Thursday, April 7, 2011

A good rubdown

Yeesh, I have a half dozen, started but then abandoned posts. They were once good ideas, but oh well. Hopefully this one will stick!

While Lacey has a delightful personality, full of sweetness and kisses and smiles, there have been some big frustrations with her development. She is a lousy sleeper and a super picky eater. I know I have crabbed about this endlessly in the past, but I wanted to revisit this because things have somewhat improved.

My pediatrician has suggested multiple times to take Lacey to see an occupational therapist who deals with feeding issues. At first, I thought--what, every picky eater now has a "disorder"? Give me a break. But then I noticed that Lacey never ever mouthed toys, even when she was teething, she never chewed on her fingers, she never put anything other than food in her mouth (except for little bits of toilet paper--weird) which I thought was odd for a toddler. So I figured, what the heck, I will take her in and see what they say.

The big issues with Lacey were that she rejected almost all veggies and didn't really like to pick up foods with her hands and feed herself. The only veggie she would eat is peas, BUT they had to be in a soup and spoon fed to her. A spoon of just peas would be spit out, a bowl of peas dumped on the floor. She would not touch pea and put it in her mouth. There were other foods that met a similar reaction--fine if spoon fed, but she would not self-feed. Her list of tolerable foods were limited to 3 different homemade soups (meat or tofu, veggie, starch), which of course is very limiting. So, after a 2 hour interview and watching Lacey eat things she will eat and foods that are more challenging for her, the OT said she had a very mild sensory issue categorized as tactile defensiveness. She explained it to me that certain textures made her feel extremely anxious--fight or flight anxious. It also may contribute to her horrendous sleep patterns--at the time, she was waking 2-5 times per night crying and we let her CIO each time. It never got better, i.e. she never "learned" to stay asleep.

The OT showed me how to give her a very specific massage where you squeeze her arms and legs and do mini compressions on her shoulders, wrists, hips, and knees. She loves it! I am supposed to do it at least 5 times a day and the idea is that it helps desensitize her nervous system so that texture and touching things doesn't feel so scary. Seems kinda goofy to me, but I gave it a try and I can definitely see an improvement. She has expanded her list of acceptable foods and is more open to trying new things, even if it ends up on the floor. As far as her sleep goes, the OT told me to try a thick quilt or weighted blanket, which sometimes helps them feel that squeeze feeling when they sleep. It was amazing--she sleeps through the night probably 50% of the time and wakes once the other 50% of the time! HUGE! I will take it!

I also read that book How to Get Your Kid to Eat, But Not Too Much (Thanks LauraC!), which I think really improved my own response and attitude to feeding a picky eater. I try really hard to leave it up to her to decide how much to eat and whether to eat, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't affect me when she doesn't eat dinner. I take it personally, which is ridiculous! I really try to just put the food in front of her and she eats what she eats, no pressure. I only offer new foods alongside foods I know she likes, this way if she doesn't like the new food, she has something to eat at least. The book was very helpful overall and I am happy to see an improvement.

One other thing that has helped so much is that I taught her how to use a spoon and fork. She will now self-feed cooked carrots, cooked celery, cooked spinach and cooked canned tomatoes, using a fork. This is an amazing feat, considering we have only been doing the therapy for a couple of months. I don't need to take her back to the OT, just keep up the massage.

Oh, and another thing--I have been so frustrated b/c I cannot get her off the boob! She wouldn't take soy milk or rice milk, so I was giving her fortified OJ in a sippy cup, which just felt like a piss poor substitute for breastmilk. So I crossed over to the dark side and gave her chocolate soymilk--she sucked that down no problem! Now she asks for her "mih". I am down to one session of breastfeeding right before bed which is about to go in a few weeks. I really did not want to be breastfeeding for this long, but she is such a cuddle bug, its so hard to give up!

So I will continue to try new foods with her and give her a little squeeze a few times a day--sometimes she will even squeeze me back and say, "Skeeze!" Love that kid!