I’m a Burlington Naturopathic Doctor, I have a beautiful 7 month old little girl and a gorgeous 2 ½ year old big girl. When my baby A turned 6 months I was exhausted from lack of sleep but decided I wanted to make her baby food. It had to be organic and it had to follow the introduction schedule that naturopathic doctor’s prefer.
I felt satisfied that I was doing the right thing up until my baby wouldn’t eat. It was sort of funny at first. My baby girl would make these funny faces, like babies do when they first taste what they have been watching us eat. She would work her tongue around and basically push the food out of her mouth. I though she didn’t like the food, so I tried sweet potato, pear, beets, apples, mangos and meat. And after a month, I was confused.
She is so nice and chunky that I really wasn’t worried about her losing weight or not getting her nutrients. But I did want her to one day not have to wake every 2-3 hours in the night to feed.
My sister is also a naturopathic doctor and she specializes in children with neurodevelopmental issues. She was watching baby A eat one day and while everyone one else was laughing at Baby A’s faces, Sonya was deep in thought.
‘She has some flags for apraxia” Sonya told me. What?!? Sonya explained that Baby A was having trouble connecting her mouth and her brain. Apraxia is not well understood and oral motor issues are not assessed and treated as often as they should be by Naturopathic Doctors. We need to watch for early flags like difficulty breastfeeding and/or difficulty with food introduction. Many parents report that their children are extremely picky and will gag at a certain texture. THIS IS AN ORAL MOTOR ISSUE!!!
One of the biggest reasons to assess and treat oral motor planning dysfunction at an early age is to promote healthy speech language development. In fact, when naturopathic doctors see these issues, a referral to a great Speech Language Pathologist is warranted. For us as NDs, the oral motor concerns are a major flag that the body is having a problem with it’s “house of fats”. Kelly Dorfman, author of What’s Eating my Child, has a wonderful one pager on essential fatty acid therapy for apraxia and dyspraxia. http://www.kellydorfman.com/
For effective muscular integration in the mouth, babies need omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. They also have to be able to convert these fatty acids to their active form. The other major issue with North American children is the fatty acid “shuttle” system. Essential fats need to find their way into the cell, in order to support many aspects of development like speech and language. This shuttle system is called CARNITINE. Guess what environmental toxins can do to the carnitine shuttle? Shut’er down! This leads to all kinds of fat deficiency related symptoms like eczema, poor weight gain, focus and attention issues and hyperactivity. Your child’s “house of fats” needs to be solidly in place by the time they are born. Crucial essential fatty acid lay down happens in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. It is never too late, however, to address essential fatty acid issues like apraxia, dyspraxia and oral motor planning problems.
When to ask for help:
- if your baby is having latching issues
- if your baby is having trouble introducing solid foods or foods of different textures
- if your baby, toddler or child gags at foods and is a “picky” eater
- if your child’s speech is delayed; particularly with articulation and speech clarity
So I started Baby A on a fish oil (omega 3) which also had omega 6. I gave ½ tsp a day over 3 days and then Baby A moved her mouth the right way and started to eat!!!! It was amazing! There were more things we could have done if that didn’t work, but it did mean she was deficient in omega 3 or omega 6 essential fatty acids were needed for good brain function.
So now my chunky monkey is eating and happy and babbling up a storm and she is on track to hit her developmental milestones. Thanks Sonya!
I used Ascenta fish oil which is the professional line from Nutra Sea. This fish oil is clean with no contaminants and can be found at Fortino’s and most health food stores.
Written by Drs Carissa & Sonya, Natural Care Clinic