often caused by outside influances. My oldest dd and I were both premature and in the nicu. my third child who is pretty average had a slightly traumatic birth but was suronded by love and tenderness. my one who is esp[ecially tuned in to her world had a very gentle home birth with no problems in the following weeks, no intervention during the pregnancy and a gentle beginning to her life all around. coincedence? I have no scientific evidence but I htink there is more than a small connection.

It would make sense that since your son had such feeding issues as an infant (talking about the reflux etc - not playing with a few toys.) that some of those connections were put askew. And now they just need a little help getting over the hump and reorganizing. and that is what OT does.

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#22 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 02:35 PM
 
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If this were me, I think I would probably explore the issue with a doctor just to "cover my bases" as it were. I don't have any experience with this, so others have more expertise that I do. Asuming that doesn't reveal anything...

I also like the idea of starting where he is comfortable, with finger foods. My 2 YO is completely self-feeding, but eats most stuff with her fingers, so I know that you can get a reasonably balanced diet with just your hands. She likes everything pretty cool and I cut everything into little tiny pieces for her before she sits down. After that, she's on her own, unless she asks for help. For us, "finger foods" is anything that we are eating, cooled and cut for her. We avoid soup, and anything that has a sauce I serve as "dip" for her. If its something like stew (cooked in sauce), I cut it into small pieces and don't put too much sauce on her plate.

If mess is an issue, then wet towel might help. I would probably provide everyone with a wet towel though, so he doesn't feel like you are expecting only him to have a problem.

How is your younger child doing with solids? Would you consider moving to more finger foods/self feeding for him too? I know that both of my kids were pretty insistent at feeding themselves, starting at about 10 months. Maybe if both children were self-feeding with their fingers it would take the stress off the older one? Just a thought.

And please, don't beat yourself up about what has gone before this. You did what you needed to do at the time and no one here should secondguess that.
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#23 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! I'm back and I never dreamed I'd get so many thoughtful responses!

I'm not sure really where to start, but I think I will by saying that we've had a good day here at mealtimes. This morning, before breakfast, I explained to him that I would like to see him feeding himself more than he has been. I told him there were several reasons but mainly so he could decide what food he wants and in what order/how much/bite size/etc and also so it would be easier for me to eat my own meals. Suprisingly, he agreed that he should at least give it a try.

I made all of us oatmeal for breakfast. I allowed his to cool pretty well and then called him to the table. As I was eating and feeding ds2, I 'loaded up' ds1's spoon and asked him to put it in his mouth. He did. Over and over. He also took the spoon several times and submerged it in the oatmeal and got his own bites. He used the washcloth I gave him several times and the experience was very pleasant. Same with lunch.

I kind of feel like a fool, because if things continue they way they have been today, I don't anticipate too many more problems. I think I was just expecting too much all at once (expecting him just to be able to suddenly do *all* of the work). But that's so me. I get so caught up and worried about a situation that I can't see the forest for the trees. Kwim?

Oh shoot! Doorbell! Gotta go. More later...

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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#24 of 29 Old 04-25-2005, 04:37 PM
 
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I haven't had a chance to read the replies, but I had to respond to your OP.

What you did with the toys, feeding him, etc...that's EXACTLY what I did with DD. And she is not high-needs by any definition, nor has she ever had any eating issues (other than the usual toddler pickiness). So IMO you haven't done anything wrong.

When we moved into our current home and got a proper dining table and chairs, we decided to institute rules about eating at the table. But expecting my DD (who was 2 at the time) to sit still long enough to eat a meal was a bit unrealistic IMO. So rather than make mealtimes unpleasant for everybody, we allowed her to read books at the table, or play with some toys. This was enough to distract her while I spoon fed her. There were times when she asked to do it herself, and I let her. Mostly, I had to do it. But as time went by, more and more she asked to do it herself. She will be 3 soon, and I'd say it's about 60/40 between us feeding her, and her feeding herself. She most definitely eats more when we feed her. And yes, I still let her read at the table, or play with a limited selection of toys. Why not? It makes mealtimes pleasant for everybody.

Do I think she'll still need to be spoonfed and read at the table when she is 10? no, lol.

I do understand that your problem is with having two kids to spoon feed. I'm sure it is driving you crazy. There have definitely been days when I'm trying to nurse DS and feed DD and I wish she could just eat herself all the time. But you know....if I try even once to force the issue, I've ruined it. As it is right now, she considers feeding herself a bit of a treat. More and more that's what she wants. So I'm just going with it. Because I'm confident that she will eventually not need or want me to do it at all, and I'm confident that if I push the issue, we can kiss our peaceful mealtimes goodbye.

I'm not sure if this helps you, but I wanted you to know you haven't done anything wrong, and no, I do not think it is too unrealistic for a 3.5 year old to want some interaction like that with you, especially if the issue has become a "hot" one. Personally, I'd let him play with whatever he wants at the table. But that's JMHO.

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#25 of 29 Old 04-26-2005, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by The Lucky One
Because ds1 has nothing to do at the dinner table other than chew and swallow he gets very restless and starts misbehaving.
I received lots of very good advice on this forum on how to improve the atmosphere at the house during meals. So here goes:
- play restaurant: Write/draw together with ds1 the menu of the evening. Then stick it on the kitchen door and ask him to "play client" so he has to knock at the kitchen door, pick his table..... while you play the waiter. This is a big success with my daughters. It is true it takes some time, but it's worth it. It will be more fun when dc2 is in the picture but you may find ways of involving him.
- involve ds1 in dinner preparation. This also takes sooo much time but it leads to them eating a whole lot more - both during preparation and at meal time
- have nice and funny conversation at lunch/dinner time. This does have to involve bringing toys to the dinner table. Stories are nice too. And they can be invented stories, that ds1 can complete...
- have a frank discussion about lunch/dinner with ds1. Not at lunch time. At a time as far from lunch or dinner as possible. Just ask him to give you his ideas about how you can all eat happily together.
I know lunch/dinner time can be very stressful, especially with two closely spaced kids. Does ds1 like drawing? My dd1 (4) loves drawing, so many times if she's done eating she will just lay on the floor and draw...
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#26 of 29 Old 04-27-2005, 12:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by The Lucky One
Wow! I'm back and I never dreamed I'd get so many thoughtful responses!

I'm not sure really where to start, but I think I will by saying that we've had a good day here at mealtimes. This morning, before breakfast, I explained to him that I would like to see him feeding himself more than he has been. I told him there were several reasons but mainly so he could decide what food he wants and in what order/how much/bite size/etc and also so it would be easier for me to eat my own meals. Suprisingly, he agreed that he should at least give it a try.

I made all of us oatmeal for breakfast. I allowed his to cool pretty well and then called him to the table. As I was eating and feeding ds2, I 'loaded up' ds1's spoon and asked him to put it in his mouth. He did. Over and over. He also took the spoon several times and submerged it in the oatmeal and got his own bites. He used the washcloth I gave him several times and the experience was very pleasant. Same with lunch.

I kind of feel like a fool, because if things continue they way they have been today, I don't anticipate too many more problems. I think I was just expecting too much all at once (expecting him just to be able to suddenly do *all* of the work). But that's so me. I get so caught up and worried about a situation that I can't see the forest for the trees. Kwim?

Oh shoot! Doorbell! Gotta go. More later...

Hi, I just had to reply because my DS is the same way. He's almost four and I still feed him myself alot of the time. Not because he can't (he feeds himself at preschool ) but because I don't want spaghetti stains on my carpet. : So, in my case I'm the source of the problem but he also had issues with getting food on his hands too. Lately I've noticed he definately is better behaved at meal times when he is feeding himself (I think they're just bored sitting there with idle hands). So, every day I say to myself that I'm not going to do it but everyday he says "mommy will you help me" and I just have a hard time saying no. Right now though I make sure he does at least half the meal himself.
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#27 of 29 Old 04-27-2005, 02:16 AM
 
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I learned in my pediatric nutrition class that children have developmental windows for eating. For example: it's important not to wait too long to introduce food (around 6-9 months) and introduce finger foods around 9-10 months. My teacher explained that if these activities are introduced too late then it can be hard for kids to be interested in food at all, or in feeding themselves. Perhaps your son's challenges with eating now are somehow related to missing developmental windows when he was younger and having trouble with feeding. Not that this information is particularly helpful to you now.

With my son, we introduced food around 6-7 months, but for a long time we would only spoonfeed him. Then I read somewhere that above all else it is important to make eating fun for them. At such a young age it's about experimenting not nourishment (which they get from breastmilk ideally.) So we sucked it up and let him feed himself. He made such a mess, but it was suprising how much he got in his mouth.

I'm sorry you've had such a hard time with feeding. I'm with the others on the finger food suggestion. And it definately couldn't hurt to see an OT, they may have some great suggestions. It sounds like you've been doing an amazing job dealing with such a difficult situation. Good luck!
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#28 of 29 Old 04-27-2005, 04:09 AM
 
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I didn't read all of the responses yet, but just wanted to give ya a (((hug))) because boy do I know those days. My ds is spirited as well, and very sensitive to change as well. I went thru exactly what you are going thru and felt so resentful too. In fact, I was feeding the kid up until he was just about 4...I had to feed him, his 2yo sis and nurse a baby at the same time, I was going batty. Finally, I couldn't do it anymore and dh started to work with him. Dh stayed patient and found out the reason he didn't want to feed himself was because he was scared of spilling food on himself (he's always been a perfectionist and has always hated getting any bit of dirt/crumbs on himself). Dh was so patient and worked to help him learn to do it (he's always had the skill, he just refused to do it himself). Finally, what worked the best was that dh took him out to buy a special plate set and special silverware just for him, but the only condition with using it was that he do it himself. That was enough for him to want to do it, and he's been feeding himself ever since. Looking back on it, I see that even though he had hang-ups about getting messy, me feeding him was also a nurturing thing and so I tried not to just cut him off. Once his baby brother was born, he someone understood that he was the big boy and mama had other responsibilities and that he'd have to start being a lil more independent.

It is so hard having a child be so needy at times, especially when they're old enough where you feel they should be able to do things themselves. I hope your guy will learn to start doing the feeding himself...I know once my guy did, he was so proud of himself and it was so great to see his self esteem soar. Hang in there mama
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#29 of 29 Old 04-27-2005, 04:01 PM
 
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Sorry I didn't have a chance to read all the responses but it looks like you got a lot of good ones.

I just spoke with an occupational therapist about a child I know with feeding issues. Basically she said to de-sensitize the mouth, cheeks, etc. before eating with a toothbrush, massage or just plain old touching. The original source of irritation for the child can become very psychologically ingrained and continue feeding problems.

The child I was asking about drank all food from a bottle until 3 years old, and now at 5 is still fed by the parents much of the time. it has been very frustrating for them and I know they do not get a lot of understanding from people who don't know the situation. They are often judged by people and it can cause a lot of stress! I don't think it is so much manipulation from the child, but fear and pain that just feeds on itself in the child. never underestimate the power of the mind; the occupational therapist i spoke with said kids can react by just seeing a trigger across the room, causing the child to gag or vomit!
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