On Wednesday, we went to CHOW for a sort of “emergency” intervention with Charlotte’s feeding. Basically, she has started pretending to gag. She forces the gag strongly enough to make herself really gag and then, sometimes, to vomit. Most of the time, you can tell a real gag/reflux episode from a behavioral episode, but not always.
I wanted to learn techniques to stop this behavior before she’s in hospital next week because I’m really, really afraid to lose ground on the feeding front in her recovery period. We’ve noticed that when she wants to and is feelign well, Charlotte can drink 7.5 ounces of milk and eat a tablespoon of food. We’re looking for tactics to help make that kind of meal the norm.
She forces the gag to try gain control over her feeding, to determine when the meal ends, or to get attention.
So, we got to CHOW and she ate like a dream. She dove into her salmon and macaroni and cheese with abandon. She drank all by herself from a sippy cup. (Now, I know most 22 month olds feed themselves, for the most part. But, remember, if you will, that Charlotte does not.) She was perfectly well behaved. Of course. I told the doctors ahead of time that I was sure she would be an angel for them.
When she was done, Dr. Long taught me some techniques to stop the gagging. Basically a) ignore the behavior or/then b) startle her by saying no (much in the same way you’d talk to a puppy about to pee on the floor). Verbally remind Charlotte to chew and swallow while stroking her cheek and throat. Keep the meal short, 15-20 minutes max. And praise, praise, praise when she feeds herself, chews a good bite, etc.
Hats off to CHOW. It’s been 4 days and we’re already seeing VAST improvement in her mealtime attitude. Her solid food quantities seem to have doubled since Wednesday and her milk intake is consistently 3-5 ounces in a meal.
Fingers crossed that we’ll see this continue after surgery.