A Breakthrough With Eating Textures

Friends, Jax had a breakthrough today at therapy! He picked up a piece of food and put. it. in. his. mouth!

And then he gagged, choked, and threw up all over the place. But he did it! He put food (with a texture!) in his mouth!

Over the last couple of months, we have been working very hard at introducing new textures and crunchy food. Strangely, Jax will put everything *except* food into his mouth: toys, blankets, fingers, you name it. How does he know the difference between food and anything else? I don’t know, but if we put textured food (mainly puffs) in front of him he would barely touch it and never try to put it in his mouth.

At the beginning, Jax would gag when we would put a puff to his lips. So we tried crumbling the puff into his puree to get him used to the grainy texture. He gagged when it touched his tongue and he would spit it all out. But we got it past his lips! Eventually, he became less sensitive to the small crumbles so we moved onto bigger pieces. He gagged. He puked.

Do you see a pattern here? It’s been slow going. One thing his speech therapist (who helped teach him how to suck from a bottle) in the NICU said:

“We can fix can’t, but we can’t fix won’t.”

The last thing we wanted to do was make eating textures an even more stressful experience for Jax. Jax, and other kids with significant history on the ventilator or CPAP breathing support, often show signs of oral aversion. I would, too, if I constantly had something down my throat or covering my nose! So not only have we been introducing textures very slowly, we have been working hard at not reacting to his reaction. In other words, when he gags, I don’t freak out and get scared. Instead, I make chewing motions with my mouth and smile. (This is really hard to do!)

So, when we put the Baby Num Num (it’s a rice cracker than dissolves very quickly, so it’s great for teaching kids how to eat), neither his therapist or I expected him to do anything with it. You can imagine our surprise when he immediately grabbed it and started biting it! He did a really great job, until a piece broke off into his mouth. He gagged, he choked, he puked. But, it’s progress for sure. He even picked up another piece off his tray and started playing with it! This was huge because it means he is not associating food with bad things (i.e. puking and choking) – just what we’ve been working to prevent!

The next step in the process is the scope of his airway to make sure there isn’t any scar tissue that may physically be making it hard for Jax to eat.

In the meantime, we will celebrate this breakthrough with a HIP, HIP, HOORAY!

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Author: Andrea M

Oh man, what an adventure! I went into labor unexpectedly when I was 23w3d pregnant. Jaxson was born weighing 1 lb 8 oz. A tiny little peanut, but boy was he feisty. He still is! We love it now, but we probably won't when he is a teenager. I write about our journey and all other things that come with it, including a brain tumor. We look forward to "meeting" you - come hang out with us...we're pretty cool.

11 thoughts on “A Breakthrough With Eating Textures”

    1. It was slow going for sure – and he hasn’t done it since! But – it was definitely a step in the right direction. I’ll send some good eating vibes to Charlie!

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  1. Jax is fantastic! I love reading how he is doing! All of it: The Good The Bad and The Ugly. It is just great that you share his life with Us. I hope he has less and less The Bad and The Ugly and that his life is filled with lots of The Good! Sending you lots of Love!

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    1. Thanks, Teresa! That is so sweet. Thanks for reading. It was so strange not being at the Summer Institute this year – it was the first one I missed in 12 years!

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  2. Progress! It must be very difficult to not want to freak out, I know I would. But then as a parent I’ve also played the other end and tried to trick the kids into eating things as a baby. Hopefully the scope will be easy for all and give you a clearer picture. Hope your enjoying the weather!

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  3. Eat, gag, puke…..that is fantastic! I absolutely lve your blogs an I look forward to each and every one of them. Attaboy, Jax! I still think you rock!!!!

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