When my daughter was 15 months old she still couldn’t eat any home made puree let alone solid food. I then realized that persistence and giving her more time won’t be enough to transition her to table food. I searched worldwide to find help for her and myself. I was surprised how little options were out there for a kid like her. I wanted to get the right help so to not waste any more time and risking her getting into the toddler stage and becoming fussy on top of the existing issues.
From what I‘ve read on the Internet, SOS feeding therapy was the leading type of therapy among feeding specialist around the world. I found a local clinic and made an initial appointment with a speech pathologist. What we wanted to know most was “How long it would take her to learn to eat?” I knew what answer we would get, but I asked anyway. The speech pathologist replied along the lines that every child is different as well as the reasons for having difficulties transitioning to table food or having restricted diet.
I still get annoyed with an answer like that. I agree that there are variations from child to child, however, they are the specialists who have worked with many children in their career and could provide a more meaningful answer. For a parent who has a child with feeding difficulties number one goal is to teach them to eat as quickly as possible. It is the daily struggle around mealtimes, anxiety that goes with it with no idea how to get the child out of this. In those early days I could see no light at the end of the tunnel, it affected our family and social life. The many specialists we saw couldn’t understand the daily struggle and the full extent of her feeding difficulties. If you are in this situation now, you know how important it is to be optimistic, have a direction and see the end to it.
So how long it does take to teach the child eat when he/she has missed the boat to transition to solids in their first year of life?
When we started the therapy at 15 months, mu daughter could not eat any solid food, not even a crumb. She would gag and vomit if the puree was too textured or anything solid went into her mouth.
Our therapy started with hard munchable foods like carrot or celery sticks, lolly pops, beef jerky… We tried many savory and sweet options, but none of them worked. We then tried soft meltable foods like puffs, hamburger rings, prawn crackers and hit a jackpot with cheese and bacon balls. It took my daughter 2 weeks to develop the skills to eat one whole cheese and bacon ball.
It took almost another 6 months for her to be able to eat a whole slice of bread, breaking it down to tiny pieces. We then added a chicken soup with tiny homemade pasta and ended pureed food for good.
A year after she started the therapy she had her first taste of spaghetti, which I recorded and you can watch it here:
We then added 2 minute noodles to the menu and keep trying other foods. She discovered chicken nuggets 15 months after the therapy, one of her favorite foods these days. It took 1.5 years for her to be able to eat mash potatoes and rice mixed with loads of sauce.
We did SOS feeding therapy with a speech pathologist on a fortnightly basis for approximately 6 months, and then continued with it at home. She is now 3.5 years old and I still continue with the therapy to keep adding new foods that have new taste or texture. I feel that she is now well and truly on pair with her peers and is more willing to try new foods than her twin brother who never had feeding issues.