My daughter just turned a year this month and will NOT eat table foods. I have been trying scrambled eggs, some stage 3 foods but she gags on everything, sometimes even throws it up. I finally got her to eat the puffs from Gerber but I have to break it down very small. I am a preschool teacher and work w/children from ages 3-5. I know I have to keep trying and trying but this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Do you think she needs a food therapist? I am becoming so frustrated and just want to cry.
Feeding challenges with young children are very frustrating, so we understand your concern. Many young children have difficulty when they transition from smooth pureed foods to foods with texture and table foods. I would definitely recommended seeking an early intervention evaluation from an occupational and/or speech therapist who specializes in feeding. They can give you tips and strategies to ease your daughter through this transition and help her to begin to accept new foods. She may also benefit from oral motor play using a Nuk brush, or textured toys she can dip in foods and then bite and chew on. Also try presenting foods on the sides of her mouth, rather than in the middle…cut soft toast into strips and present on sides to encourage a bite, or let her hold a cheese curls and suck and bite on it herself. You are doing the right thing by breaking the puffs into tinier pieces and the article except below may give you more ideas on how to gradually thicken foods for her until she gets used to new textures.
You may also wish to read this article about stage 3 foods.
This is an excerpt from an article from our January 2011 newsletter Thrive Bites (which you can subscribe to for free via the link in the bottom right hand corner of this page.
Foods are thickened in order to help a child transition from pureed, strained and smooth foods to more thickly textured foods and later table foods.
Your occupational and/or speech therapist will give you specific information on what may work best for your child. Be aware that it may take your child several tries to get them accustomed to new thickeners/ flavors/tastes. If your child doesn’t like one thickening agent, try a different one, however, give your child many trials to accept new foods/flavors before giving up entirely.
Below are some examples of things that can easily be added to foods or beverages in order to thicken them:
- Yogurt and yogurt with fruit bits
- Pudding/instant pudding
- Baby cereals
- Mashed potato flakes
- Sour cream
- Thick salad dressings
- Mashed avocado
- Mashed bananas
- Refried beans or mashed beans
- Cream of wheat or oatmeal flakes
- Wheat germ
- Commercial brands of thickeners like “Thick-It”
Be aware that adding thickeners adds calories to your child’s foods, which may or may not be beneficial to him or her. Be sure your child drinks plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration, which is even more important when using thickeners which will bind to liquids. Consult with a dietitian for help with your child’s specific dietary needs.