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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First post here, hi mamas!

My LO is 18 months and screams and cries when we put her in the high chair. She turns her head and bats the spoon away. She holds the puree'ed food in her mouth and refuses to swallow it. Once in a blue moon she will eat without fussing, as much as a whole jar of Stage 2 baby food at a sitting, so we know she CAN manipulate food, swallow normally, &c.

She is about 15 pounds, so, ped is worried. Have referred us to OT but therapist simply says to keep offering, keep trying, & not get visibly upset. Not very helpful.

I EP'ed for 15 months then dried up so LO takes bottles of cow milk in between the solids meals. We do purees since she cannot handle textures and will not self feed any finger foods (OT recommended many, have tried them all). It's pretty well force feeding with the spoon at this point, while she screams and tries to get out of the high chair. Ped is not comfortable letting us back off & go back to something like formula only at this point.

Suggestions? How to reverse a bad association w/ solids? Have tried DVDs during feeding, different places to feed, feeding in lap, while crawling, you name it. Am open to any suggestions that do not involve stopping the spoon feeding because ped and OT both said don't do that because weight is in danger. Anything else we can do? I hate mealtimes now! They are so miserable!


ETA: LO has two OT teams and both say that we need to push through the defensiveness of her texture and oral aversions (had a feeding tube at birth) and that a critical window for solids acceptance is about to close for her. I understand that we need to push the spoon feeding because of this. My main question I think is: how can we make feeding fun for her? Or get back to a place of food acceptance?
 

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My feeding therapist would not have recommended pushing the spoon feeding. Her top priority for kids who have negative associations with food was to get them to accept the food. Any food. Oreos. Yup. When you are closing in on the crisis stage that is the first thing, according to our therapist.

She did recommend sitting at the table, even for a minute. I'm not so sure that I needed that, but I let dd eat what she wanted, when she wanted it. No restrictions on any food you keep in your home. Let her approach food in her own way. Does that mean she's going to eat ice cream all day? Probably for a while. But you could do worse, and it would pack on some pounds.

ETA: I think pushing the spoon feeding *slightly* would be OK for the average cautious eater. But neither of my girls were the average cautious eater. My first (the one we sought therapy for) hadn't learned to associate food with satiation until she was four years old. The other, a great eater as a babe and toddler, became my picky eater, super sensitive to any sensory violation and is still that way. Oldest is picky-ish but adventurous in her own way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your reply. She will not self feed at all. When they told us to wait her out & wait for hunger signals, she woke up after sleeping through the night and would not eat any of the food I put in front of her all day (at the table, on the floor, on my plate) until she finally melted down out of hunger at 4:00 p.m. and I gave her a bottle. We have tried cookies, ice cream, chocolate chips, she will simply not willingly put things into her mouth.

She was rejected from early intervention services because once out of every 5-6 meals she accepts the spoon and eats, so they say it is an emotional thing and not a physiological thing.
 

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What does she eat? What will she take almost no matter what? Is there anything? I disagree that there will be a "window". I'm not a doctor, but I think that if she accepts a bottle, for example, give her the bottle if that's what she wants.

It's good that she recognizes hunger signals, though she is capable of ignoring them (picky eaters are good at ignoring hunger signals!) so you don't have that battle to fight.
 

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Will she play with the food? If so I would put her in the high chairaand give her food to just play with at times without pushing for her to eat it. Pudding is great for this. Giving her markers and papers can also make the high chair a fun place plus she'll look.cute covered in marker. If she's exploring things by picking them up and feeling them orally I'd give her teething biscuits, those baby apple rings and miniature cracker type things from the baby isle by just leaving them on a surface she can reach and seeing what she does.
 

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Will she play with the food? If so I would put her in the high chairaand give her food to just play with at times without pushing for her to eat it. Pudding is great for this. Giving her markers and papers can also make the high chair a fun place plus she'll look.cute covered in marker. If she's exploring things by picking them up and feeling them orally I'd give her teething biscuits, those baby apple rings and miniature cracker type things from the baby isle by just leaving them on a surface she can reach and seeing what she does.
Make sure she knows there is zero pressure to eat this stuff. While she is exploring, her sustenance should be elsewhere, otherwise she might reject this.
 

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If you haven't already I also suggest trying non traditional foods she can hold and gum while having her watch you eat dinner. Then move to feeding her afterwards. Bacon, brocilli, hard bread given whole not in pieces, and cheerios were my dd's first foods but aren't typically recommended as finger food. I would actually avoid giving it as finger food to see if that helps, I has a couple one year old infants in my class who would only eat whole pieces of food that looked like what the teachers were eating.
 

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So sorry to hear about your troubles. That sounds tough! I'll be following along. My DD (17 months old) is at this point still almost exclusively breastfed, and has many food aversions (and a couple of allergies as well).
 

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I would look for a second ped's opinion. Your therapist said to keep *offering and not get upset.
I have no exprerience with formerly tube-fed babies, but I can understand why your bb hates food.
I would start screaming too if someone strapped me in a chair and pushed stuff down my throat.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you so much, mamas. It is SUCH a relief to know that other people are out there listening.

I wish I hadn't dried up. Ped said to give her no more than 15 oz of whole milk in bottles a day, which I guess is standard advice for an 18 month old. I would feel much better about all this if I still had breastmilk to give her. I pumped every 2 hours for 15 months and took dom. and then my body quit on me. :(

Now she has started holding food in her mouth. We spoon feed her, she holds the food in her mouth and just sits there and cries. The food dribbles out. She will hold food in her mouth and not swallow for 30-40 minutes, wailing the whole time. It is breaking my heart.

Ped says don't give her more bottles. Ped also says she is dangerously underweight. Nutritionist says go right to table foods if she hates being spoon fed, and yet LO refuses to self feed. I let her play with everything and she plays and plays in the high chair, but nothing goes in her mouth. Ever. OT therapist says PUSH the spoon feeding or else she will never learn how to chew and will be on a feeding tube at age 5. That scares me to death.

Help! How do I make her eat? Or be curious about putting things into her mouth? Or not hate the high chair? How do I force her to swallow the food in her mouth? She NEEDS to take in more calories but she absolutely refuses to eat solids. I get so angry when she spits her food out or refuses to swallow it. I am so scared.
 

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I disagree with no more bottles, and personally I would put her on formula, if she would take it, simply so that it would match the calorie intake of breast milk.

"Never learn to chew and be on a feeding tube at 5". Does the OT have clinical cases of this happening? The OT has determined with absolute assurance that her mouth is able to process the solid food easily? That her tongue and swallowing mechanisms won't get confused?

I would seriously find other health care providers at this point. When a child is underweight, if she loves something you do not limit it!!! You let her eat it to her heart's content. You keep letting her play with something on her tray.

The only time I knew of a child with a feeding tube who didn't eat food at all, except breastmilk, was one who had had a kidney transplant. (She's 11 now, and I can assure you, she chews!) I'm not saying your HCPs aren't right at all, I just seriously question their doom-and-gloom predictions. I question it enough to find new professionals that might have good advice but not the terrify-momma-hardline approach.

There are no hard lines. Feed your child what she wants to be fed, as much as she wants of it, and find new help. Hopefully help that will work with your child, not against her.
 
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I mean, I just don't get this: limit a food that an *underweight* child will eat while forcing her to eat what she doesn't want to eat and then scare the momma that *OMG Your Child Is Underweight!!!!!" Refusing to offer a child food that is in the house and having her drop weight while you can battle a refusal to put solids in her mouth? Essentially, starve the child and torture her with a spoon.

I think these people should babysit your daughter for a week while you sit by and give them advice and see if they don't realize that it's the most nonsensical advice on the planet (if the don't strangle you first).
 
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YES! I WISH they would babysit her and see how it s!!! She will sit in the OT office and eat when the OT feeds her, so they don't see how she is at home. She absolutely refuses. Holds food in her mouth and screams.

I believe it when they say it is me. She eats for them without any problem at all. :(

She is below the 0 percentile and has classic underweight symptoms - big head, tiny stick legs and arms, not hitting developmental milestones. She also has a team of developmental OT thearpists but was rejected from early intervention because she's not 50% behind. All the specialists say that she can't be on only bottles anymore and needs solids to grow and catch up. I don't know where I would even find other doctors, these are the only specialist teams in our town/insurance.

She eats nicely for my mother also (who lives out of town). This must be me. How do I break the negative dynamic we've got with each other & get back to spoonfeeding? I am wracked with guilt.
 

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"She needs solids to grow." The age old myth that leads parents to put rice cereal and baby food in bottles. Breast milk and formula have more calories than most solid foods per serving, except the fatty ones.
 

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Stop the battles at home and maybe she will eat for you. They should try force feeding the spoon to your daughter for a while and see how long that willingness lasts.

ETA: Sarcasm. Not really!
 

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I disagree with the formula thing too. There is formula for toddlers and some pediatricians recommend it for the first two years of life. I strongly suggest getting a different pediatrician. If your baby is malnourished fixing that is priority number one, it's what your instincts are telling you and I suggest you go with them.

It sounds like there are some negative associations going on when you feed her and breaking out of that habit is what I would focus on. I think you may have better success if you give bottles of formula for a month and back off of trying to feed her, still put the food on her tray but don't push at all. When you eat give her a bowl and spoon of her own and table food but don't feed her yourself. After that slowly try offering.

I also don't believe that your child will be on a feeding tube if you aren't able to push through this. She eats when others feed her and she will probably slowly eat more, not less, especially if you are able to change this cycle.
 

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I disagree with the formula thing too. There is formula for toddlers and some pediatricians recommend it for the first two years of life. I strongly suggest getting a different pediatrician. If your baby is malnourished fixing that is priority number one, it's what your instincts are telling you and I suggest you go with them.
I'm guessing you meant to "agree" with my formula suggestion? And "disagree" with the doctor?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
LO won't take formula. Or pediasure in milk. She hates the taste. She takes plain milk in her bottles. Rejected the vitamin drops that doc said to add to the bottles too. Maybe she's a supertaster?
 

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Very possibly. The formula suggestion is only about the amount of calories per ounce. While just whole milk isn't very balanced, I think that it is better than going without calories. I would still give bottles. The child needs calories in whatever form is palatable for her. Once my daughter had plain, sweetened soy (allergic to dairy) she wouldn't go back to soy formula, even when I tried to put her back on it when her weight dipped.
 
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