Building Trust Through Feeding and Food Progress for Sofia!

*****Interrupting the Nutrition Series to bring you this fabulous update!*****

It's no secret, one of our biggest struggles we've experienced with two of our post-adoption kiddos is extreme food-related behaviors. Zoya and Sofia both struggle(d) with wanting/needing to eat all the time. I've posted a bit about this in past posts, but some of the behaviors Sofia demonstrated around food include: yelling, crying and screaming at the sight of food (not because she didn't want it, but because she NEEDED to have that food the moment she saw it), crying when her food was gone, breaking down if she saw someone else eating when she wasn't, eating anything in sight (food and non food items), not having a preference for favorite foods, never turning food down, needing frequent small snacks often throughout the name a few! Meals were a very frustrating time as you can imagine.

I'm happy to say we're seeing the light here! She has been doing much better and is even starting to turn down foods, and not finishing drinks/meals. This is HUGE!!! Today, I fed Mila lunch first and Sofia played on the kitchen floor HAPPILY, knowing Mila was eating and she wasn't!!! Do you know what that means? That means she is starting to realize that food will ALWAYS be available to her....that she can trust us!!!!! This is not just a little accomplishment, this is HUGE!

The biggest improvement I've seen is in the look in her eyes around food. She is still semi-obsessed when food is presented, BUT she will look at me and give me eye contact when I request it (instead of focusing ONLY on the food)...her eyes look peaceful now instead of scared. She CAN wait in between bites without having a melt down. She doesn't cry when her food is gone! We are so happy to be seeing this progress!

Sofia has had an aversion to cold foods, as it's not common practice in Ukraine to feed children anything cold (their view is that children will get sick if they eat cold foods...obviously Americans don't share that view). Zoya had this issue as well.  Little by little, I've been offering her bites of cold baby food or yogurt, or a room-temperature drink (instead of heated) and she's always had the same reaction, until today!!!

In the videos below, you can see she is trying some cold almond yogurt. You can see her face and the surprised look, but she is willing to keep eating it even though it's cold! In the past she would have stuck her tongue out and cried.

Some strategies that I accidentally found worked with Zoya, have worked well with Sofia too! When we were in Ukraine with Zoya, there was nowhere for her to sit for her meals, so I sat on the floor with her. This worked really well because eating/feeding is such a trust-building experience and this allowed Zoya (and Sofia) to move away from me on their own to "take a break" from the sometimes overwhelming experience of eye contact/eating. It might not make sense but for former orphans, building trust through eye contact can be overwhelming and I find it best to allow them those "breaks." As I said, feeding is the best trust-building experience I've found with all of my girls, so I try to take meals as an opportunity to work on that.

In this video, you'll see Sofia on the kitchen floor. I have seen good progress with both girls when I feed them on the floor where they can move around rather than in a high chair. (I do feed her most meals in a high chair but try to do these little trust building feeding exercises when I can!) She is eating some flavored almond yogurt (I started with this because I thought she'd be more likely to eat it because it's sweeter than plain yogurt!) You can see that I let her play in the yogurt which is ultimately going to help her be okay with eating cold foods. Our fabulous OT had given me that advice (let kids play with their food before/during eating) and it has really helped my kiddos to be less sensory defensive with food issues.

Here you can see that I'm requesting Sofia to give me eye contact to get a bite of food. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. When she is so focused on the spoon/bowl/food, I put some on the spoon and slowly move it up toward my eyes to get her to eventually give me the eye contact. Sometimes she scoots away for a little break. You can see that she still would prefer to focus on the food, but I'm gently asking her to look at me so she can connect the food with "mama," thus building trust. (By the way, she does typically close her mouth around a spoon but because this was her first time really eating cold foods I think she was a little hesitant!) Also in this video I had moved to plain yogurt with avocado and honey to change it up and decrease the sugar that was in the flavored yogurt! Typically when I do this I hold the bowl closer to my chin to get her to naturally look up that way, but since I was taping with one hand I couldn't do that! 

One more I held the spoon in her mouth longer, trying to get her to close her lips on the spoon now that she was used to the coldness a little bit more. This ended up working really well for her to naturally give me some eye contact! 

I'm including this video because I think it's funny! I was telling her no in Russian when she was trying to whack the spoon and bowl (which we use often because she still responds much better to that than the English "No") and you can see how quickly she responds to the word and shakes her head. HAHA! I love how you can hear Zoya in the background saying "Niet!" 

Jump for joy with us! We're thrilled with her progress and the improving trust and bonding happening around here lately! We know now (with Sofia being our third princess), to expect temporary regressions...and although those are never easy, we are seeing some light at the end of this tunnel and for that we are thrilled! Go Curlie Girlie!!!!!


  1. Such wonderful news. All your hard work and patience has really paid off. You are the most amazing parents.Carol

  2. This is so awesome (and that last video was super funny!!!)!

  3. This is wonderful,I am definitely bookmarking this. I took a few notes,and I really appreciate you taking the time to help other parents by giving your own wisdom on this topic. Even in the Connected Child,they don't spend time talking about food issues. Thank you so much!

  4. She is so cute and amazing. I can't believe how strong she is.

  5. YES!!!! So happy for this accomplishment! What patience it must take but oh so worth it for those big smiles!!! Sofia is just adorable!!! (((HUGS)))!!!

  6. That is awesome! Celebrating with you. Huge successes!

  7. I didn't realize you were still posting on this blog til i saw your link--lol! Now I will check it more regularly!;) Sofia is so beautiful and doing amazing! I love how you consciously parent each of the girls according to their needs... I wish all parents would do this with ALL children! It's educational (me being a social work major lol) when I read about how you basically are needing to treat Sofia as a newborn because that's where she's at emotionally and that it helps with her bonding. And, I know I can learn a lot from you about nutrition in general even tho I have no little ones in my household I DO need to learn to eat better for my own health!


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