So it's been a little while since I've talked about Rohan's eating on here. I've shared little videos of him eating and drinking over on my Instagram stories, but thought it was time for a proper update.
I just checked back and my last post on the subject was nearly a whole year ago, so I guess now would be a fitting time for an update! So much has happened in a year with Rohan's feeding and weight too that I feel it's really important to document.
So since last year when Rohan had been weaned off his NG feeding tube and had began to take all of his feeds orally as well as us starting his weaning journey, things have been pretty up and down. The Winter cold season hit Rohan hard and his constant snottyness and vomiting became pretty bad. He ended up having two stays in hospital for the whole of February pretty much and he was dramatically underweight. We'd had his weight monitored closely before this, but in the process of moving and switching over his community care we sort of fell through the net a little bit and had a gap in care. He also became so poorly that we could see he'd lost a lot of weight looking back. At the time it's hard to notice as he was gradually losing weight, but it's such a shock to look back at photos of that time, and when he turned one to see how much he had lost.
I voiced my concerns regularly about his vomiting before this point, and his meds were upped a little bit for reflux but it didn't seem to help. Whilst he was in hospital both times he received little doses of IV feed to rehydrate him and this seemed to help him gain back a little weight which was a relief. But it got to March and a little while after our discharge and I was still really concerned about his sickness and slow weight gain. So after a few desperate phone calls to my GP and being passed around different Paediatrician receptionists, and after crying down the phone I finally got to speak to our new Paediatrician who prescribed a different reflux medicine. A week or two of this and we could already see the benefit and results. We also finally got to see a new dietician who prescribed a new, even higher calorie milk now that he was over one. I was so relieved, relieved that I had finally been listened to, and that finally Rohan seemed to be making real progress with his weight. Which has only continued to improve.
But during this time our weaning attempts obviously took a back seat as we concentrated on Rohan being able to keep his high calorie milk down. I think we still offered him puree, but there was no way we were going to try and introduce more solid food when he was having such a hard time of keeping liquid down. But eventually as his weight improved and he became stronger again we've start up our journey again.
We have seen a speech and language therapist too, and whilst I was concerned that Rohan was struggling with his gagging on lumps and bits that in fact if we looked at where he was developmentally he is at the right stage with his eating for that, just not his age. So that in a way was a relief to know that we could take things a little slower and not rush him. In that time though Rohan has shown us that he's ready to try new things and has pretty much mastered drinking from an open cup. I'm not sure how this happened but he would always reach out and lunge for our glasses of water on the table, so we let him try and soon enough he was lifting and tipping it correctly and drinking well. He still has a bottle for his milk, but will have a cup of water with his food. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it ends up tipped on the floor, but he's doing so well and loves it. In terms of food we're still very much in puree land, and whilst we got used to buying pouches for convenience (which he also can hold and suck the food out of himself) I don't want him to get dependent on them. We try as much as possible to feed him from a bowl at home and only offer him the pouch when we're out and about in his pushchair, but when sat at a table I feel it's important he tries to eat like us.
|We love these Babease vegetable pouches, and this Uki.be spoon and toothbrush|
He has done really well with self feeding with a spoon, and will pick up a loaded spoon and direct it to his mouth perfectly and then replace it in the bowl. I still have to load food on it for him but I'm so impressed by this. The food will go everywhere and the spoon and bowl will get dropped on the floor a few times, but we're getting there. Rohan has also really started to be interested in our food and feeding himself more finger foods. We're definitely still working on chewing, but I feel so much more confident to let him try and not so fearful of him emptying his stomach. It's definitely going to be a slow process, but he's learning to cough out just the lumps instead of being sick which is a big step in the right direction! Now he just needs to chew and swallow more.
When we first started weaning Rohan was in a special chair lent to us by the physio team, as he was too small for a highchair but still needed to be able to be supported to sit up. Eventually he was strong enough to support himself so we dug our old IKEA antilop (the cheap one everyone has!) highchair out of the loft and purchased a new cushion as he was still pretty little. This did us pretty well but it got to the point where we realised that Rohan needed a little more support, and room to grow (as he'll probably need to use the highchair for longer than average). On advice from our physio's Rohan also needed to have a footrest so that he can get used to having his feet flat when he's sitting, instead of his legs just dangling. So we went on the hunt for a longer lasting highchair, that would be supportive and that has a footrest, and we came across the Stokke Steps.
I've been a fan of Stokke from afar for a long while and have always admired the Tripp Trapp and its ability to transform and grow with the child, so they were the first port of call when we were looking for a new highchair. But as we researched a little more we found that the Steps actually suited our needs better. We went with this chair with the added extras of the baby set, tray and cushion. As Rohan is still small and not as strong we found that the design of the seat supported him more, with a taller back rest that is adjustable as the baby grows. We needed a chair with a tray too, as he has a tendency to reach and pull everything off the table onto the floor, so being able to have his own surface was really important.
Firstly we loved the look of the Steps, purely because it matched our existing chairs really well, and as the chair transforms I can see it still looking nice along with the rest of our furniture. I also like how easy it is to clean, as we're still very much in the messy stage of eating, and food tends to go everywhere. You can take the tray off really easily (something that always used to annoy me about the IKEA highchair is that the tray was difficult to get off) to clean, but it doesn't need to be removed to get Rohan in and out. The rest of the parts are easy to clean too, and even if necessary you can remove the 'baby set' to give it a proper deep clean.
The seat is big but enclosed with a great leg divider so I feel like Rohan is really safe in it, but it also has additional harnesses that go over the shoulder as well as around the waist (again the IKEA only has around the waist). The general feel of it is really sturdy and extremely well made, and if we ever had any more children I know that it would last for them too (or to pass on after we've finished with it!) We have the extra cushion for Rohan as we felt like he might need the extra padding, but actually it looks and would function just as well without it.
The footrest has been great too, and I like that you can adjust the height as he gets taller, and still use it once the baby set has been removed. I hope that encouraging him to put his feet flatter and to be able to feel a flat surface has helped him to be stronger and more confident when he's weight bearing on his legs when standing by furniture. It's all in the plan to get him stronger and eventually standing and walking.
So for us, we needed a highchair that met quite specific needs, which I really felt that the Steps has met. I'm looking forward to seeing how it holds up as Rohan gets older and bigger, but for now it's been a great chair for us and Rohan's additional needs.
We received the Stokke highchair for review purposes, but all words, thoughts and images are my own.