Since infancy, Cole has been a difficult kid to feed. I exclusively breastfed him until he got his first tooth at 5 months of age. He was always a biter when he nursed so when that first tooth cut through, I figured out pretty quickly that if I didn’t wean him, I was going to loose some essential parts! He was weaned that day. Cole took the bottle without a problem and was then formula fed.
I was oh so lucky to be living next door to a first time mom who had a baby girl 2 weeks older than Cole. She LOVED to tell me all the new things that her over achieving super baby was doing at an insane rate of development! She sat up at 2.5 months, she crawled by 3.5 months and was walking by 6 months of age! The food tales started at 4.5 months old when her Dr. recommended that she start solids. Little super baby was eating cereal, bananas, mashed potatoes and every type of fruit or veggie one can imagine!! Since Cole was already on formula by that time and seemed to have an appetite, I decided to start him on solids and my public health nurse agreed. Out came the cereal which only ended up on my shirt. The nurse suggested that he might not like the flavour so I should try fruit. Well, every type of fruit you can imagine ended up on my shirt!! Cole did NOT like any thing! until he discovered Cheerios. He could down them like nobody’s business. He pretty much lived on Cheerios and milk (but not together) for the first 3 years of his life.
Needless to say, I kept his bottle because milk was the only real nutrition he was getting. I also used it to mask Tylenol a few times when he had a fever. I started slipping supplements into his milk. It had to be relatively tasteless or in tiny quantities that he couldn’t detect. I added protein powder, but not enough to thicken his milk or he would gag. I let Cole keep his bottle until he was 5 because I felt that it was important to have that method of administering medication if necessary. I ignored the “helpful” comments about his age and my allowing him to have a bottle. Lets face it, he was in diapers until he was 5 too!
Then came the days when Cole discovered the wonderful potato!! French fries being his first choice, he also liked hash browns and goes through stages of liking mashed potatoes. One thing I can say for Cole’s willingness to eat is this: if there is a food that Cole likes, he likes it 100%! French Fries are my favorite example. He will eat any and all French fries including the ones on the floor under the table at McDonalds! He will eat the French fries left behind by a stranger and the ones he found in the seat of the car from who knows when!
Over the years, Coles food preferences have changed randomly with the same unpredictable rhythm as his sensory preferences. If at any point while you are reading this you have thought “picky eater,” I could laugh out loud or scream at the notion. I had that suspicion too, in the beginning, but I have learned that this is something different. For example, Cole has an issue with texture, especially mixing textures. Two things he likes very much are chocolate and rice crispy squares. He will eat large amounts of either. But if you drizzle the chocolate over the rice crispy squares, both become completely disgusting to him. He will lick the chocolate spoon clean and pick the morsels of rice crispies out off the pan, but he will not eat them once they are together. Foods that are the wrong texture or have too much flavour or smell literally make him gag and vomit. I never ever got anywhere by trying to force him to eat something. I can sometimes make a bargain with him that if he will try to eat a small portion or take a few bites of a food that isn’t too far off of his sensory pattern in exchange for a highly desirable treat.
Over the years I have picked my battles carefully. I “exposed” him to foods he didn’t like by offering him things I knew he couldn’t tolerate and simply requiring that he say, “no thank you” instead of scream. When that became easy, I would have him smell the food before saying no thank you. Then taste, a bit and so on. Cole got to the point where I could serve him a bowl of stew and he could pick and eat the meat and potatoes out of the bowl. However, it seemed that every time I made some ground, he would go into a fit of sensory defensiveness and regress right back to only tolerating crackers. I tried Gluten/Casein free and he pretty much starved for a week because he only wanted cheese and bread!
Once Cole started swallowing pills, I had the opportunity to give him regular supplementation to his inadequate diet. This gave me great satisfaction since there is nothing that makes me feel like a failure as a mother like being unable to nourish my child! After a couple years, Cole started resisting the supplements and began regurgitating them in the bathroom sink!! I felt pretty defeated.
For the past few months I have been planning, plotting and working up the courage to begin again. I think that even small improvements in Cole’s health will be worth the effort. Being the New Year, January first seemed like the right time to start. I am hoping he can stick to the GAPS diet for at least 3 months and I’ll be honest; we can’t really call it the GAPS diet yet. It is our model goal, but we are compromising a lot just to keep Cole on board. We have significantly reduced gluten, but potatoes are still his true love. We have also nearly completely eliminated sugar and so far he is accepting healthy sugar alternatives. I am very slowly adding a few supplements specifically for healing his leaky gut and so far he is complying.
I hope to have many positive reports in the future!