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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why this Dirty Oatmeal Dish Made My Morning

If you're thinking Seriously? Ew. Why would anyone open up a blog post with a photo of a dirty dish?? then, please bear with me! And, um, go ahead and scroll down so you don't have to look at it any more :)

That nearly-finished oatmeal bowl was a very happy sight for me because it wasn't my nearly-finished oatmeal or Calvin's nearly-finished oatmeal... it was Henry's! Henry ate almost a whole bowl of oatmeal for breakfast! Minus the dried blueberries. Not ready for those yet.

Here's why Henry's nearly-finished oatmeal bowl is a big deal. At 17 months old, Henry's diet is still primarily formula and purees. This would be a typical diet for, like, a 6-month-old. Typical kids Henry's age can eat a wide variety of table foods - they can generally eat what the rest of the family eats. Calvin could at that age (although he wouldn't, picky-eater that he is...). I realize that given Henry's medical and developmental history of course he doesn't eat like a typical kid his age. But it is so exciting and such a huge relief to see him make progress!

We've been working with a feeding therapist since April of this year. In the spring, he progressed from plain purees to thicker purees, to being able to eat purees with cracker crumbs sprinkled on top. From there, I tried feeding him more textured foods that were still similar to puree: things like couscous in tomato sauce, rice in thick soup, and oatmeal. But when offered those kinds of foods that had little particles unlike a smooth puree, he kind of panicked and hated it because he just couldn't seem to move those little pieces to the back of his mouth to swallow a bite. His oral motor skills couldn't deal with those textures yet. So I backed off.

And then he had his surgery. 

Immediately following his surgery he took few steps back to really thin purees until he was fully recovered. But since mid-November, he's been making much faster progress! His feeding therapist feels that his breathing difficulties before the surgery were making it uncomfortable for him to eat - totally understandable! - and this was keeping him from developing his oral motor skills. Now, with his airways opened up, he has progressed to thick purees and even pieces of very soft foods. We started with cubes of banana and avocado, which would essentially mush into a puree in his mouth. But this week he was even able to eat small pieces of pasta! Rotini pasta!

So Tuesday morning I went for it with the oatmeal. I was like, Ok, Henry. It's time to try this again. You're gonna do great. You're a much better eater. You ate rotini pasta. You eat guacamole. You can eat oatmeal.

And he did!!! He ate almost a whole bowl of instant blueberry oatmeal - minus the blueberries :)



I realize that oatmeal is not actually a huge deal when it comes to developing oral motor skills... even for Henry. But the oral motor development part is not the only reason I am excited about him eating oatmeal. Here's the other thing...

Oatmeal is big people food.  It's a "table food" as I've heard our docs and therapists and nutritionists call foods that are not specifically for babies. And the more table foods that Henry can eat, the fewer batches of fruit and veggie purees I have to blend up! The fewer jars and squeeze packs of organic baby food I will need to buy! The more foods he can share with the rest of the family! The fewer foods I will have to prepare for a single meal! We can all eat oatmeal for breakfast!! Hallelujah!

So here's to that dirty oatmeal dish. I washed it with pride.

If only all our dirty dishes were that exciting to me! Ha!

What did your kids do this week that made you say "Hooray!" ?

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