I took my 6 month old to a speech pathologist
* This post is sponsored by Health Insurance Comparison
No, I’m not that mother. I wasn’t worried that my baby wouldn’t keep up with the other babies in his playgroup because he wasn’t speaking by 6 months of age.
I took him to a speech pathologist on the advice of our paediatrician, because he had a hypersensitive gag reflex, and we were having real trouble weaning him onto solids.
I’d done Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with his big sister, and she was sitting up eating steak, broccoli and pasta by the time she was 6.5 months old. It was brilliant – we bypassed all the purees and just went straight to the good stuff! She loved it and, apart from the mess, it was much easier for me because I could just give her bits of what I was eating.
So when it came time to start weaning the Stuntman onto solids I figured he’d take to it with a similar enthusiasm, and we’d all be on our merry ways, eating roast dinners as a family before I knew it.
Except he didn’t.
Every bit of food I offered him made him gag to the point of vomiting. The super ripe pear and delicious sweet potato chips that Little Miss had devoured became the stuff of nightmares as they were regurgitated back at me, with great force.
At first I wondered if perhaps this BLW thing just wasn’t for him, so I took it right back to almost liquid purees, but he still kept gagging and retching. Just putting the spoon in his mouth was making him heave.
We went off to see our paediatrician to try and figure out what was going on, who suggested that it was connected either to the Stuntman’s food intolerances, or his lip and tongue tie issues (which we’d had snipped, but still caused some problems). The Dr’s main thought was that after projectile vomiting several times a day for the first 5 months of his life (from cow’s milk and soy protein intolerance), the little guy’s gag reflex was so sensitive that anything that hit anywhere past the middle of his tongue triggered it, and caused everything to come tumbling back out of his mouth in a massive power chuck.
Vomit and I were more than passing acquaintances in those first few months of my little man’s life.
Our paed was concerned about him developing food aversions due to the constant gagging and throwing up, which is why we were sent off to see the speech pathologist. In my limited experience with speech pathologists (i.e. going to one when I was a pre-schooler with a bit of a lisp), I thought that speech pathologists were just concerned with, well, speech.
But as well as helping people who have difficulty speaking, they also work with people of all ages who experience difficulties swallowing, or with oral sensitivities, like my little guy.
I almost hurled myself when I learnt that the cost of the initial consultation was around $190, with follow up sessions $130 each, but I was quickly relieved to find that our private health insurance would cover about 75% of the first visit, and 50% for follow ups. I wasn’t working at the time, so we just wouldn’t have been able to afford it without the health insurance covering some of the cost.
Having a baby with any kind of medical issue can be a huge drain on your bank account so it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got the best health insurance package for your family. Health Insurance Comparison can compare a range of private health insurance options that might suit your family, and find you the best deal available.
At our initial visit with the speech pathologist she worked with the baby Stuntman using a range of props to try and desensitise his mouth and tongue area. She started off using larger teething toys, and encouraged him to have a good old chew on them, and tried to get him to put the toys deeper into his mouth. She then moved onto longer and thinner teething toys, and manipulated them so that they slipped down the side of his mouth, towards the back of his tongue.
We had a few barf triggers, and the splash mat she’d placed strategically underneath his highchair came into use more than once! But by the end of the one hour session the Stuntman was able to tolerate the end of a toothbrush in his mouth, placed down the side of his cheek and moved around his tongue without being sick (he was still gagging, but just not to the point of chundering!).
We left under instructions to practice these ‘mouthing techniques’ several times a day, and to purchase a thin electric toothbrush for him to play with, to try and desensitise his mouth even more. After a couple of weeks of the exercises, and three more sessions with the speech pathologist, I was beyond excited when the Stuntman managed to eat his first bowl of puree without puking.
Money well spent.
He progressed rapidly from the purees onto finger foods, and in less than a month he was eating steak and broccoli trees just like his sister had, with no hint of any of the dramas we’d gone through.
Have you experienced any feeding issues with your kids? How many synonyms for vomiting do you know??