Jenna still receives all of her calories and nutrients through her “Dinosaur Juice” formula via her g-tube and Infinity pump. Since we switched her formula in April, she hasn’t taken anything by mouth (except – weirdly – popcorn and fruit smoothies, and even those she doesn’t eat much of). In spite of taking nothing orally, she’s gained weight wonderfully and done some fantastic catch-up growth. She now weighs 28 pounds, 3 ounces! Our next appointment in Boston will be next month, and we want to ask about the possibility of starting to give her less formula so that she gets a little hungry and is hopefully more motivated to eat. We’ll see what they say. What they’ve been watching are her stats on the Pediatric Weight-to-Height charts. Previously, she wasn’t even registering on the chart. Now, she’s solidly in the tenth percentile. I’m not sure what the docs’ criteria are for weaning. We are encouraged no matter what, because we have multiple friends with three-year-olds who aren’t that far off of Jenna’s stats, and no one is fretting about them “failing to thrive.” Specifically, Jenna has two friends who are almost exactly a year older than her who are the same height as Jenna and weigh 30 pounds. If you simply look at the Pediatric Weight for Age chart, Jenna’s now considered “average.” I know the doctors have to have some objective means of measuring and making decisions, but I also know that almost any mom will tell you that comparisons to those charts are frustrating and often discouraging. Sigh.
Yesterday, Hubby and I had a wonderful day away while my parents watched Jenna. Sometime during the day, I had a small epiphany. I think getting out of the house and away from the craziness cleared the fog that had settled in my brain. Anyway, I realized that the sticker and reward system we used for potty training worked so well with Jenna that there’s a good chance that it would work for eating behaviors as well. Especially since we’ve started backing off of stickers and prizes now that she’s got the hang of using the potty. She still asks for them and would LOVE to have another reason to earn some.
Our first goal is to get her off of her pump. This would be great in so many ways.
- Freedom from a backpack, pump and tubes in public = she looks like every other “normal” kid.
- No more worries about tangled or disconnected tubes during sleep times.
- Significant cost savings in tube and bag supplies.
- Easier to go out/travel with her without having to haul a pump and supplies.
Here’s what we’re going to do, starting tomorrow. When it’s time for her feeding in the morning (the one she does while watching a movie), I’ll put a small amount of chilled formula in a cup and present it to her with a straw, which she LOVES. If she drinks all of the that, she can get a sticker. If she does it twice, she can choose a prize. (Plan B will allow for the possibility that she totally resists drinking the first portion, and will shift to allowing a prize as soon as she finishes the first time). Each day, we’ll build from that by increasing the portion size by tiny increments and increasing the number of portions consumed that are required to get a prize. Our initial goal will be to get her to drink her 90 mL morning feeding relatively quickly (not having to sit still for one hour like she does with the pump) from a sippy cup. I think I’ll also incorporate the movie-watching as a reward, since that’s something she looks forward to every day (and we don’t have TV). I think we won’t start the movie until she drinks her small portion. Drinking will result in immediate movie privileges with a sticker and/or prize. Eventually, we’ll hopefully be able to say, “Drink your “Dinosaur Juice” and then you can watch your movie.”
I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I’m off to make another reward chart…..