Davis had his feeding evaluation appointment yesterday morning. I had no idea what to expect at the appointment. It was a very long day but in the end I feel encouraged and more confident that this stage for Davis is temporary. His appointment was at 8am at Scottish Rite (a hours drive from home). We got up really early and headed out. My mom met me there to pick up Lily so that I could focus on Davis' evaluation. The therapist (specifically a speech therapist) watched Davis for a few minutes and interacted with him a little so he would get used to her. Then we started his breakfast solid feeding. The therapist actually did the feeding. The evaluation lasted about an hour and a half with her feeding him normally and then trying different techniques to see if they helped Davis swallow more. Davis' main problems are that he seems to have a hard time realizing that he needs to swallow, almost as if he doesn't really recognize that there is food in his mouth. He also doesn't use his tongue very well to push the food back in the mouth to swallow it. He also doesn't really seem hungry enough to put the energy in to eat. Something I didn't even realize is that Davis takes the bottle extremely slow. The therapist pointed out that he is having to work really hard to get his milk and that may be causing some frustration as well. She also noticed that Davis doesn't seem to register hunger pains very much and is able to ignore them more than other babies. She thinks that he has some nerve/sensory issues in his mouth where basically his nerves aren't telling his brain that there is food in his mouth which he needs to swallow so he just holds it there. So those are a lot of the problems, what are the solutions?
Well, the therapist said that Davis is basically borderline as to whether he needs therapy or not. So we are going to do a month of strategies at home to see if he improves and progresses and if he doesn't we will then get him started in therapy. Some of the strategies that she has me doing are the following:
1) Pigeon bottle (this is a bottle made in Japan that is often used for babies with a cleft palate.
Since Davis has a hard time making a seal to suck as well as possible low muscle tone to suck efficiently this bottle will help him get milk easier)
2) z-vibe spoon (help develop his nerves and senses in his mouth to recognize food and then to practice swallowing better) This spoon is basically a spoon tip attached to a wand that vibrates that tells the nerves in Davis' mouth to respond and "wake up."
3) Texture and Flavor (offering more texture and flavored foods to do the same thing mentioned above). The therapist said that a lot of times baby food is super bland and some babies that need more oral stimulation need stronger flavors and varying textures to help the nerves recognize the food.
4) Offering more finger foods that are don't come apart easily to promote chewing and oral stimulation but without the risk of gagging or choking.
So, we will be trying these things for the next month in hopes that Davis improves with his eating. He is way too active to not be getting more and more calories during a feed so I want to do anything and everything to help him be as successful as possible and for it not to be traumatizing. Thank you everyone for your prayers for his appointment yesterday. Please continue to pray for Davis that he would progress in his eating between now and next month so as to avoid having to start Davis in therapy.