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The Picky Eating Toddler & You

As promised, here is third and final blog post relating to feeding difficulties.

We all have experiences where our little ones refuse to eat their sweet potato that evening, or only wants to eat a portion of their meal…but when should you be concerned? When should we be worried if our child’s mealtime preferences are more than just a quirk? Below you’ll find a very quick overview of what to keep an eye on, and what you should do if you suspect your child is a Picky Eater. This by no means is the picky eater’s “bible” but I hope that it is informative and helpful to you to know if your child’s picky eating warrants professional help!

Red Flags of Picky Eating
– poor weight gain or weight loss
– ongoing choking, gagging or coughing during mealtimes
– ongoing problems with vomiting immediately before, during or right after mealtimes
– more than one incident of nasal reflux
– history of traumatic choking incident
– history of eating and breathing coordination problems with ongoing respiratory issues
– inability to transition to baby food purees by 10 months of age
– inability to accept any table food solids by 12 months of age
– inability to transition from the breast/bottle to a cup by 16 months of age
– has not been weaned off baby foods by 16 months of age
– an aversion or avoidance of all foods in a specific texture or food group (i.e. will only eat foods when pureed smoothly, or won’t eat any proteins, or won’t eat any orange coloured foods etc.)
– a food range of less than 20 foods (especially if these foods are being dropped over time by the child, with no new foods replacing those lost foods)
– crying/arching at most meal times
– it is difficult for every/anyone to feed the child
– family history of eating disorders

Why Is My Child A Picky Eater?
There could be a number of reasons as to why a toddler will present as a Picky Eater. It may be any one of the reasons listed below or it could be a combination of reasons.

Physiological
– oral motor weakness
– food allergies (some of these you may not know about as yet)
– reflux/GERD
– dysphagia/swallowing difficulties

Psychological
– traumatic experience in the past with certain foods (i.e. a choking episode, an allergic reaction etc.)
– history of being force fed
– traumatic experience orally (i.e. may have been intubated at birth with tubes through the mouth etc.)
– reflux (the knowledge that the food will hurt/burn when it is refluxed)
– anxiety and/or fear

Sensory
– heightened gag reflex
– oral defensiveness (doesn’t want anyone or anything touching the inside of their mouth)
– sensory defensiveness (this can include being defensive of seeing an undesired food or smelling an undesired food)
– sensory processing disorder

Behavioural
– frequent tantrums at mealtimes
– strong dependence on being “entertained” during meal times (i.e. watching the television etc.)
– general attention difficulties (i.e. is unable to focus for the short period of time to eat a meal).
– the toddler enjoys the reaction from the adults around him/her and continue to do it as an attention seeking opportunity).

Other Contributing Factors
– late exposure to solid foods (after 12 months of age)
– family history of picky eating/feeding disorders
– medical history (i.e. toddler may have been a premature baby etc.)
– developmental disorders (i.e. Autism Spectrum Disorder)

Picky Eater or Problem Feeder?
Typically Picky Eaters have two classifications – Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders, with “Picky Eaters” being the umbrella term for both.

Picky Eaters usually have…
– decreased range of foods that he/she will tolerate (however it is usually at least 30 different foods that he/she will eat)
– some foods may be lost due to “burn out” but will be re-gained after a break (i.e. won’t eat bananas after enjoying one daily for a month, but will start eating them again in a few weeks)
– able to tolerate new foods on their plate
– eats at least one food from most food texture/nutrition groups
– frequently eats a different set of foods at a meal than the rest of the family

Problem Feeders usually have…
– restricted range of foods (usually 20 different foods or less that he/she will eat)
– foods that are lost due to “burn out” will not be regained
– behavioural tantrums/melt downs occur when a new food is presented
– will often refuse to eat an entire category of food groups or textures (i.e. no solids, or no crunchy foods)
– always eats a different set of food at a meal than the rest of the family

What Do I Do?
If your child demonstrates red flags of picky eating, it is definitely worth taking him/her to see their Paediatrician. If there are concerns regarding weight gain, or regarding the range of foods that your child can eat, your Paediatrician will refer you to a Feeding Therapist. Usually this person is a Speech Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist but there are other allied health fields such as Physiotherapists or Dieticians/Nutritionists who may also be feeding therapists (in other jurisdictions). Keep in mind that there is no “cure all” for picky eating…each child is an individual and their needs are going to be unique. As a result, the team of professionals working with your child (Paediatrician, Nutritionist, Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist and whoever else may be working with your child) will try to take a very holistic approach to help your child overcome their battle with food!

I hope that this was informative and not too overwhelming!

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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The Forgotten Art of Sharing…

I’m really blessed to have so many like-minded friends in my close circle. Call us all a bit old fashioned but we believe in the art of sharing – especially when it comes to household things and kids stuff. What’s not to love about that? Don’t we teach our children that it’s good to share? Aren’t we taught about sharing in school? Yet it seems like when we become adults, magically, the need for sharing disappears! Is it a necessity to share? Probably not…but for frugally (and eco-friendly) minded people like me, why wouldn’t you?

For example – one of my friends was hosting a cocktail party at her house, the only issue was that she didn’t have enough wine glasses. She was fretting and didn’t want to have to purchase or rent the extra glasses that she really only needed for this one occasion. What did she do? She called me and a couple other of her girlfriends up. We each loaned her our wineglasses for her party. We each got them back in perfect condition a couple of days later. Problem solved.

To take it one step further, my friends and I actually make a point not to purchase things like platters, drink dispensers, coolers etc. if we know another friend has it – we purchase something else that will add to the “community pot” if you will. When we host parties, whatever leftover plates/cups/silverware goes into a community pot and is up for grabs for the next event. Plastic table cloths that are in good condition are wiped clean and folded away until someone else wants to use them and the list goes on.

The same goes with children’s items – especially clothes! Kids stay in a clothing size for all of what?…a couple of months – if you’re lucky! Gently used clothes are passed along to the next Mom-To-Be in the group. Other things like swings, bouncers, walkers and other baby items that are still in good condition are also up for grabs. Again, these are all things that are only used for a couple of months, if that. We all keep up to date on safety recalls, make a point to sanitize everything between each pass along and really enjoy seeing another baby getting some use out of the plethora of baby items we all have tucked inside of each of our homes.

In a conversation with an elderly lady, she shared that this was common practice 60 + years ago in “old time” Cayman. People borrowed each other’s China, books, pots, bassinets, clothing items etc. What one person had, the whole community could use. Not only did it add to the sense of community, but it encouraged a respectfulness of items (versus our “throw it away and get a new one” mentality today), and it taught people to take better care of things so that they can be used by the next person and in some cases, the next generation.

To me sharing isn’t just about saving a few dollars, it’s about bringing back the sense of community – building up the village that will play a part in raising my child as well as doing some good stuff for Mother Earth!

Until next time,
Cayman Mummy

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Swim, Swim, Swim on A Summer’s Day!

So during this summer, Cheeks has started swim class, with a group of other equally adorable babies. I’ve always been of the mindset that if you live on an island, you need to know how to swim! Not only for the safety aspects but can you imagine how much fun you’ll miss out on as an older child?! I really wanted to get Cheeks comfortable in the water from an early age and thus…Baby Swim Club evolved! There are lots of amazing swim coaches on island, but we chose to go with Treasure Island Swim School because Coach Marie was so flexible with scheduling.

I have to say, so far it’s been a wonderful experience! Not only does it give Cheeks and I an opportunity to bond doing a fun activity, but it also gives us both the chance to socialize! Cheeks gets to interact with other babies her age and I get a chance to touch bases with other mummies to vent, chat about development etc. Win-Win on all sides!

Swim Class 5
All of the babies enjoying song time in the pool with their Mummies/Daddies….
(Photo courtesy of Renee High)

Looking for a fun baby swim club for your little one? Check out Coach Marie of the Treasure Island Swim School – www.aapcoaching.ky OR https://www.facebook.com/TreasureIslandSwimSchool.