Getting a Child To Eat

April 8, 2011 by Rieshy

How do you get a child to eat after a massive stomach virus has landed them in the hospital?  Especially a FOD child with weak oral-motor skills,  a sluggish g.i., and a history of feeding issues?  Not to mention a throat and esophagus rendered raw and sore by the affects of a stomach virus.

A child who doesn't like Popsicles.  What kid doesn't like Popsicles? Oh, yeah mine.

This is the first time we had to request help.  I called in the cavalry, a.k.a -a speech pathology consult. A good speech pathologist is worth her weight in gold- especially when it comes to feeding issues.

"Most importantly, don't pressure him or tell him he can't go home until he starts to eat," she said.*

"Gradually. Disinterestedly. Don't worry about nutrition at first," she said.
"Start with food and/or the smells of food being near to him."

I switched gears. I nibbled his Poptart and left it on his tray.  He didn't gross out. I pretended not to gross out- fake strawberry- yuck.

We went on a couple of outings to the food court to buy my dinner.  First 2 times we didn't make it because the smells of Taco Bell were just too... potent.

(Note that my handbag is being used to tie his I.V. pole to his car- genius, no?)

Food court fun.  Fat-free sorbet from Ben and Jerry's.  I had to breathe deeply and pretend I didn't care that all he did with his $4.00 child's sorbet was stir it and lick the spoon once making everything sticky in the process.  
Note the blurry Star Wars action figure a friend brought him; it really liked the sorbet.

First meal: one bite of pancakes.  The day after that bite it was like re-learning to ride a bicycle.  A bicycle with sorbet.

From actively switching gears to success- 3 1/2 days.

home again, home again, jiggity jog.

*Goggle 28 Steps to Eating or the SOS Approach for more info.  A body that doesn't break down fat molecules correctly cannot go long without food.  We don't have the luxury of saying, "He'll eat when he's hungry enough," because in reality if he gets, "hungry enough," he'll be having seizures from hypoglycemia and be unable to eat.


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