There’s no doubt that Brenna’s tube wean has been a huge success, and that eating has become a bit of her love language. I think half of our conversations revolve around what she’s going to eat that day, and she’ll wake up asking what’s for dinner that night.
However, we hit age three, and picky came into play.
I could name at least a dozen different types of foods off the top of my head this very second that she loves and eats with no hesitation. But when it came to dinner time, the battle field would open up.
Or this:“I can’t believe they’re trying to make me eat GRILLED CHEESE.”
Dinner time usually ended much too quickly because of fighting and frustration – and we would be left with trying to figure out if we should stand our ground (after all, we need to develop positive eating habits, treat our kids both the same, and let Brenna know that she doesn’t get special eating treatment) or if we should give (after all, she needs to eat, much more so than the average child because her body uses so many calories to make extra skin).
So we called in our feeding therapist that graduated us 6 months ago for back-up.
And she helped us develop an awesome dinner-time strategy using “reward food.” One bite of dinner means Brenna gets one bite of her preferred food.
So now, we typically have a small bowl of summer sausage joining us at the dinner table. Brenna gets to choose her bite of dinner – usually one of 3-4 different options – and once she’s eaten that bite, she can have one bite of summer sausage. Once she decides she’s done with dinner, the “reward food” goes away too.
(Then at the very end, she can also choose to drink a high-calorie drink like Boost or Pediasure – which she will usually drink about half. It makes us feel better because it’s not her preferred choice, but she likes it and it adds a lot more calories on.)
One bite she has to have = one bite she wants to have.
This new strategy has turned our dinner time around! I won’t say that Brenna is gobbling up everything I place in front of her, but she’s eating SO much more than she ever has at dinner. The other night she polished off her applesauce and had some bites of chicken pot pie – which never would have happened prior to using “reward food.”
Our feeding therapist also suggested that for new foods, a quarter-sized serving size is appropriate for Brenna as a three-year-old… so I also now feel like her plate is less full and it looks less intimidating. Another good strategy.
She may not be as happy as when she gets chicken nuggets, but there is much more peace at the dinner table! And since we’ve also been using it with Connor, we’ve seen better dinner habits and manners developing. They are less likely to whine, complain or exhibit rude behavior, and they are trying more and different foods. It’s a total win!
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