When you reflect on your childhood, do you recall feeling pressured to eat a certain food or meal? For me, it was meatloaf. I instantly knew when I asked my mom what’s for dinner and she said meatloaf, that is was going to be a terrible night.
When one of your kids is tube-fed or recently weaned, it’s easy to overlook the other kids at your dinner table, or forget that safe and joyful meals are just as important for non-tubies as for tube fed kids. I learned this the hard way – that there are a few things to be aware of when your tubie is not an only child.
Being the parent of a toddler is exceptionally fun and rewarding. It can also be exhausting. Developmentally, toddlers are learning to be independent people. Having a toddler with a feeding tube brings its own set of challenges. How do we, as loving caregivers, help the toddlers in our lives with tubes get ready to participate in a wean during this sometimes challenging developmental stage?
One of the big questions that comes up as a child becomes more and more driven to eat orally is “How do I get their skills to catch up?” While some kids will need the help of a local feeding therapist to more intensively work on the muscles for biting and chewing, there are some things that we can do to help set our kids up to be successful, as well as help progress their skills for biting and chewing naturally.
I learned how to let go of my anxiety-ridden control tactics, and my daughter found her appetite and learned to eat happily and independently. But that took time, patience, and a lot of help. And looking back, there is one thing that I would tell that tired, frustrated mom who skipped Thanksgiving dessert to cry in the bathroom.