Can I Get Some Opinions?

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April777's picture
Joined: 10/01/08
Posts: 579
Can I Get Some Opinions?

I have this fear of permanently warping my child or causing her to lag behind her peers, so I thought I would run this by you ladies to see what you thought.

Zoey gets a lot of vertigo/dizzy spells when she's eating. Which results in her refusal to eat because presumably, it makes her feel sick. This leads to her not sleeping well because she wakes up hungry. Not sleeping leads to an increase in daytime vertigo spells. It all turns into a vicious cycle that never ends.

The reason for the spells while eating, I think, is because when she feeds herself she focuses her eyes on the spoon or fork as it moves from plate to her mouth. Watching it come toward her, you can see it causes her some distress. Her eyes will often roll back into her head at this point and she'll whine and say she doesn't want to eat anymore.

Since she needs to eat, I can do one of two things. 1. I can feed her myself, which I often have to do despite her age and her ability to do it herself. Or 2. I can distract her while she feeds herself, so she's not focusing her eyes on the utensil coming toward her face.

Because I want to encourage her to learn to feed herself and to progress in this area, I always try to provide distraction during meal times so she will feed herself. In the end, that involves one of two things. Either my laptop sits on the table and we'll watch some You Tube videos (currently we're learning letter sounds and working on phonics, and watching short educational videos); or I'll let her look at a book while she eats. I find that if her eyes are not focused on the utensil, she can successfully feed herself without having dizzy spells.

I don't believe in TV at mealtimes and I sort of hate that this is our routine. But its the only way I can get a balanced meal into her. I've tried to distract her in other ways, like to sing songs and talk with her and get her to focus on my face while she eats. I've gone so far as to dance in the kitchen to get her to focus on me rather than the utensils moving toward her face. Nothing else really works as well as the computer does.

So, in the whole scheme of things, how bad is this? I feel like I'm always struggling to decide between two less than desirable options with her. I feel like I'm creating a bad behavior here, but at the same time, I keep thinking that a bad behavior has got to be better than an underweight/malnourished child. Right?

I wish she came with an easy button.

Girlandi's picture
Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 49

You're comparing it to just plunking a kid down in front of the TV a meal times for no reason, which is totally not the case here. I'd say if it's helping her eat, and learn to not focus on the fork coming at her face that it's just fine. When she's older you can use something else, but for now I'd go with what works. Besides, you already said you're using educational programs, so it has some benefits as well. Wink

AimeeLynne's picture
Joined: 09/29/08
Posts: 572

I 100% agree! I think that if it helps her now, why not use it. You can still do the educational shows or videos. You can have that be her tv time for the day. When she gets a little bit older or when these spells stop, or get less in between you can either stop or wean her off of it at meal times.

PeppermintPatty's picture
Joined: 08/21/07
Posts: 426

April, I also agree what the ladies have said!!!!!! I see nothing wrong with you using the videos as a way to distract her (they are learning videos after all!!)

I say good job, April on being a loving, caring mommy trying to do what is best for your little girl.

ekcanada's picture
Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 1707

Before I got to the Laptop/book part of your post, I was thinking bring on the TV. Whatever makes her more comfortable at this point I say go for it.

On Friday nights we grab take out and eat in front of the tv. It is always Hayleigh's best meal of the day.

Out of all the things we can do to screw up up children, this I would say, is so minimal!

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

I think you have special circumstances, and you need to do what works. As long as you keep everything else how you would ideally like it (ie. sitting at the table to eat), then if/when the times come that she no longer needs the distraction, you can simply remove the laptop. Everything else would remain the same.

thinkinpositive's picture
Joined: 06/18/05
Posts: 18

Gosh hon, I say reeeelax about it! I find myself doing this ALL the time. It's Caillou for lunchtime and sometimes educational videos at dinner. For us, the problem is boredom with a very limited diet, which can make him refuse to eat altogether and with his low weight we just can't be harsh about it and say "Sorry - that's what's for supper!"

Poor Zoey - that must be awful. But I agree with the others that one day this won't be necessary and there will be other options.

Hang in there, sweetie. You're an awesome Mommy!

harmonybear's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 639

OK, I'm going to give a slightly different perspective than everyone else.

First of all, it's perfectly OK for you to use the youtube in this way. I don't want you to hear me saying otherwise. Smile You have special circumstances.

But I also don't think it's a bad thing for you to feed her, considering the circumstances, and TV-watching during mealtime can get to be a bad habit that really ruins families. So if it were me, I would be alternating between feeding her myself and the TV thing. You want to form good family meal habits, too, and I think it's more important long-term for your family to have at least a few meals a week that are TV-free than it is for her to successfully feed herself during those meals.

You could do the youtube thing for breakfast and lunch, but then feed her for dinner, or you could have a rule that when all three (or four, eventually) of you are at the table there is no TV, but when it's just some of you the laptop is allowed. Or you could set certain meals a week that are laptop-free.

And, of course, this is going to have to be flexible when the new one gets here (you won't have the time to feed her always), but I think TV-free family meals are too important for you to completely give in to the laptop at meals, even just for the time being.

Of course, this is hopefully only for a few months anyway, because you'll see the specialist in July (right?) and hopefully he'll have better solutions for you!

woelfelyojo6's picture
Joined: 01/15/09
Posts: 52

So its so funny you post this. As I have posted before my husband comes from a strict household and we have some pretty strict eating rules in our house (I am a bit more lax when DH is not around). So anyway, the rule is he can ONLY eat in his high chair. We have a smaller table in the kitchen so when DH is not around I let him get in his own chair and eat there, but those are typically the only 2 places he eats.

Another big rule, no one leaves the table until everyone is done. I get this, and Liam is usually pretty happy about it but lately he has been yelling "All Done MommyDaddy" over and over until all of us are done which can sometimes be 10 minutes or so between when he finishes and we finish. We try to ignore it so he won't get attention for it. Of course we remind him that we are not done and try to engage him in our conversations but he has been uber persistant about it lately.

Well the computer was at the dinner table the other night and I asked DH to just turn on an animal video from NatGeo kids (his fav) so we could have a conversation. Well, Liam was watching that and quiet and not paying attention to what he was eating and finished his whole plate of food (which NEVER happens). When he realized he was done he asked for more. We have not done it again at the dinner table, but I pulled his high chair over by the TV for lunch the other day so I could feed Eloise on the couch and put my feet up. He finished all his food again and asked for more.

I guess what I am saying is...for most Americans sitting in front of a TV and mindlessly eating is not a good thing, but for picky/dizzy toddlers I don't think its a horrible idea. It helps them get what they need, and like you said its not going to be forever! DH even brought the computer to the table last night to distract him, but he ate ok on his own so we did not end up using it!

April777's picture
Joined: 10/01/08
Posts: 579

"harmonybear" wrote:

I think TV-free family meals are too important for you to completely give in to the laptop at meals, even just for the time being.

I agree here 100%. I came from a family where we never, ever ate anywhere but the kitchen table together as a family. I think even when I was sick my mother made me sit at the table with everyone, even if I didn't eat. The TV was never on, except for rare occasions. Maybe Superbowl Sunday, a Presidential Election, a highly anticipated Christmas special all of us were dying to watch. So for me to let her watch anything during a meal is very difficult for me.

I should have clarified a bit more in my post. I always attempt to begin a meal without using the laptop at all, unless we begin the meal with her eyes rolling back in her head already. We get through half of her meal before she has difficulty, and then I resort to the laptop. This only happens at breakfast and lunch, because the majority of her episodes occur before her 1 pm nap. My assumption here is because she sleeps so poorly overnight, and we've found that being tired (which she is, all morning long) tends to cause the dizzy spells. By the time she wakes up from her afternoon nap, she's usually in good shape for the rest of the day. Therefore, I never put the laptop on the table at dinner time. She gets so excited to see her Daddy that she just stares at him with googly eyes, and we have few issues at the dinner table aside from behavioral ones (she wants out of her high chair in the worst way so she can play with DH). So it's not 3 meals a day, it's 2. And then, it's not 2 complete meals, it's 2 partial meals.

Regardless, I still don't much like it. But I also have this quest to get her to be more independent because I know when the new one is here she's going to have to fend for herself a lot more than she already does. So I try not to feed her myself too much, and encourage her to do it on her own. I'm afraid that if she relies on me too much now that when I need to take a step back and divide my attention between two children, that it will be a huge emotional struggle for her. I worry so much about her psyche which, I've learned since she's gotten sick and I've gotten pregnant, is a bit fragile.

ekcanada's picture
Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 1707

April, what about trying her in a booster seat so she can sit right at the table and feel more "connected to" DH?

babyJtime's picture
Joined: 05/23/05
Posts: 682

I think that you have to use what works. She obviously needs to eat and if it's with the help of the TV/laptop, so be it. It's not a permanent thing so I'm sure it's okay for now! Smile

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