Learning to Eat

I didn’t realize how many things go into eating. I learned today that one must suck, use muscles in the tongue and soft palate and throat, and one must coordinate all of these muscles while continuing to breath. I do these things naturally, Kymee does not.

With her cleft palate, she has not learned to
suck properly, she has a special bottle – the Haberman Feeder – which she moves her jaw and gums the nibble to express the formula. She chokes easily and often looses her breath while eating – which sends her into a screaming fit, making it impossible for her to continue eating. Sometimes, she acts like she wants the bottle, but then simply holds the liquid in her mouth and doesn’t swallow. Eventually, the nasty smelling formula drizzles out her mouth and onto her chin and me – or it drips out her nose. Even when everything is going well, and she is gumming and swallowing, the formula often squirts out her nose (to her big brother’s horror). But that’s life when there is nothing but a hole between your mouth and your nostrils.
Cleft Palate Repa
ir surgery is set for April 13. The surgeon wants Kymee to be fat and healthy, and drinking solely from a cup – and not a sippy cup. So after Christmas we are to start solid foods – can’t wait to see those peas coming out her nose. And we are to start her drinking clear liquids.
Some interesting things I learned:
1) Teaching a baby to eat is about texture, taste, and muscle control
2) I always thought cereal was just filler – with very limited nutritional value – it is – but it has a purpose. It is tasteless, so when mixed with formula or breast-milk, it takes on that flavor. So, a baby only has to get used to a new texture and not texture and taste at the same time.
Steps to achieving Goal:
1) We are to encourage Kymee to play with her food. Put her fingers in the food she’ll eat & encourage her to lick and suck them. If a baby acquires the texture of food on her hands, she is more likely to accept it in her mouth. – How cool is that!
2) We should use various methods of getting food into Kymee’s mouth. Her fingers, our fingers, different sizes and materials of spoons, spoon the food into the mouth not just in the middle – but from different angles, and dip a favorite

toy in the food and let her lick it off. ~ No need to worry about manners!

3) Kymee must sit upright, and not recline – so gravity can help with the work.
4) As far as cup training, we’ll start with a straw. She won’t suck it, but rather we are to gather the liquid into the straw, holding our finger over the end (just like I used to do when I was little – and get in trouble for) then drop it into the back of her mouth so she is forced to swallow.
Can’t wait for the fun to begin – Who wants to come over for lunch?

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