Have you ever wondered how a professional becomes a professional? Yes, they may go to school. And yes, they probably go to continuing education courses. But the real skills come with real-life experiences. As a speech therapist for over 10 years, I have had some wonderful patients who taught me a lot! In addition, I have my 3 precious children who taught me quite a bit as well. As babies, they all 3 had reflux. Feeding time was pretty much the most hated time in my house when they were infants. As they got older, feeding was easier. However, Mason’s feeding issues remained.
Mason would survive on milk alone if I let him. It wasn’t easy, but I quickly learned I had to withhold the milk to force him to eat table foods. To this day, I can’t let him drink his milk before eating his dinner. I also noticed he did not eat any meat. Chicken nuggets were even rare for him to eat without maximum cues and bribing. How did I change that?
First of all, we drastically cut down on his snacking between meals. As a result of this, he was more hungry at meals. We never forced him to eat any foods. We decided what went on his plate and when he ate (that is a parent’s responsibility). We let him decide how much he ate and which items he ate (the child’s responsibility). When he was done eating, we made him kiss the meat on his plate at every meal before he could leave the table. Once he was comfortable with that, we moved to him taking a bite and spitting it out. Eventually, we built up to him eating a nugget with maximum verbal cues AND withholding his milk until he ate the nugget. Here is the kicker…he then learned to ride a bike without training wheels. He built up a lot of upper body strength (core support) and now he eats all 6 nuggets from Chick-Fil-A without any reminders! He even chooses them over his french fries. What does core support have to do with chewing? Hint: It has everything to do with chewing!
Without core support, the mouth muscles are weak. Chewing exhausts our tiny humans without enough core support. Drinking milk…not so exhausting. Children will take the path of least resistance. So do not underestimate the need for physical exercise if your child is refusing to chew solid foods. This can build their endurance for chewing in the long run.
Do you think this happened over night? Absolutely note. We have been working for over 6 months to increase his food intake of meats. Just the other day, he hit the 40 pound mark! We have been working on hitting 40 pounds for a year and a half! 🙂
As a speech pathologist that specializes in feeding therapy, I encourage families to stick with a solid meal/snack schedule. As a mom, I encourage you to stick with listening to your child. Remember, your responsibility is to decide what they are given and when. Their responsibility is to decide which of those items they eat and how much they eat.
If you have any questinos about your child’s feeding skills, call or email for a free consultation.