A few years ago, when working as a Pre-K teacher, I used to encounter several parents concerned that their child was not really eating. I remember a mom in particular who every day would come and explain the battle at home for dinner and ask the teachers to be on top of her child’s lunch, making sure she ate the food packed and most certainly drank the Pedialyte recommended by the pediatrician.
Probably you’ve already heard of stories similar to that, or you might be the one in the same boat.
Thanks to many years of working with children of diverse ages, I can tell you how hard it is for a parent to deal with children who are picky eaters. At the same time, I can assure you that this a normal part of a child’s life. It can happen at different ages or stages of development for various reasons, whether it is for teething, textural preference, early eating habits, or even a transitional period.
Learning about Pediatric Feeding Disorder
Regardless of the reason, picky eating cannot be confused with a pediatric feeding disorder. According to News Medical, it is estimated that 10% of children suffer from this condition. However, not everyone is aware of it.
What differentiates a child who is a picky eater from another with a pediatric feeding disorder is that the latter unnourishing situation can cause growth and developmental issues.
Nico is one of these children. He is a two-year-old boy and the youngest of three children. Like many boys of his age, he likes to play and is active. But there is something that differentiates him from other kids: Nico has an extra “button” on his belly. He became feeding‑tube dependent at 15 months after his hospitalization and two surgeries.
Nico is tongue-tied, which prevented him from getting the necessary daily intake for his healthy growth. Nowadays, he gets half his daily calories from his feeding overnight and will continue to use a feeding tube until he can hydrate himself thoroughly and swallow liquids safely.
My Belly Has Two Buttons
Hoping to bring awareness to pediatric feeding disorder and help other families deal with the condition, author Meikele Lee, Nico’s mother, wrote the children’s book My Belly Has Two Buttons.
Meikele wanted to find an easy way to educate the public about feeding tubes and try to bring empathy from the overall population. Most people don’t know much if anything about pediatric feeding disorders and ask questions when they see a child such as Nico using one of the devices.
The book is written through the eyes of Nico, who describes a day in his life. He explains how the feeding tube works and how he can live a “regular” life with the help of a safety belt, his parents, doctors, and therapists.
Illustrator Rebecca Robertson portraits vivid images of Nico and his journey with the feeding tube, making the book relatable. And the story is recounted with a simple and poetic flair.
Besides serving as a voice for new tubies, My Belly Has Two Buttons is valuable reading for school-aged children and people curious about the subject, who need a straight-to-the-point and easy answer.
As a strong advocate for the feeding tube cause, and the mother of a tubie herself, author Meikele Lee continues researching different aspects of tube-feeding children while learning from her own experiences with her son. And it does not stop here. She plans to release more about the subject as they move forward.
For those who are interested in the cause and want to learn more about it, ABC Fox Montana recently aired a clip of Nico’s story. In February 2016, Meikele Lee also made a media appearance at KXLH Helena for “Feed Tube Awareness Week.”
The book, My Belly Has Two Buttons is available in digital and paperback formats on Amazon. Helena residents can get copies directly from the author Meikele Lee, Montana Book and Toy Company, and Pipsqueeks in Helena, Montana.
Do you know any child who has pediatric feeding disorder? Want to learn more about the cause? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Meikele Lee is the author of the children’s book My Belly Has Two Buttons and lives in Helena, Mt. She is a wife and mother to three amazing children, one of whom has a feeding tube. She has been in cosmetology for over 10 years but became passionate about blogging when her youngest child’s oral aversions became life threatening. She used blogging to try to understand her son’s condition and how he can relate to others with or without a feeding tube and to help educate the public about these life-saving devices. You can learn more and connect with Meikele on Facebook and Twitter.