Benja’s Eating Update

It was almost exactly a year ago that I was in Uganda trying to convince 18 month old Benja that having something {anything!} in his mouth was OK.   At that point anything you tried to put near his mouth (your hand, a spoon, toothbrush, etc) was pushed away violently.  If you insisted he would throw himself backwards, shaking his head back and forth as fast as possible and start to cry.  He would do anything  to keep whatever you were offering away from his mouth.

Shortly after we came home we notice he started putting toys up to his mouth.  But only if he did it himself.   I spent time every day forcing my finger into his mouth to massage his gums.  His dentist shook his head, muttering under his breath that he couldn’t believe that Benja kept his mouth so clamped shut all the time that most of his teeth have never been given a chance to erupt.  “Do what you can to get him used to having things in his mouth…” the doctor told us.   They tried to pry his mouth open at one point at the hospital.  It was then that we realized we were dealing with a bigger problem – that it wasn’t that he wouldn’t open his mouth, he couldn’t.    It only opened a few centimeters.

So I kept at it.  Massaging his gums, encouraging him to make sounds and move his mouth, clapping and cheering when his tongue ventured past his teeth to test the taste of a new toy.   We started to notice him opening his mouth more and more.   And then he realized he loved the taste of icing.  So if we put our fingers in his mouth with something sweet he would allow us to keep doing it over and over.

A few months later he discovered that baby food on a spoon was pretty yummy.   That was the start of his love affair with food and the end of his oral aversion.  Now anything and everything that can be eaten off a spoon is taken happily.  Just the sight of spoon gets him excited.  And holding a spoon, even with nothing on it, is one of his favorite things to do.  He can now open his mouth wide enough to stick a small finger between the top and bottom jaw.  A spoon still wont fit between his teeth but if you scoop the food under his top lip he has learned to suck it down quickly.

He even lets us brush his front teeth now.   And enjoys it!

A few months ago I started seriously trying to get Benja to feed himself.  He’s started eating small melt-away yogurt snacks that I push between his teeth and onto his tongue.   I’m hoping he can master picking these snacks up on his own but we haven’t gotten there yet.

We’ve also been slowly introducing him to the idea of feeding himself baby food with a spoon.

It has been slow going.  For months we’ve worked on this.

Last night, like I have a hundred times in the past, I put him in a highchair with a tiny bit of applesauce in a bowl in front of him.   I took a hold of his hand with the spoon in it.  Over and over again I dipped the spoon into the food and guided his hand to his mouth.  Then I let go.   And guess what?  HE KEPT GOING!   He fed himself the rest of that bowl and then I gave him some more and he fed himself that one too!

Look at him go!  PROGRESS!!!  So proud of our baby boy!!

IMG 4263 from sister haiti on Vimeo.

 

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2 Comments to “Benja’s Eating Update”

  1. That’s HUGE! Congrats! Never, never, never give up:) I heard a good phrase when dealing with a child when progress seems stalled, “Not today, maybe tomorrow”… I love the simplicity and truth of it.

  2. Yeah Yeah YEAH!!!! Way to go, Benja!! Celebrating this new step of your little guy. (And way to go MOM for sticking at it!)

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