Elliot was born a perfect little boy. I was lucky enough that I was able to produce lots of breastmilk, and it felt really good to be able to raise Elliot on 100% breastmilk for the first few months of his life. I pumped and bottle fed him about 75% of the time, and nursed the rest of the time.
I pumped so that Elliot’s dad could be more involved in his feedings, so that family could come babysit and give me a little break, and also because nursing wasn’t this magical thing that everyone made it out to be. It hurt. A lot. Like, toe-curling pain when Elliot latched on. The pain went away as he got a little bigger, but there was still lots of tenderness. It’s bound to happen when someone is sucking on a sensitive part of your body for hours.
I wanted to keep my milk supply as high as possible so I pumped several times a day. I was even able to freeze and store lots of breastmilk!
Introducing Solid Food
I have a food blog where I post lots of recipes, so I am pretty obsessed with food. I could not wait to introduce Elliot to solid foods! I had a plan for making a video of every time he tried a new food. I was sure he was going to love food since I made sure to eat a wide variety of foods, flavors, and spices when I was pregnant and while I was nursing.
Right around 6 months we started trying to give Elliot solid food. He was ready for it. He was always watching us eat, following the fork with his eyes, opening his mouth when I opened my mouth. This was going to be so fun!!!
Here is Elliot, either trying to eat my face or to give me kisses.
But our baby refused solid food.
So yea, it felt a little disappointing when he did not want to try any of the usual first foods: applesauce, mashed banana, mashed avocado, baby cereals. He turned his nose up at all of these.
For the next few months we kept trying to feed Elliot baby food purees, and he would eat them, sometimes. Sometimes he enjoyed them, sometimes not so much. Sometimes he threw up afterwards, though we didn’t think much of it at the time. We figured that his little body is still learning how to digest food, and it will get better.
We introduced Puffs and after lots of gagging he finally started liking them.
Around 10 months we introduced Cheerios and he loved them.
At 11 months, we gave him pasta and rice and he seemed to be into both!
At one point, he was even loving avocado and fish.
Failure to Thrive
This all sounds great, right? Well during all this time, Elliot had trouble gaining weight. He’s been hovering around 16 pounds from 7 months until his first birthday and he completely fell off the growth chart for weight. This is because he was not eating substantial enough amounts of food, and not drinking more breastmilk to compensate.
On a good day, he would eat 1 container of baby food. Other times, it took him 2-3 days to get through 1 container, or to get through a quarter cup of cooked rice.
Around Elliot’s first birthday, we started working with a gastroenterologist (GI) to see if there is an underlying medical issue causing him to not eat.
Long story short, there wasn’t anything conclusive that we found out from the GI. Elliot had some reflux and a bit of irritation in his stomach, but nothing to worry about. This was good news, but also made me realize that there isn’t an easy solution to Elliot’s eating problems.
Two steps forward…
For the next few months I really focused on stuffing Elliot with as many calories as I could. I made my own baby food and add canola oil and oatmeal for extra calories. I gave Elliot a bottle of milk in his sleep when I knew he would be too sleepy to refuse it. We put on cartoons during mealtimes so he would be distracted and would eat a whole meal in one sitting.
And it worked! Elliot gained 3 pounds in 3 months. We were almost back on the growth chart!
One step back…
But then suddenly he stopped eating again. There were days where he literally would not eat more than 10 cheerios in a whole day. Some days he drank lots of milk to compensate (though still not getting enough calories per day). Some days he did not.
And that’s when things got really stressful and we decided to find new resources and strategies to help with Elliot’s eating because what we were doing was not working.
We started this blog as an outlet to document our daily struggles, celebrate our small mealtime victories, write about what works and what doesn’t work for our picky eater, and hopefully show other parents that they are not alone in this.
Stay tuned for updates about how Elliot is doing, as well as more detailed posts about his reflux, GI workup, food allergies, preferred foods, food therapy, and picky eating classes.
What’s your picky eating story? Where in the picky eating journey are you currently? I’d love to read about it in a comment below, or you can also join our Facebook group where you will find like-minded parents. It feels good to know there are others who understand exactly what you are going through.