One of my favorite Ellyn Satter quotes is “when parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating”. It is certainly apparent that infants and toddlers need their parents to play an active role in helping them to form happy relationships with food. But it’s important to remember that older children (even adolescents) still need their parental involvement.
When starting a wean, there are so many questions. One of the recurring fears that I discuss with parents is: What if this doesn’t work, where do we go from here? When tackling this answer, it’s really important to back up a step and to start with another question: How do we define success and “working”?
So often I hear loving and well-intended caregivers using phrases like 'I was able to,' or how do I 'get it into them' (referring to food, utensils, or oral motor therapy tools getting into children). How do I 'get them to open their mouths' so I can 'do x to them.' I hear meals described as feeds, sessions, therapy, or exercises. Lots of words that describe doing things TO our kids.
Weaning is a long, hard, and exciting journey for everyone, but is possibly truest for families working to wean their toddlers: children gaining newfound independence in all ways, but especially with food. This independence likely comes with behaviors such as refusal, pickiness, short attention spans at the table, tantrums for no apparent reason, and possible plate throwing.
Stomach bugs, strep, colds, coughs, pneumonia, and flu season – every childhood illness can prove to be quite intense for many families, but perhaps most for those whose children have recently weaned (or are in the process of weaning) from their feeding tubes. So if you fall into that category, and you're navigating the world of sick kids who are mid- or post-wean, we have a few tips that might be helpful.