Monday, July 25, 2005

Mealtime Madness

Why is mealtime such a frustration? I suspect every parent asks this at some point. At my house we worry about my daughter's low weight and super-strong gag reflex as the source of a lot of this frustration. Some children with my daughter's disorder actually have tubes inserted to give them the nourishment they need to keep them alive because they just won't eat. That's a fear that lingers in the mind of my wife and I as we strive to stuff our daughter full of pretty much anything she'll eat.

Things used to be worse than they are now. When we first introduced my little angel to baby food, she simply wouldn't swallow. The fact that the food wasn't liquid made her gag on everything. Developmental specialists have told us that we may have to introduce new things to our daughter many more times than the typical child. Sure enough after literally weeks of trying my daughter began to stomach some foods besides just baby formula. She liked some foods more than others. Peas and beans were just out of the question. I guess I can't blame her for that. I've noticed they don't even make broccoli flavored baby food. It's probably for the best.

Even now at 18 months my wife and I are still working to get her eating ground up table food instead of the pureed canned stuff. Slow progress is something I've come to expect in my daughter's life, but it's the threat of that food tube if my daughter fails to gain enough weight that keeps us stuffing her. She has started developing an affinity for Froot Loops and CheezIts, but to my wife's frustration, there's just not much nutrition in either of those.

I wonder when mealtime will cease to be such a trial. Sometimes things seem to go better and my daughter will eat fine for a while, albeit slowly, but she has relapses where she stops eating altogether sometimes. I'll have to talk with more parents to see if this is typical of most households, but for now, mealtime is one of the toughest things about being a parent.

It appears to be a challenge for most disabled children to get the hang of it. There's actually a class at the school for the disabled that my daughter attends dedicated solely to teaching kids how to eat. My little one has started going. I sure hope it helps. I don't know what my wife and I would do without some of these great resources to help our little girl out.

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