Encompass Blog

Learning to Eat Again

April 27, 2021  |  Early Intervention, Pediatric Therapy  |  By Encompass Pediatric Therapy

At 11 months, Violet loves to eat!  Her favorite foods are peas, carrots, blueberries, and ground beef. While that might seem like a pretty typical palette for her age, it was a rather turbulent journey to get to this point. 

baby with feeding tube croppedFor the first few months of her life, Violet was breastfeeding and bottle feeding without any challenges.  But at the age of four months, she was hospitalized for severe gastrointestinal symptoms related to a suspected cow’s milk allergy.  At that time, she was switched to a hypoallergenic formula, but the stress and trauma from her experience led to her refusal to eat orally.  She was transitioned to a naso-gastric (NG) tube during her hospitalization. After 18 days in the hospital, Violet returned home taking all of her feeds from an NG tube.

Violet’s parents tried their best to offer her a bottle during the day, however, when they would hold her in their arms and present the bottle, she would turn away and refuse. They knew they needed help. At five months, Violet began receiving feeding support from the Encompass Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program.

Through therapy sessions, Violet’s parents partnered with their feeding therapist to imagine the barriers to feeding through Violet’s perspective. Her association with this activity was negative and painful. Changes were made to help her to re-write her cognitive and physical experiences away from her traumatic past. Her parents worked hard to set the stage for Violet to have a positive mealtime experience.  They made changes in her eating routine, including where Violet ate, what vehicle was presented for her to feed from, how she was positioned, as well as their own behavior and expectations.

Violet responded positively to the changes that were made and she began to take formula from a honey bear straw cup.  She was also introduced to solid foods and loved being able to taste new flavors and textures.  With a consistent routine of oral mealtimes during the day, Violet quickly learned to take larger volumes of formula while sitting in her highchair. Mealtime transformed from a stressful activity to a fun and social activity for Violet and her parents. With these successes, Violet was able to fully wean from her NG tube when she was 8 months old.

Violet loves to eat now.  She is enjoying the independence of self-feeding finger foods and continues to love to try new foods.  Mealtime is a joyful experience for the whole family!

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