Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pica: Eating Inedibles

I was reading this post by a fellow blogger site and it got me thinking about SensiGirl and pica.
 I hate to talk about it, but it is another one of those things you adapt to because you have a child that isn't typical.

As soon as SensiGirl was mobile she was putting things in her mouth. That is what you expect with a toddler, you figure they will grow out of it as a preschooler or kindergartner. SensiGirl didn't grow out of it, she became selective. SensiGirl used to go out in the yard in the spring and take great glumps of mud and lick them off her hands. Ugh!

She kept doing this kind of thing with dirt, snow, ice, erasers, chalk. I told her doctor and SensiGirl was tested for deficiencies. We found that she was low in iron, which is associated with the eating of dirt.  Once we got an iron supplement going in her, the incidents of pica was less. She still wants to eat things that are inedible, snow, dry rice and pasta and chalk.  I don't have to keep the cabinet under lock and key. I do have to watch her outside and we come inside every time she eats a nonfood item.

I started reading this book out of curiosity, but it was very helpful in reminding me what plants we have around that are bad to consume.  It has some humor but the information is solid. Since I like to garden, I keep in mind what plants are poisonous, and either get rid of them or take off any poisonous parts or berries. SensiGirl seems satisfied with green apples and sour grapes from the back yard for now. I make sure I pick all the berries off the yew bushes when they fruit.

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It is getting better. As SensiGirl grows, the desire to consume these things wanes.  Patience and consistency is the key in dealing with pica, as it can take some time for kids to stop wanting to eat nonfood items. Stop them from eating the yucky stuff and take them away from the activity, or take them to throw away the item. If you do this every time, eventually they will decide that not eating the unfood is better, since they get to stick with what they were doing. I do cheat in the winter, I give SensiGirl a substitute for the snow, sometimes it is a candy cane, sometimes a juice box, (I keep them in the car, so they get a little slushy sometimes.) Just remember to check with your doctor to see if there is a reason for eating the nonfood items and to use constant consequences and sometimes a little bit of a sweet or sour substitute can help.

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