My heart went out to this mom, because I knew how she felt. None of the NICU doctors warned us about feeding issues, and so when Max started solids at six months, I was surprised that so much dribbled out. And sad, too, because Max already had so many challenges to overcome.
Max had difficulties with tongue coordination and swallowing, along with jaw weakness, all of which would make speech difficult, too. Feeding him a jar of baby food could take a half hour: we'd spoon some in, spoon back in what came out, repeat, repeat, repeat. Bottles were a mess because retaining liquid was even harder; Max would sop through the burp cloths I'd tuck under his chin.
Max is still mostly eating mushy stuff, and I just had a conversation with his longtime speech therapist about feeding him strips of melted cheese sandwiches to help get him chewing more on his back molars. To strengthen his jaw, before mealtimes we're putting a Chewy Tube stick on the back of each molar and having him bite 10 times per side for a total of 40. I asked his teacher if the aides in his class could do this at lunchtime, and emailed a photo:
I emailed this mom back to recommend she try to find other feeding specialists (she lives around Harrisburg, PA, so if you happen to know of a good one in the area, please share). I also told her about how we thicken liquids for Max with substances like Hormel Thick & Easy. And I offered to share part of her email here, to get more suggestions.
Every kid with feeding issues needs personalized help, of course, but if you have great strategies that have benefitted your child, please share (and nobody try these at home without consulting an expert).