A Journey to Mashed Potato
She had a mop of red hair and I thought she was the most beautiful baby in the world. I was amazed at how perfect she was and that I had grown her. I stared at her for three hours marvelling at her perfect fingers and toes – and then she started to cry!
Whilst in hospital, she was taken away from me, for short periods of time, “to give me a break” and I saw looks of pity on the faces of the nurses as we left hospital to take our first born home.
She was difficult to settle right from the start. We rocked and patted and shushed for hours. We had fabulous Nurse Julie, as we called her, who came to our home to help. Eventually, she was diagnosed with Reflux and despite my gut telling me that it was not reflux causing her poor sleep and short, fractious breast feeds, I started her on Losec because I was desperate. Nothing changed.
She was then diagnosed with Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance so she came off the Losec and I came off dairy. The poor sleep continued. Around twelve months of age, we were given the all clear and back onto to dairy we both went. As she got older, in addition to her poor sleep, or maybe because of it, her behaviour started to deteriorate and she started to have difficulties with food textures and clothing.
What does this have to do with mashed potato, I hear you ask?
It’s all part of the journey.
When it came to solids she would eat a range of foods though always preferred her foods separated and had a strong preference for crunchy textures. She completely refused all roast or steamed vegetables and would never eat potato in any form, not even a hot chip. I was a speech pathologist, specialising in feeding difficulties, surely I could get my child to eat these vegetables.
So I started by offering her potato, in different forms, using the technique of regular exposure to a new food, in a stress-free meal environment. At age four, she had success with a shoestring fry, eating very small amounts of the extra crunchy ones and no others. I then used the technique know as Food Chaining, where you very slowly make changes to foods that you already eat. This meant that, in time, she went from eating only the super crunchy fries, to the less crunchy ones and finally onto a thicker hot chip.
Our little red head is now almost twelve – not so little anymore. She is funny and creative and loves dancing. She still does not eat mashed potato. She does eat hot chips and crispy roast potatoes and a range of other foods that she has learned to enjoy over the years.
We have both come to understand her sensory difficulties with texture and to accept that she is still on a journey with food. She may never eat mashed potato, that is not the point of the blog.
The point is to understand that lots of factors can impact feeding and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to treating feeding difficulties. There are a number of different techniques and approaches to expanding a child’s food repertoire and different approaches work for different families.
It is important to understand the different approaches available and to choose, in discussion with your speech pathologist, the approach that suits your family best.
Progress can be slow and steady or happen within a matter of weeks. Eating is a life long journey. What matters is that you are headed in the right direction, no matter how small the steps.