Taking Liquid Medications- oral aversion?

9 Jul

Joy Despite Difficulties and Taking Liquid Medications – our rough start were about some of the challenges we have or are facing.  Today, I will write about another challenge we are trying to overcome.

When we were in Ethiopia bringing our daughter home,  the nannies had told us that it took a lot of patience to feed our daughter (age 2).  They said she wanted to do anything else but eat or drink her bottle.  We found out real soon how true of a statement that was. She would let us feed her only a few bites of baby food and would only drink about 2 oz of formula at a feeding.  Basically she refused to eat any table food and didn’t drink enough formula.
At our first appointment we were told that our daughter had an oral aversion to liquids and foods probably caused from taking her liquid HIV medicines and being focused to take these liquids she did not like.  She was also still in a baby room at 2 because she did not walk or talk so she had not been introduced to foods other than baby food.  A late introduction to solids can also cause or lead to an oral aversion.  The way I understand an oral aversion is basically a sensory issue related to eating and drinking.

So what do you do to help a child get over an oral aversion?

This is where I really don’t have all the answers.  Our daughter is currently a lot better, but we still have a lot of issues with food to work through.  She does put things in her mouth now but won’t always chew and swallow food.  Children with sensory issues also often gag and throw up food, which our daughter also does.  She has over time learned to drink liquids and that is the main way we get calories in her. (I will post more about this later.) 

We are currently working with our physical therapist and speech pathologist to help with her eating issues.  One of the things we have done is used tubing called Thera-tubing.  It is basically plastic tubes of different colors and strengthens that she is supposed to chew on.  They also had us use a tooth-brush and brushed around the outside of her mouth.  They say it helps wake up her muscles and desensitize her mouth.  We have special spoons and try different flavoring on her foods to see if she will like something. 

They say children with sensory issues often like extreme flavors.  The key is finding what flavors she prefers.  The only thing we can tell is that she doesn’t really like sweet things.  She gags on things like cookies, chocolate, ice cream , and donuts.  The main thing she will eat are little veggies, and she seems to prefer salt.  She will suck on a cracker to get the salt off but then spits it out. 

We have also had to let her just play with her food.  That is basically what she did with food for her first few months.  She would break it up, mash it, and (unfortunately for us) threw it.  Her favorite “food therapy” was playing with pudding on a cookie sheet.   She had to get more comfortable with food before she would put it in her mouth.

I really don’t know what else to say about oral aversion.  To be honest all this sensory stuff doesn’t fully make sense to me.  There have been days when I thought…”How will this help?”  But I have followed all their suggestions.   And now after six months home she is getting better, not great but better.  I think over time she will continue to improve, but this problem has been slow one to overcome.  

So did the HIV medications cause her oral aversion? 

Who Knows?  What I do know is that our daughter now has a mommy and a daddy (and a sister and brother) to help her tackle all her problems brought on by her HIV and/or orphanage life.

5 Responses to “Taking Liquid Medications- oral aversion?”

  1. f smith July 21, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    just last night on the news in tampa fl there was a report about children who would not eat I believe it was abc 28 and all childrens hospital but I could be mistaken about the hospital name. Maybe it was called happy meals? but it had one little girl eating within 2 months. I hope that will be helpful in some way.

    • Kay July 22, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

      Thanks I will have to try to look it up. We are still having lots of problems. I would love to try something new. Thanks again, Kay

  2. simon January 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Hope its going much better Kay,I can relate as I am having a simmilar experience trying to feed my little boy who also has an oral aversion to food. Please let me know if you have come across any successful idea. thanks

    • Kay January 31, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

      It is going better, but in Dec. 2010 we had a peg tube put in to help with medications. We now give her 8 to 16 oz of pedisure in her peg tube each day to help her maintain her weight. We have worked with an occupational therapist, but really did not think it helped much. Giving our daughter lots of time, no pressure to eat, allowing her to play or mess with her food is mainly what we have done. Some days she will eat and some days she won’t. Sometimes she will eat a certain food and then the next day won’t touch it. It has been a real learning experience and test of our patience. I was a picky eater when I was little so my mom thinks I am getting what comes around. Hope you find something that works for your son. We did use Benecalorie to help add calories to what she drank. We still use it on days she really doesn’t eat.


  1. Benecalorie: Weight Gain Help « - July 17, 2010

    […] July 17, 2010 tags: children living with HIV, HIV Adoption, HIV/AIDS Adoption by Kay In my last post, I shared about our daughter’s struggle to eat food.  As you can imagine, we have had great […]

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