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Late talker...Late eater?

876 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  KKmama
DS will be two next month and we are still struggling to get him to eat. He didn't mouth things or even suck on his hands as a baby - it around one year that he finally would occasionally put things in his mouth. I kept waiting for him to show an interest in food, but he never did, other than liking to watch us eat and touching food on our plates but then running away if we tried to offer some to him or tell him he could have some if he wanted.

Now when he gets hungry, he'll go get his high chair and move it to the table, but when I start to get his food out he runs away and hides. It's kind of like when you look forward to your favorite uncle visiting and can hardly wait until he arrives and then when he gets there, you're really shy and don't want to go up to him (I was like that as a kid). So I get everything out and ready to go, and then I go and get him. He doesn't feed himself - I have to feed him. I put him in his chair and he throws a tantrum. Remember, he was acting hungry (aka grumpy) and got his own chair out. I have to take his chin in my hand and wait for him to put his arms down and quit screaming. Finally he does that and will open his mouth for me to put the food in. The next bite, he isn't screaming or blocking me with his arms, but I have to put my hand on his chin in order to get him to open up. After that, he opens up easily every time he's ready for a bite and seems to enjoy eating the food. We're talking this is how it goes EVERY meal.

Right now he's eating Gerber's 3rd foods. I'm adding oatmeal cereal to everything to thicken it up so he gets used to thicker foods, and I'm adding less and less water with it (if any). So for lunch I'll feed him a jar of meat mixed with a jar of vegetable with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of oatmeal flakes (Gerber) mixed in without any water. It's probably about as thick as runny mashed potatoes, at this point.

If I try to give him chunks of food, like Gerber Graduate cubed pear chunks, if I hide it in applesauce (his favorite food), he eats it just fine. If I offer them to him plain, he outright refuses. If he knows they're in the applesauce or I don't hide them with enough applesauce, he chokes and gags and will spit up breastmilk he ate 30 minutes before. The pears really aren't that soft, so maybe I should try carrots. [I hate Gerber. The spoons they sell do not have handles that are long enough to feed a baby out of their 3rd foods jars. And their "soft" chunky food is not what I would call soft. Hate Gerber. But unless food comes out of a Gerber jar, he won't eat it.]

Other parents are discussing when their child will use silverware. I would just like my child to feed himself - fingers are fine with me. He didn't eat until he was 20 months old, and we quickly progressed to Gerber 3rd foods, but we seem to be stuck here.

Now he does have a very cautious personality, like his father. MIL says she was sure she was going to have to send a diaper bag with DH to kindergarten. DH also didn't talk until very late. He was fed formula so he was given food a lot sooner (2 months according to his baby book). But ds sat, crawled and cruised all within two weeks when he was 6.5 months old. He didn't walk, though, until he was 15.5 months (same age that his daddy did). He could stand at 14 months, but at 15 months when he'd shuffle his feet and suddenly realize he'd moved, he'd quickly get down and crawl because walking wasn't "safe." He didn't learn stairs until he was 18 months and then didn't really take an interest in them until after he started eating. Before he walked, we could hold our hand an inch from where he would reach it and he would always get down and crawl to us. He never runs away from me when I set him down at the store - rather, he clings to me like velcro. He is not a risk-taker at all.

He babbles a lot and has said all of the consonants and vowels right around when Dr. Sears said he would. But he doesn't say words. My mom says he babbles far more than my sister and I ever did, but we weren't late talkers. He doesnt' seem frustrated with his ability to communicate, and like I said, DH was a late talker as well.

He acts healthy. He's busy and plays a lot. I haven't noticed any change in his energy level since he started on solids, and he gets at least 750 calories a day from solids (according to the labels on what I feed him). He loves to nurse and would just do that if it was left to him to choose. He hasn't grown much over the past year, but at his 12 month check, he was in the 95th percentile for height and weight - now he's probably in the 25th or below.

He also has terrible eczema which would be an indication of allergies, which I think contributed to his food aversion. He always gets diaper rash when he poops, even though I change him as soon as possible. We've finally got something from the doctor that seems to be clearing up the eczema, but I doubt that it will help us convince him to eat.

He is progressing, if you look at the big picture. He may be late in these areas, but he is ahead in others. Since he doesn't talk, he observes a lot and seems to be way advanced in that respect. He may have mouthed things late, but eventually he did it. He is eating now, fairly willingly once you get those few bites in his mouth. He is handling thicker foods which he couldn't handle a month ago when I tried them. I'm sure his personality and allergies have contributed to his slow development in this area. I did have a friend who is a speech therapist do an oral exam on him and she found no problems - she says he should be able to eat just fine because all of the motor skills are there. He was stuck in the sitting/crawling/cruising stage forever - I am sure he will progress from this as well.

My friend the speech therapist thinks that if he was talking, he would be eating as well. My dad argues with her and says she doesn't know Ben - everyone is always amazed at how cautious he is with everything. [My parents and my speech-therapist-friend all live in another state.] Ben is healthy and overall is growing and developing, though he makes progress more in some areas than others, then they catch up, etc. which I hear is normal.

So back to my original question...for those of you with late talkers, did you have trouble with eating as well? Or is this just a fluke and the two really don't have any connection. I am so tired of having to feed him all the time - I so wish he would feed himself, even if just with his fingers.
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I'm coming from the opposite end, but my DD took to solids at 6 months like a house afire (seriously, I was very concerned she was eating too many solids) and was also a very early talker. She will put anything in her mouth and remains an intense mouther/chewer/sucker at 17 months. I've actually wondered about a connection too, but it may not be a physical one--more temperamental.
My younger son has occupational therapy to learn to eat, and actually, from what I've been told, if you have eating problems and speech problems, you have to address the eating problems 1st (and that will help the speech and/or then you can address the speech problems).

Have you thought about looking into some kind of therapy to help him learn how to do these things? Our OT is covered by insurance (and we also had ds evaluated through our state's early intervention service, so now EI covers the co-pays). The OT has been *incredibly* helpful, and our therapist is wonderful.

Have you seen an allergist and/or a dietician? My older son had pretty bad eczema around that age, too, and it was really a concern (and hard to figure out... we finally got help from a pediatric dermatologist). If he *is* reacting to something in his diet, you need to eliminate it, and it can help to get some guidance from people who know about these things..

Good luck!
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