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Backstory. . . .
When Jaxson was younger he had difficulty feeding. As mentioned in my first post I tried nursing with zero success, tried a nipple shield with zero success, and finally went to pumping exclusively. I pumped every two to three hours every single day for three straight months. Yes I probably could’ve kept going because I had great supply but in all honesty mentally I couldn’t handle it anymore. I pumped, I thickened and fortified his feeds, I paced his feeds, I tracked his feeds, and repeat.
Paced you may ask? Yes, when we were admitted to the Children’s Hospital in town they had us see a Feeding Therapist prior to being discharged. They had us pace, or allow Jaxson to suck five times, and take the bottle away from him in order for him to compose himself. We did that repeatedly until he was finished with his bottle, which could take up to hour. We were trying to prevent him from choking because he had difficulties swallowing, or better known as dysphagia. He also had risk of aspirating which meant that fluid was going into his lungs — he was admitted for pneumonia once.
In order to prevent aspiration they had us thickening his feeds on top of fortifying (I will explain fortifying in another post) his bottles.
Steps we took:
***PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR CHILD’S FEEDING THERAPIST OR HIS/HER MEDICAL PROVIDER PRIOR TO PURCHASING AND USING THICKENERS. I’M WRITING THIS AS A TUTORIAL ON HOW TO MIX THICKENERS AND PROVIDING INFORMATION ON WHAT TYPES OF THICKENERS ARE OUT ON THE MARKET***
***I AM NOT a Medical Professional and my experiences do NOT replace medical advice from a Feeding Therapist and/or Medical Professional.***
1. Picking the best bottle.
This one is tricky. You might have to spend a little money to find the perfect bottle for you warrior. We tried the Medela brand first because it was what we used with our oldest and it came with our pump. Needless to say it didn’t work, and we even tried purchasing the Special Needs nipple but no luck.
We then tried the Dr. Brown bottles and their Specialty Feeding bottles. Again, no luck. One day our friend’s mom was in town visiting and she recommended we try the MAM bottles because he did so well with the MAM binky. At last! We found a bottle that worked for him! I think he liked that the nipple on the bottle was flat, might’ve been easier for his small jaw and recessed chin to use.
*It will be a lot of trial and error but try to be patient.
2. Types of thickeners.
There are many different types of thickeners on the market and your provider may select one of these thickeners for your child. Our Pediatrician and Feeding Therapist wanted us to thicken Jaxson’s feeds with rice/oatmeal cereal to prevent aspiration and choking from dysphagia.
a. Simply Thick – Easy to use, great for travel.
b. Thick It – Easy to use, dissolves quickly.
c. Gelmix – Mix with warm milk/water.
d. Oatmeal – Easy to use, mixes well.
**AGAIN, I am NOT a Medical Professional and my experiences do NOT replace medical advice from a Feeding Therapist and/or Medical Professional.
3. How you mix thickeners into bottle.
***PLEASE SEEK MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL’S ADVICE FOR WHAT TYPE OF CONSISTENCY YOUR CHILD NEEDS***
As you can see it’s a lot of trial and error. Every child is different, what might work for one might not work for another. I’ve seen some children on the Coping with LM or DYRK1A support page take to Dr. Brown bottles or Tommee Tippee bottles. It all depends. I know it may get frustrating and you may get discouraged — don’t. I’m here to help and there are many other blogs, groups, and support pages out there to help. We are all in this together.
Do you have any other suggestions for parents trying to thicken their child’s feeds? Or would you like to share your story? Message me or comment below!