Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ruthie's Eating (or lack thereof)

The Milk Moms have been really fantastic about listening to me obsess, ad nauseum about Ruthie's eating. And they (and every other person in town that I've told about this) have given some good suggestions. None of which have worked more than once. In a desperate quest for the magic answer, I posted this message on a listserv for parents in P.G. County. I think I'm also going to see Pat at the breastfeeding center next week if there's no improvement before then.

My 9 month old refuses to eat almost all solid foods. Since she is exclusively breastfed and showed no signs of being interested, I waited until 7 months to introduce solids. For six weeks I tried about once a day to get her to eat baby food from a spoon - all sorts of different homemade cereals, homemade fruit and vegetable purees, and then commercial baby cereals and baby fruits and vegetables. She would occasionally let some of it be spooned into her mouth, but only once or twice did she ever display interest by opening her mouth and leaning towards the spoon. A couple weeks ago I started giving her zwieback crackers and heels of bread and while she is content to gnaw on them, I don't think she actually eats them. And yes, I've also tried chunks of fruit and vegetables in the "self-feeder" and she also won't open her mouth for that.

I'm not worried about her getting "enough" to eat - she's exclusively breast-fed and I know that in many other cultures babies don't start eating any solids until they can reach forward and grab them from the mother's plate or bowl. She continues to display appropriate weight gain, so I know she's getting enough calories.

However, I am worried for a couple reasons. First, she also refuses to willingly take any medicine - we have to hold her down, squeeze her cheeks, etc. so I don't give her medicine unless she really needs it. But she did get medicine for one reason or another as a younger infant with some regularity and I'm worried that she has developed some sort of aversion to ANYTHING going in her mouth other than my bre.ast or a pacifier, and the toys she puts in there herself. She gets a bottle of expressed milk a couple times a week from my husband or a sitter and she'll drink it but it takes her a really long time (30 minutes or so) to drink 3-4 ounces.

Second, since she was eating so little, my pediatrician asked to have a blood test to check her iron. It was low (her numbers were 9.8 and 25 ?) and the pediatrician recommended that she take iron supplements. I'm happy to do so, but cannot get her to take it in any form, even mixed in with apple juice in a bottle. (This was a big deal for me to try juice as my 2.5 year old had NO juice before she was 2 years old or so). I don't want to mix the iron supplement in with breast milk in a bottle because I can't run the risk of doing anything that might make her refuse the bottle. I can still smell the iron when it's mixed in with 2 oz. of juice and I suspect the same will be true if I mix it in with breast milk.

I originally wanted to skip baby food altogether and just have her eat our family food - but since she has so little experience swallowing anything besides liquid, I'm scared to let her pick off my plate. And that doesn't solve the iron issue anyway. I've made it this far exclusively breastfeeding and I really don't want to give her formula, even though it is iron fortified. And frankly, there's no guarantee that she'll even drink the formula. (No judgment implied if your baby has formula, I just don't want to go that route.)


I think one of the mistakes I may have been making is that I've only been trying things 2-3 times. I'm also focusing on baby cereals rather than baby fruit or veggies, since the cereal is fortified with iron. So, here's my plan for the next week:
  • Bottle of apple juice (2 oz.) and iron medicine at every diaper change. Use Gerber straight nipple, med. flow.
  • Sippy cup of apple juice (2 oz.) and iron medicine while playing. Use soft white spouts.
  • Spoon feed breastmilk with a little baby oatmeal in the morning and post morning nap.
  • Give heel of bread at lunch-time.
  • Spoon feed breastmilk with a little baby oatmeal post afternoon nap.
  • Give zwieback toast or cheerios at dinner time. Try frozen fruit in self feeder if we (and she) feels up to it.
Looking at this all typed out makes me seem a little crazy. But then I'm a little desperate. I don't know what a reasonable time period is to try these things. A week is a good round figure, so I'll try for a week. Luckily I've got lots of other suggestions to try if this plan doesn't work.

Wish me luck!

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And in some good news, Ive got a ton of stuff ready for the neighborhood consignment sale on Saturday. I'll also be spending the night Saturday night with my sister BY MYSELF to ensure an adequate 8 hours of sleep. It will be my first time to sleep more than a 5 hour stretch in 9 months. A friend suggested it and David said he had been thinking the same thing. I'm only too happy to agree.

1 comment:

The Lowe said...

I remember reading that the number of times to try a new food was 11 or 12.

 
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