{feeding tools}

If you read my feeding journey with Bernadette, you may be wondering what tools really helped both her and I to get her from being 100% tube fed to 100% fed by mouth. I want to share some of those things that worked for us. And also remind you that I am not a medical professional. If you need help with feeding issues, please talk your doctors. And do not attempt a tube wean without professional advice. I talked daily with our pediatrician and dietician during the tube wean for weeks, checking on progress with calories in and weight gain. Bernadette had many eyes on her to make sure that was not getting dehydrated or rmalnurousied in any way.

From the beginning, Bernadette was approved for weekly feeding therapy. The early days of feeding therapy were so difficult when she had the ng tube in. She refused to take any milk by mouth and often would push it out and dribble all over herself.

Her feeding therapist primarily worked on strengthening exercises and getting her mouth used to having something in it. Bernadette was showing signs of oral aversions which isn’t a great place to be in. Some kids have a hard time overcoming food or oral aversions. The feeding therapist would patiently work with various tools to get her used to that.

A couple of tools that seemed to work best for Bernadette were:

The z vibe

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This is a great tool for getting kids used to texture and movement in their mouth. It is battery operated and has different tops you can buy for it with different textures. They even make a spoon attachment. This helped to wake up Bernadette’s mouth. I would turn it on and move it in various motions around her mouth. If she wasn’t into it, I stopped. I did not want to create any other type of aversion. I did end up buying the mini attachment because when I started using the z vibe, her mouth was tiny and the mini fit better inside her little mouth.

I bought a couple of different teethers for her to try, but this one seemed to be one of her favorites. It had texture and a ring for her to grasp once she was able to.

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We tried a few different teething ring type things, but did not have much success until she was older. When she was closer to a year, she started liking this banana toothbrush.

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This is not the exact one that I have for her, but it is very similar. I like this one better because of the handles it has. It gives them something to grip onto and with smaller hands it would be much easier for them to hold.

I went through so many bottles to find the perfect one.

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I love these life factory bottles and they are not the first ones we tried. We went through a ton. We did have some initial success with the Dr. Bronners bottles but ultimately, I had bought a bunch of these before she was born and was happy when she finally started drinking out it. There are so many great blogs that talk about which bottles to try. I read them all and spent a small fortune on bottles. In the end, after months of trying, she landed on the original ones I bought and still uses this for her nighttime bottle before bed.

When I first solids with Bernadette, I focused on purees. I found this maroon spoon to be incredibly helpful.

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The maroon spoon has really helped in Bernadette’s success of eating purees. It’s shallow and perfect for helping to train the tongue where to be while eating.

My last biggest tip for this post is:

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Cutout cups! They are flexible so you can bend them into the perfect pour shape into baby’s mouth. And, thank you to the wonderful mama on Instagram that gave me the biggest tip to thicken her milk into a smoothie has been wonderful! This cup plus the smoothie have really been life changing! Bernadette takes her daily milk intake in such a flash now, something I didn’t think was ever going to happen.

The smoothie recipe I use for Bernadette is super easy. I make it once in the morning and divide up throughout the day. For breakfast, she eats whatever solids she’s going to eat, mostly a yogurt mix and then finishes up with smoothie. She will take some more with snack and lunch and then anything thats left after nap.

For the day:

16 ounces of Ripple milk

half of a small banana

a small spoonful of almond milk

That’s it! Blend it up, throw it into some mason jars and use it throughout the day.

I am so thankful for how far she has come. It has taken so much patience and persistence, but it is worth it I promise! And keep in mind that not everyone’s feeding journey is the same! It’s hard work, and very strenuous and it can also be very isolating! Hang in there mamas!

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