After being away for over a year from Health Central, I thought I need to come back and update the status of my sleep feeder baby. Avin is no longer a baby and he is no longer a sleep feeder; he is now a 2 year old toddler who had graduated to eating table foods; rice, veggies, fruits, crackers, toast, yogurt etc. We had stopped his Prevacid (Lansoprazole) briefly, but had to start it again after he began vomiting. He had barely begun to eat solids (boiled rice cereal with water) and the doctor/therapists did not want him to get terrified due to the vomiting. Prevacid does not actually stop vomiting but the discomfort goes away and my son began eating his liquidy-rice-cereal with pureed solids (carrots, squash, peas, lentils, chicken and rice, turkey and rice, chicken and vegetables, turkey and vegetables etc). Sweet potatoes, potatoes, puddings, Oatmeal, Macaroni and cheese never really agreed with him and we did not force it on him either. So here is what I learned from other reflux moms, therapist, doctors and my own experience: Tip 1:How to begin solids for a sleep-feeder? Allow the child to guide you and respect her/his dislikes for some solids. Respect when they indicate that they are full and always pause if/when they gag. Do very small quantities (1 to 2 oz) in the beginning and gradually (in 2 to 4 months they will eat almost a small bowl full of solids 3 or 4 times a day). If the child is gassy, refluxes more than usual, or has break-outs do not feed those solids again; later you may choose to have an allergy test done. Feed the child his solids in a walker (not bouncer) so that her/his torso is not slouched or slumped. If there is gagging give some liquid wash (plain water to drink), a sip of plain water helps them swallow their food. Sometimes raising their arms over their heads helps them straighten their upper body and the food goes down effortlessly. This is normal for a baby who has slight underdeveloped or slow esophageal motility which doctors/therapists believe is a cause of regurgitation and/or reflux. The condition is not permanent and within a few months your baby will sit in high chair/normal chair and eat.
Avin's sleep feeding with formula/milk had continued well into his 2nd year. We had asked our insurance company for approving extensive, at-home feeding therapy when he was 14 months old and they denied. We went to a local therapist and paid out of pocket but after first few visits, I realized that the therapist did not have anything new to offer. Besides, she never really "fed" him there, just gave us tips. Things were hard and I would be perpetually tired, 24/7 I thought about my baby's problems and worried. To add to my worries people around me told me that his texture issues, inability to swallow could be linked to more serious conditions, metabolic disorders, structural abnormalities and even neurological defects. Although, in my heart I knew that my little boy was neurologically healthy and had no structural problems-such excessive information is always unsettling and can distract you from your goal: finding the right solution to your child's feeding problem. I cut off almost all my social contacts but stayed in touch with few other moms whom I had met on health central. However, I also got help and went to a therapist. Speaking helped and fortunately my therapist had a child with similar issues. She convinced me to follow my instincts and keep fighting to get help for the baby. Tip 2: How to deal with frustrations of sleep feeding? My friends (other sleep-feeder moms) and I learned two things- 1. Take a break: Ask parents/relatives/friends for help. If someone can give you some company and perhaps do the cooking and basic chores for you at home, you can continue to remain sane during sleep-feeding, doctor's visits, therapist visits, and during solids transition. 2. Speak with a therapist for yourself and get help. It is normal to feel low and depressed. It is perfectly normal to be mad at the father of the child who might have a busy working schedule but don't lose it and never force feed your child because you are frustrated. Just get help-it's ok.