When I started blogging in 2009, I found other like-minded bloggers including Katja Rowell, MD — family doctor turn feeding doctor. Struggling with feeding her own child led her to Ellyn Satter’s resources — she eventually trained with her and began a new career dedicated to helping families raise competent eaters.
I knew Rowell was writing Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More, so when the book came in the mail I was excited to start reading. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more excited to get the word out.
Rowell has done a very important thing with this book — provide adoptive parents with the support they need to deal with the intense worry many of them feel about feeding their children. I know because I get questions from adoptive parents — and can tell these are different than my typical questions. That’s because when adopting a child, attachment is the first and foremost goal and when feeding isn’t going well, attachment usually isn’t either. Rowell touches on this in her introduction:
“If you have feeding or growth concerns, it may feel like feeding, and thinking about feeding, is all you do. It affects how you feel about yourself as a parent, how you feel about your child, and your ability to attach and enjoy your time together.”
What adds to the complexity of feeding adopted children is that they are at increased risk for medical and developmental issues and often have a less than ideal feeding history, which may include malnutrition or forced feeding. According to data presented in the book, one out of three internationally adopting parents identifies feeding and weight worries.
The book is divided into two sections, Part 1: What Are Your Worried About? Learning How to Feed Your Family (the foundation of knowledge parents need) and Part 2: Making It work: There’s More You Need to Know (the application of that information). In Part 1 Rowell discusses the importance of the trust model of feeding, focusing on the Division of Responsibility. She covers all the potential feeding issues such as oral-motor, sensory and special needs and weight and appetite extremes, including selective eating and preoccupation with food.
I particularly enjoyed her presentation of oral/motor/sensory issues because I think this is a confusing area for parents and health professionals. Rowell helps parents realize their options, including how to find the right help and what can be done at home. Her insights into weight concerns will give parents peace of mind that they are doing the right thing by focusing on their job of feeding well, instead of the uphill battle of trying to manipulate weight.
Part 2 deals with all the day-to-day issues that make following the trust model of feeding challenging. I love all the stories, especially the ones that show how things are going years later. This book vividly demonstrates that successful feeding isn’t about getting a child to eat a certain way or weigh a certain amount, it’s about taking the worry out of the equation, connecting with your child through feeding and realizing that this is the basis for raising healthy and happy eaters. A lot of aha moments!
While reading the book, I sometimes forgot that it is for adoptive parents, making it clear that this book can benefit all families, especially those who feel feeding issues are getting in the way of parent-child bonding.
The book will also help parents who have personally struggled with food, whether it be through an eating disorder or weight and food issues, because parents who struggle often find the trust model of feeding difficult to follow. Rowell provides sound advice on how parents can move past their issues.
Love Me, Feed Me, is a must-have feeding book for parents at any stage of adoption. It will help parents understand their children better even before they arrive, and quiet the worry and struggle around food, weight and eating that extends way beyond the kitchen table.