Our baby girl was born a healthy 3.5kg and she was always a bit fussy on the bottle but nothing too worrying. She never drank the recommended amount of formula for her weight but her weight gain was fine. Then, at around 3-4months she started to refuse the odd feed and would scream/cry when I persisted. I would reheat the bottle and try again and the feeds would drag on for an hour until I was forced to throw out the contents. When she would refuse a feed I would try again with a fresh bottle an hour or two later thinking she must be starving by now. We could not feed her in public anymore as her screams of refusal would be blood curdling.
At just over 4 months she started refusing to drink when she was awake altogether and we became terribly stressed. The doctors thought it might be silent reflux (she never regurgitated milk) so we started her on Losec and Zantac. After a 24 hour period where we could only get 100ml into her, we did a 4 day stint in hospital where she was observed but would still not drink a drop for anyone when awake. She would only drink when we put the bottle into her mouth while she slept in the cot. We thought we would have to resort to tube feeding her because of her low milk intake and the stress of trying to feed her when she was asleep had become all consuming. She had lost about 200g and the dietician recommended fortifying her milk. However when the paediatrician explained the negative repercussions of tube feeding (i.e. losing the swallowing and sucking ability, not taking to solids, difficulty in getting her off the tube later on etc) we held off and kept dream feeding her whenever we could. There were many failed attempts when she would wake and scream/cry. We also have 2 year old twins and trying to keep them quiet so they didn't wake the baby and ruin a "dream feed", was hugely stressful. We then went to Tresillian Centre and she sucked a tiny bit when awake for a few feeds but it was still a battle involving much crying.
We came home and were still living on eggshells where she took most of her milk at night. She wasn't sleeping well (we think because she was hungry) and if she was too awake she wouldn't drink so we would often have to resettle her, wait until she was asleep and try again. We were living on 3-4 hours sleep a night and it felt as though it was a huge struggle to keep her hydrated let alone gain any weight. This was exhausting and it was also cutting into her sleep. I had never been so stressed in my life. We realised at this point (when she was just over 5 months) that she was good at taking solids, specifically vegies, but she still took no milk when awake.
I stumbled across Rowena's website when I was trawling the internet looking for any information that may help. The testimonials on bottle aversion sounded very much like what we were experiencing, especially Ruth from the USA, and the website clearly explained how to differentiate between pain and an aversion. It was then we realised that our little girl probably did not have reflux at all but a behavioural issue. We were desperate to do anything to get her drinking so we contacted Rowena and completed the questionnaire. We then spoke to Rowena and had faith straight away that she knew what she was talking about and could help us. After we implemented her recommended strategy our baby started drinking the second day when awake and then her volumes increased during the day throughout the week. Happiness and amazement!! We weaned her off the reflux meds, our stress levels plummeted and we started getting so much more sleep. We are extremely grateful to Rowena as she solved a problem with a strategy that made so much sense and no one else had ever suggested. Bottle aversion is hell on earth so we suggest getting in touch with Rowena if you are experiencing similar issues.
Harry was born a bigger baby and had some fussy feeding behaviours from the outset. He was diagnosed by a doctor at 5 weeks with Silent Reflux and prescribed various medications for this. At 12 weeks Harry's fussy feeding behaviours really exacerbated. He drank less and less milk despite showing hunger signs, he would cry and fuss during all day feeds, arch his back, turn his head away, hit the bottle, kick, would not latch onto the bottle, only feed when drowsy and refuse some feeds all together. After a month of this behaviour I took Harry back to a doctor seeking answers for his fussiness only to have my concerns dismissed due to that fact he had still continued to put on weight, albeit minimal, and he still charted in a higher range for his weight growth . A month later Harry was seen by a Paediatrician who suggested he may have been lactose intolerant or suffered from Silent Reflux and recommended trialling different treatments, none of which resolved Harry's feeding issues. I was given lots of differing advice from the various health professionals I had sought assistance from, none of which proved helpful.
I had nearly settled for the fact that Harry was always going to be a fussy feeder and this was his norm but I never felt entirely convinced that his feeding issues were due to a medical reason. I then came across Rowena's website, read her article about bottle aversion and read the testimonials and knew I had to contact her about Harry's situation. Rowena responded to me promptly and even though she was on an overseas holiday at the time, Rowena generously offered me a consultation and following this she provided me with daily ongoing support all whilst she was on holidays!
Rowena's assessment process was extremely thorough and her explanation and reasoning for why she considered Harry's feeding aversion to be behavioural was well informed and exactly right! I finally felt that someone actually knew this time what was happening for Harry and how to fix it. Rowena's child focused recommendations, knowing she could be there for every step of the journey and her confidence that Harry's feeding aversion was resolvable relieved a huge amount of worry and stress I had been experiencing for several months.
Changes in Harry's feeding was evident after only a few days of implementing Rowena's recommendations and every day thereafter he progressed in someway and after approximately 10 days Harry really showed consistent progress in terms of his milk intake and the level of fussy feeding behaviours he displayed. Harry now shows excitement at feed time, he waits with a wide open mouth for the bottle, he is quite relaxed throughout the feed and often finishes an entire feed. He also no longer takes any medication for reflux (and probably never needed this in the first place). I am so thankful for Rowena's expertise and the service she provided, she is the only person to have had the right solution and that really worked in such a short time! I have no hesitation in recommending Rowena's service to anyone and would very readily call on her support again for any baby care issue.
Joseph was born at full term but with congenital heart disease. From the first day he was born a feeding tube was inserted in his nose, to ensure he got maximum amount of calories to prepare him for his open heart surgery. Also due to his heart condition he found feeding tiring and although would start enthusiastically he would run out of steam after only about a third of a bottle on average. Due to complications arising from his heart condition, Joseph had a prolonged stay in intensive care and was ventilated for 5 weeks. In total he spent nearly 4 1/2 months in hospital had 3 operations, 2 of which were open heart surgery.
After Joseph left intensive care he had to learn how to feed again. He slowly picked this up and by the time we finally left hospital he was able to take 10-20mls milk in a bottle and the rest was put down his feeding tube. Over the next 3 weeks we worked on Joseph's feeding and he progressed well and was taking up to 45mls in a bottle. Then one day he started to get upset when we offered him the bottle and he started to refuse to feed from the bottle completely. It got to a point where we could only get him to take the bottle if he was asleep, and we could also only tube feed him asleep as he would quite often be sick if he was tube fed awake. Joseph was taking all his milk asleep and our routine was getting crazier and crazier. We would have to rock him to sleep to feed him, sometimes he would wake up with the bottle in his mouth and get very distressed and because of all this I only liked to feed him at home and it meant we could only leave the house for a couple of hours at a time.
Our local hospital nurses and speech therapists were not overly helpful. We were told to persevere with baby rice and sleep feeds and he would eventually take enough not to need tube top ups, although there was talk about a possible operation to have a tube out in his tummy if he didn't.
I was randomly googling oral aversion one day not really looking for anything but having convinced myself this might be Joseph's issue I wanted to read some definitions on it. It was then I discovered an article written by Rowena on feeding aversion. I was in tears by the end of the article as it sounded so similar to what we were going through with Joseph. I then realised Rowena did some consultancy work and thought what had we got to lose by contacting her.
Rowena was very quick coming back to me when I contacted her, she sent us a detailed questionnaire to fill in and then we had a skype consultation where she said she felt she could help Joseph and outlined her plan to us. We decided to implements the plan a few days later and also asked if we could use Rowena's follow up service as I was feeling nervous and wanted the extra support. Amazingly the first day we implemented the plan Joseph started taking the bottle and from that day on we have not had to give him any tube top ups. By day 5 he was taking enough calories to not need the tube again. He now cries for food at night which he has never done and gets very excited when he sees the bottle during the day. He could probably be taking slightly more milk but I think this will come, more importantly he is happy, looks well and enjoys feeding which I could not believe was possible when we started this process. We cannot thank Rowena enough as she really has changed our life!
Our daughter B was born about 10 weeks premature. She was in NICU for about 90 days. During her stay in NICU, she was tube fed through a nasal gastric (NG) tube and was gaining weight at appropriate levels. We were feeding her using a combination of NG tube and feeding bottle. Feeding was the least of her problems. Within a couple of days of coming home, B started developing an aversion to milk. Initially, we suspected that it was due to lactose intolerance and got it checked. Our weekly visits to the pediatrician was fraught with anxiety and fear. On one hand, the pediatrician was pushing us to feed whatever it takes for our daughter to gain weight. On the other hand, we were struggling as our daughter refused to even bring her mouth anywhere close to the bottle. We started force feeding her following our pediatrician’s inputs. On top of it, B had a bad case of reflux resulting in her throwing up more than 60% of what her intake was. She was already on Prilosec and Zantac. The only time, we would get to feed her was when she would go to sleep and would offer the least bit of resistance to our attempt to feed her. To this end, we used to put her in the car seat and drive around for an hour or so. We were exhausted and had consulted her pediatrician, developmental pediatrician, speech therapist and gastro intestine (GI) specialist. The speech therapist taught us several techniques and had seen B since her birth. The GI specialist had prescribed an increased dose of Zantac and Prilosec. While each of these actions had some effect in controlling her acid reflux and in reducing the stress in feeding, we had given up hope that B would ever feed like “normal” kids and would gain weight.
Out of sheer desperation, we started googling and came across Rowena’s website. We read through the testimonials that others had written and discovered that there were parents who went through what we were going through. We contacted Rowena. The first thing we did was to thoroughly answer the 100 questions that Rowena had sent us. She was accommodative to squeeze us for a consult before she left on vacation the following day. Our first impression was that Rowena was thorough, listened carefully to our problem and logically explained every one of the symptoms that we faced with B. Then she offered us that she would work with us till our daughter started feeding normally. There was no pressure or a decision to make on the spot. But, we made a decision to trust our instincts and go with Rowena. Rowena worked with us via email. She gave us clear advice to each of our observations. We communicated every bit to her. Her sincerity has to be applauded that she would respond to us multiple times even during her vacation. We felt like a mentor guiding us in every step of the way and that gave us immense confidence.
We saw only a marginal improvement by Day 3. But, from the Day 4, the improvements in B’s feeds were visible. She had started taking the bottle while awake with minimal to no resistance. She had turned a corner. The difference was as clear as black and white. Both us and our daughter were happy and much less stressful about the feeding episodes. There was no more driving around or putting B to sleep and no more anxiety to meet the “quota” for her feed. It has now been well over a month. The therapy and the method still works.
What a relief! We are thankful and grateful to Rowena. We would highly recommend her to anyone who is going through this oral aversion/ feeding issues. We have also given her name to our pediatrician to pass it on to other parents who might be going through a similar issue.
My son, Andrew, has always been difficult to feed (unless asleep). He entered the world a little early at 36 weeks, but weighed a healthy 6 pounds. I noticed he had trouble breathing and eating at the same time. If he choked, it was nearly impossible to get him to latch back on. It would typically take me 45 minutes to an hour to feed him. By the time I would finally get him to eat, there would be milk everywhere and I was usually in tears. I fed Andrew every 3 hours, so I spent most of the day trying to feed him. He was a very happy baby, except when I was trying to feed him. I assumed I had a heavy let down, so we started giving him a bottle. Even with the bottle though, he would get distracted easily or cry and arch his back and refuse to eat. I thought maybe he had a tongue tie, or acid reflux because he would get so upset when I tried to feed him. I would have to take him in a quiet room to get him to eat, which was really difficult with an energetic 16 month old daughter running around.
At 4 months old, I started giving him cereal. Andrew did great the first week, but then began refusing to swallow once I would give him cereal by spoon. I took him to the doctor because he refused to eat for several days in a row. At this point, I could only get him to eat if he was drowsy or falling asleep. Our pediatrician diagnosed him with acid reflux, delayed gastric emptying, and failure to thrive because he was losing weight. We ended up seeing a specialist (pediatric gastroenterologist) at a wonderful children’s hospital. They believed he had a swallowing issue, and ordered a swallow study. Of course, he refused to eat during the study and recommended that we use a feeding tube. They wanted us to feed him with the tube if he didn’t eat a certain amount every day, which caused me to have severe anxiety. Over the next 6 weeks, I would wake up at 5am every morning to feed him before he would wake up, then we would rock him to sleep before giving him a bottle during the day. It was extremely stressful and overwhelming because I felt that I was the only person who could get him to eat.
I was constantly looking on the internet for help. One day I came across an article on BabyCareAdvice about bottle aversions. Then I read a testimonial (Ruth) that made me burst into tears. This mother had a similar feeding issue with her daughter and Rowena was able to help her in a matter of days. Honestly, it sounded too good to be true. I didn’t feel comfortable sending money over the internet for an assessment, but after talking to my husband, we had nothing to lose. We had already spent thousands of dollars, so why not see what this nurse had to say. I filled out the questionnaire and within a few hours, Rowena emailed me and said she could help me with Andrew’s aversion to eating! We set up a Skype account and talked to her the next evening. We started Rowena’s plan the following week, and within 24 hours he was eating AWAKE, and within a week he was eating solids.
Words cannot describe how grateful and relieved I am for her help. No one (pediatricians, therapists, or specialists) could tell us what was wrong or how to help our son until we talked with Rowena. She was confident that she could help us, and she did. If any of my son’s issues sounds familiar, I would have you contact her immediately.
Our baby L was born 5 weeks premature and spent the first four weeks of her life in special care being fed with a nasogastric tube and was weaned to bottles. Even when we left hospital with L being soley bottle fed, she never seemed to really enjoy eating and rarely seemed to drink the amount everyone told us she should be having. At about 7 weeks of age she started to projectile vomit about once every second day, with the whole feed coming back up. Three months after her birth, at two months corrected age she started to refuse the bottle. Initially we thought she had reflux and started on medication for this. Gradually it became more and more difficult to feed L. She would scream and kick as I sat down with her in the feeding chair. Our worst day I was only able to feed her while she was sleeping. The doctors thought she may have a cow’s milk intolerance and asked us to try a special formula, which didn’t help. Their only solution was a feeding tube.
In desperation I searched the net about bottle refusal and found Rowena’s article on feeding aversion. At last something which made sense and fitted our picture. We had a skype appointment with Rowena and she explained her behavioural approach to treating the feeding aversion. It was such a relief to find someone who seemed to fully understand the situation and who had a solution. She was able to help us when nobody else could.
After a week of following the guidelines, we had made some progress but were still struggling with some behaviour. Rowena revised the plan and on we pushed. Gradually things improved and now I am able to feed L sitting in my lap and at last she is taking good quantities and putting on weight well. The projectile vomiting has settled a lot and happens only very occasionally now and we have been able to wean off the reflux medication.
Rowena was very prompt with email support to help guide us through an extremely difficult time. We found her to be knowledgeable, professional and caring. We are very grateful for her assistance and recommend her highly. I have also found the routines in her book to be very useful.
Ryan had been a good baby until 3 weeks after birth. He started to scream with each feed as though he was in some sort of pain. This went on for a while until he stopped drinking from the bottle altogether. He was vomiting most of what he would take too. The paediatrician we saw decided to insert the NG tube in him to sustain and keep his weight up until the cause of Ryan's issue was resolved. We had a few months of tube feeding until I saw a change in Ryan. He wasn’t screaming during his tube feeds anymore. He wasn’t vomiting his feeds anymore. He wasn’t irritable and cranky as he had been the last few months. It appeared that the issue that had first appeared and bothered Ryan so much had disappeared. It was time to remove the tube.
I tried for a week or so to get Ryan to drink from the bottle. He screamed at the sight of it. He had built up so much fear of the bottle he now had a phobia. One night, in my angst I came across Rowena's website. This sounds too good to be true I thought. I spoke to my husband the following day and we decided to give Rowena a try. Anything was worth a shot. Even if Rowena was on the other side of the world and there was a huge time difference. If it meant my baby was going to be better then it was worth it. After speaking with Rowena, we implemented her plan the following day. Unfortunately after a couple of days Ryan became ill with a cold and we scraped the plan. A couple of weeks later, when Ryan was completely better, we implemented the plan again. Ryan started to take the bottle within a couple of days. It was tough but after a week Ryan was drinking every feed via a bottle and the tube had become redundant. We have our baby back and life is pretty amazing. A huge thank you to Rowena!
Baby Culann was born on dec 11th 2013 and had some problems from birth, asd, vsd and PDA heart issues and also an exomphalos in his tummy, so was in intensive care for 11 days and in hospital until dec 31st. He was ng fed for a few days but was feeding normally when leaving hospital on the 31st. Unfortunately Culann got broncilitis and was put back into hospital he also picked up 2 viruses and was back on the ng feed, he was in hospital for 3 weeks and even though we would try to feed him orally every time, his volumes went down and down to the stage he was refusing the bottle, also he was on medication for reflux as he was spewing on his feeds. When he recovered from his sickness we were very frustrated that Culann would not take the bottle no matter how hard we tried without causing distress to him. At this stage Culann was 4 months old, his heart issues had sorted themselves and we were happy with Culanns overall health except for his feeding issues.
This was then I came across Rowena's website and on reading the testimonials it was just like me reading about my own baby, I emailed Rowena right away and actually paid for the full weeks support. We were very impressed when Rowena emailed back very promptly refunding us our monies as she said we need to fill out a very detailed questionnaire to check could she be of assistance to us. It proved to us right away how genuine Rowena was. We filled out the questionnaire and Rowena promptly emailed us to set up a skype appointment. We then spoke to Rowena and after a good chat she explained to us about bottle aversion and about behavioral issues. We then followed Rowena's plan which was so easy and logical and couldn't believe how fast everything came right. We were amazed how Culann suddenly started feeding from the bottle with very healthy amounts. Culann is feeding on high energy formula so he doesn't take big volumes but we are ecstatic that the ng is gone and also all the spewing is gone and he is off all reflux medication. We would recommend Rowena to anybody who's baby has feeding problems. We can now begin to enjoy our beautiful baby boy.
Our son had been a difficult baby from the start, colicky and a extremely gassy, already on reflux medication, but still seeming to be in pain when drinking. But he continued to gain weight and we were able to work our way through it for a while. However, when our son was right around 8 weeks old, he began exhibiting some symptoms of a feeding aversion- screaming when we would sit down to feed, turning his head after a few sips, refusing the bottle and screaming. Having previously been through an agonizing 18 month struggle with our first born's feeding aversion (for which we didn't get sufficient help in time), I recognized the symptoms right away.
While it was certainly helpful that I realized what was happening so quickly (unlike with our daughter), I also knew that time was of the essence in getting it resolved before things become a living nightmare yet again. I desperately began researching on the internet to see if there were any feeding clinics that I hadn't consulted with the first time around (since we didn't find much useful help with our daughter). I came across babycareadvice.com and began reading. Then I saw this:
"A feeding aversion is one of the most complex, confusing and stressful baby-care problems a parent could face."
When I read Rowena's words, I KNEW that this was someone who had either personally experienced a feeding aversion or had a lot of experience dealing with babies with this problem, and if nothing else seemed to understand what I was going through.
To an outsider, a feeding disorder or aversion in a baby may not sound that horrible. After all, it's not cancer or a congenital problem or any host of other things more well known by the general public, etc. However, after having survived it with our first born, I can tell you that once you've actually experienced it, it's completely traumatizing to the care giver. On top of making you feel like you can't provide one of the life necessities for your child (drinking/food), there is a lot of conflicting and incorrect information out there- so that you spend a good deal of your time feeling not only like a failure, but also hopeless. It can be an extremely isolating problem. People who have no experience with a feeding aversion don't understand all of the areas/quality of life it can affect. It controls everything in your world, not just the feeding of your baby. You can't take your baby out and about for very long, and you yourself can not be gone away from the baby more than between feedings (which may not be long at all, considering how little or how often your baby must eat). In many cases, you can't travel or feed baby outside of a specific spot in home (sometimes change of environment and distractions make the aversion worse). Any sort of sleeping patterns go out the window, as you may have to feed baby throughout the night much longer than planned, as a lot of these babies feed better during "dream feeds". You may find yourself constantly holding your child so they aren't screaming/distressed as that can make it harder to feed them. You worry about your relationship with the baby as he is trying to tell you he's hungry but its hard if not impossible to feed him. You live under a huge umbrella as stress as this kind of problem exists all day and night for a baby- after all, feeding occurs every several hours.
Our daughter had been hospitalized 3 times in her first year, and fell to and remained at 3% for weight. Truly the only reason we held on without a feeding tube was because of a miracle lady (who had since retired) who was the one person who could feed her without any aversion. The suggestions we had from Pediatricians, Feeding Teams, OTs, etc varied from- just feed her an ounce every hour 24 hours a day (Can you imagine?! How could one person do this? We had no family in town to help, and both had full time jobs); just let her fall off the curve and get diagnosed as Failure to Thrive, then we can help you; get the formula in her however you can- keep doing what you are doing. What we were doing, as I later learned, was essentially perceived by our daughter as force feeding and pressuring her to eat. Tricking her into drinking at times. We continued because we were told this is what we should do. Now, of course, we know that this only made the problem worse. Mind you, NONE of the specialists who were giving us this advice were EVER able to feed our daughter one drop of formula. I spent 18 months crying on weekends when our miracle lady wasn't working and couldn't feed our daughter, as I struggled desperately to keep her hydrated during the day, then crying tears of joy when she was sleeping and I was able to feed her. So many hours spent praying she'd gain weight, wondering what would come of all of this some day.
Due to all of the trauma, and the aversion not being handled quickly enough and correctly, at around 5 months of age she ended up classified with a motor planning delay in drinking and sensory defensiveness and we had to put her in sensory therapy 4 days a week. Finally, around 18 months of age, I was able to stop feeding her at night and she was able to drink out of a cup on her own. I'm happy to report that today she is thriving, no longer in therapy, and shows no ill effects from her feeding aversion as a baby. However, my point in explaining my daughter's issues is to show that when an aversion goes on untreated, the problems mount. So you can imagine my fear when my son began exhibiting a feeding aversion as well. I knew that it was of the utmost importance that he didn't feel force fed in the meantime while I searched for answers. I found Rowena just in time!
Rowena did an evaluation with me over the phone, and we set out on the aversion management plan. Though it was a bit scary, Rowena really explained things in a way that made sense. She helped me to understand what my responsibilities were as the feeder, what my son's were as the baby, and what was going on both physically and mentally with this struggle. I must have emailed Rowena 100 follow up questions as I thought of different scenarios or as different things played out during the plan. She always answered me back very thoroughly and very promptly. We saw a great improvement in our son within one week's time, and he's continued to maintain his weight over the last several weeks, with very few instances of aversion.
We wish we had known about Rowena with my daughter. It would have saved a year and a half of heart ache. Now we know there IS something you can do, and someone who can help and offer a plan that really DOES work, and it's such a weight off of our shoulders.
My son Rohan was born 2 months early. He weighed only 2.5 lbs. He was in hospital for 4.5 weeks & during his time in hospital he was fed via an NG tube. Rohan did come home & was feeding orally, however he was suffering from severe reflux. Eventually at 4 months of age he developed a severe aversion to the bottle. He completely 'shut down' & refused to take the bottle. We ended back in hospital & after a 2 week stay Rohan came home with an NG tube as this was the only way we could get milk down him & keep him hydrated.