For most parents, this may not have been a highlight in your twin’s lives but for us, one of the greatest days was when our pediatrician told us we could introduce solids to our twins! They had just reached six months corrected and I felt like I could finally breathe. Grace has always been our struggle when it came to eating (I know I talk about this a lot but it seriously consumes our lives). We had spent the first six months of her life fighting her with every bottle, listening to her cry as we tried to get millilitre after millilitre into her body and cleaning up every surface of our house after she vomited everywhere. It was a very long, frustrating, gross six months to say the least.
We started simple with solids… just mixing some formula right into organic oatmeal once per day. Grace instantly loved it. It gave us another a chance to offer her something she enjoyed instead of just the bottle that she dreaded. It also opened up our options when she flat out refused the bottle- we could add some oatmeal to a bowl and load it up with formula and spoon food her the mixture to get more of the formula into her. It helped ease the panic that she wasn’t eating enough. This was also an easier spot to sneak in some canola oil for extra calories. Eventually, we got a bit more daring by mixing a new pureed fruit every week into her oatmeal for some new flavours. She has a great pallet and really likes just about all fruits and vegetables.
Shortly after, we introduced Cole to oatmeal as a start. He loved it, as he’s loved just about every new food we’ve introduced to him since. He’s definitely our power eater and he has never had a problem with new textures or flavours. We utilized the oatmeal to help fill Cole up because he grew so quickly that he was up to thirty ounces of formula but still hungry. The oatmeal helped to keep him full so he could sleep better during his naps and through the night.
Once we mastered the oatmeal, we started with other purees… mostly fruits and vegetables straight. I tried really hard to make most of my own. I would puree bananas, mangos, avocados, peaches, butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. When time was tight, we’d buy organic purees and the kids always did great with those as well. It was great to be able to create new mixes- one of their favorites was avocado and banana. This was also a parent favorite as its filled with good calories!
Next, we started introducing new pieces of food like cheerios, puffs, whole wheat bread pieces, etc. at around eight months corrected. Cole had no issue with the new food options but Grace started to gag constantly, which often caused vomiting again. We struggled with this new phase a lot and tried to remedy it by softening the food pieces. When that really didn’t work, we started breaking the solids into really small pieces. That helped but we still often lost a bottle to vomiting it back up while gagging on solid foods.
When Grace turned a year and we were still struggling with her feeding with solids, we decided to see a feeding specialist. We were referred to a wonderful team at MGH and had our initial evaluation. Thankfully, our specialist did not see any major issues with Grace’s feeding but made some wonderful suggestions that have helped us a lot. She suggested that we start with food in stick form instead of small pieces. This gave Grace the control she needed to place the stick of food in the appropriate place in her mouth which is very different from a piece of food where the parents dictate the size of the piece. We started with veggie sticks, graham crackers, French fries, sweet potato fries and cheddar cheese cut in strips. She also reminded us that there are foods that she may not like and she is going to gag on that because of the taste. Try to take note of what those are and offer other foods as a replacement.
Grace turned over a new leaf! The food in stick form helped Grace to be able to control her gagging and enjoy the foods a lot more. She started eating more and keeping down all of her food. Now, is this a perfect science? Of course not- we still have days where we need to clean out the high chair because she’s thrown up all over it but those days are much fewer now.
Now, a few months later, we have moments where Grace’s face lights up when we give her food. She is obsessed with cheerios and loves bampas (peanut flavoured curls). She loves eating sticks of cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. She gets so excited when we take watermelon out of the fridge! It’s so amazing to see her excited about food. We worried for so long that she would have long term food aversions after all of her reflux, gagging and vomiting. I know when I get sick like that, I don’t want to eat that food for a long time but Grace is forced to take a bottle a few hours later. Grace has been a champ through all of these feeding struggles and if she’s anything like her mama, she’s going to learn to love to eat.