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Well, we're back from the appointment. Get this...Anna weight 19 lbs 2 oz!!!!! She's back in the 3rd percentile! We didn't think she'd get there for another couple of months! That was fantastic news.
She showed off for them somewhat and gobbled up all her veggies, but was true to form with everything else, so they got a sense of what I was talking about. They tried several techniques to get her to eat the things she refused, and she didn't get fooled by a single one. Even when they hid the tiniest piece of ham with the rest of the veggies, she spit the whole thing out as soon as she realized.
She was seen by a GI, an OT, speech pathologist, and a psychologist. The great news is there doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong with her. Nothing medically, nothing from a sensory standpoint, nothing wrong with her oral process. There is no physical reason she doesn't eat. It's all behavioral, it seems, so we just have to address that. They gave me a lot of tips on what to do. I've heard some of them before, but some are new. Even the old stuff is good to revisit, because so much changes in a month.
-Every meal should include both preferred foods and ones she doesn't. They told me to cut the new or foods she avoids into much smaller pieces so they look less scary or into strips she can grab, but only bite off a small corner. We can't expect her to jump right in if she's anxious, so we should promote ways she may feel comfortable with experimenting when the stars align. We should also be consistent in what we are trying to get her to like. For example, I would love for her to like hot dogs or chicken nuggets so she can eat meat of some kind, but it's also readily available if we're out and about. Pick a whole week to devote to the introduction of hot dog. Present her with it every day until she gets used to the idea a bit more, and she should eventually become more receptive.
-They suggested more co-feeding and getting one of those little dipper spoons so she can feed herself whatever I'm feeding her at the same time so there is shared control.
-They also told us to really do exaggerated modelling with her. The OT got right up to her and showed her exactly how she moved the food in her mouth and chewed. That was interesting, because I only showed her how I put something in my mouth. She would then only pretend to put it in her mouth. But she can't really pretend to move food around in her mouth. She was pretty interested in what she was doing, so that might be a good thing to do, even though it's kind of gross to have her gawk at me chewing food!
-No reprimanding for bad behavior during mealtimes. Just neutral reactions unless she is doing well. Then be very positive and full of praise. When she starts spitting everything, they noticed that she looks directly at me. She's fishing for a reaction. I have to make it so that the only time she ever gets a reaction from me is when she is having good eating behavior.
-Another thing, it seems she likes very flavorful foods. They gave me a handout of suggestions to try to stimulate her tastebuds a little more. She may just be bored of bland stuff. Garlic, Onions, Olives, Mint, Salsa, Cinnamon, Curry, Cayenne, etc.
Anyway, I feel generally good about it all. No magic solution to make it all better, of course, but we're on the right track.
Oh, and everyone loved her! Her cuteness factor was certainly off the charts today. I couldn't believe how social she was being. I was proud of her. Also, they were extremely impressed with her development. They don't usually see kids until 18 months, but they said that even at 16 months, she's way more advanced than any 18 month old they had ever seen. That was nice to hear. She was showing off like crazy, pointing out the red chairs, the numbers on the clock, even the "pretty bracelet" one of the examiners had on. That's my girl!
Rosalie, Mommy to Anna (05/06) and Thomas (10/08)