‘Help…My child won’t eat!’ – a guest blog post

Top tips on what to do with a fussy eater from Paula Hallam, specialist paediatric dietitianA very big thank you to Paula Hallam of Tiny Tots Nutrition, for this really helpful guest blog post on how to deal with a fussy eater. A subject that many of us with little children can relate to!  Paula is a specialist paediatric dietitian with over 16 years experience, working in the NHS and other healthcare settings. She has private clinics in Surbiton and Walton-on-Thames. You can find out more on her website or on Twitter 

‘Help…My child won’t eat!’

Sound familiar? As a parent, you always want to do the best for your child and this includes trying to feed them the healthiest foods you can. But your best intentions are often abandoned when a fussy toddler refuses your meal!

Why do children refuse food?

The first thing to say is that food refusal is a normal part of toddler development.

  • Between the ages of 6 and 12 months, most babies are willing to try new and different types of foods. They are naturally curious and want to try foods that you and other members of the family are eating. This is why it is so important to use this “window of opportunity” to offer a variety of foods for your baby to taste and explore their texture.
  • Between the ages of 1-2 years, toddlers begin to develop a more suspicious view on food. This is called the ‘neophobic response to food’, which means that they become slightly wary of trying new foods. It is thought that this is a survival mechanism to protect a child from eating something poisonous.

But the good news is that most toddlers grow out of this ‘neophobic’ phase and will develop a healthy attitude to foods if they see their siblings and parents/carers eating a wide variety of foods.

6 Top tips to help manage fussy eaters…

TOP TIP 1: Develop a routine for mealtimes and snacks

Make sure you offer meals and snacks at more or less the same time each day, so that your child knows what to expect. This also ensures that your child does not become too hungry or tired to eat.

TOP TIP 2: Learn to recognise signals for when your toddler has had enough to eat

You decide WHAT your child eats and let them decide HOW MUCH they eat.

Your child is telling you they have had enough when they do the following:

  • Keep their mouth shut
  • Turn their head away
  • Push away a spoon or fork
  • Hold food in their mouth
  • Spit food out
  • Gag or retch

Try offering a “do it yourself” meal, such as making your own wraps, pitta breads or pizzas. You choose the toppings that are available and let your children choose what they would like to go in/on their wrap/pitta/pizza.

TOP TIP 3: Check fluid intake from milk and other drinks

If a child is full up on juice or milk they will not have an appetite for their food. Use a drinking cup for water/diluted juice/milk and try to phase out feeding bottles by about 12 months of age. Between 1 and 3 years of age, a child needs a maximum of 350ml of milk per day to meet their calcium requirements.

TOP TIP 4: Involve children in food preparation

Get creative and start cooking with your children. They will learn about different foods and are more likely to try foods that they have helped prepare. Give them little tasks to do, such as stirring a sauce, chopping vegetables with small scissors, weighing out ingredients, etc

TOP TIP 5: Don’t’ give up!

Children need repeated exposure to a food in order to accept it – this can be 10-15 times. If they don’t like a food the first time, don’t worry; just try it again in a week or so. Keep offering a food to your child…perseverance is the key!

TOP TIP 6: Check for medical causes

Constipation and iron deficiency anaemia can decrease a child’s appetite. Previous negative / unpleasant experiences around food and eating, such as pain, vomiting or gastro-oesopageal reflux can also affect a child’s eating behaviour. If you suspect your child may have one of these conditions, contact your GP.

A final note… If your child eats a very limited range of foods (10 foods or less) or is particularly sensitive to sound, touch or smells, they may have sensory processing problems. Ask your GP to refer your child to a Paediatrician and they may recommend a multi-disciplinary Feeding Clinic.

Paula Hallam BSc (Med) (Hons) Nutrition & Dietetics, RD
Specialist Paediatric Dietitian
Tiny Tots Nutrition Ltd

 

Clinics and contact details:

I have clinics based in

  • Surbiton (KT6 5NH)
  • Walton-on-Thames (KT12 2SD)

If you have a question about your child’s nutrition, please get in touch I’d love to hear from you!

Tel: 07947466083

Email: Paula.hallam@yahoo.co.uk

 

Fabulous giveaway and 10% off Super Squish!

I love giveaways!

To brighten up a rather chilly start to the year, we’re giving ONE lucky customer a chance to take home 2 Annabel Karmel recipe books – Top 100 Baby Purees & Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. Two books that will help anyone with a bit of weaning inspiration! These books are full of gorgeous quick, easy and healthy recipes plus meal planners that will be a really useful addition to your kitchen.

As an added bonus we’re also giving all customers 10% off all our pouches – just use AK10 at the checkout.

To be entered into the giveaway, all you have to do is to buy a set of Super Squish pouches, using code AK10, BY 22 FEBRUARY 2017.

Small print: 

  1. UK entrants only.
  2. Purchases must be made by 10pm 22 February 2017 to be entered into the lucky draw.
  3. The discount code AK10 is valid until 10pm on 22 February 2017.
  4. The winner will be contacted via email by 7pm on 23 February.
  5. One lucky draw entry per online transaction at www.supersquish.co.uk.

 

We love… Tickle Buds weaning subscription boxes

When I started weaning my son 4 and a half years ago, I know I would have jumped at a chance to make my food prep easier. Tickle Buds weaning recipe boxes, specifically designed for babies and toddlers, do just that! We wanted to showcase these boxes on our blog as we think they’re such a fabulous idea.

Tickle Buds founders, Emma and Helen

Tickle Buds founders, Emma and Helen, are both new mums with a passion for home cooking, “We want to make it easier for parents to home cook tasty, nutritious food throughout their baby’s weaning journey, and to make first foods easy for everyone”.

How it works:

Parents receive a fortnightly box of age appropriate recipes, all ready to cook and delivered direct to their door. With recipes cards, cooking tips, nutritional information and pre-measured ingredients, Tickle Buds weaning boxes ensure that babies gets the very best nutritionally, whilst parents have everything they need to easily and confidently cook healthy and exciting meals for their little ones.

Tasty lamb tangine

What’s so great about Tickle Buds weaning recipe boxes?

  • Home cooking made easy: No stress! They write the recipes, source and pre-measure the ingredients and deliver everything you need to your door, all you need to do is cook
  • Best food for baby: They use fresh, top quality ingredients
  • Good value for money: Each meal works out at less than £2 per portion
  • Batch cooking made easy: Each box contains three or four recipes, with four portions of each recipe. Use what you need and store the remainder in the fridge or freezer – perfect for busy days
  • No Waste: Every ingredient is pre-measured, so you don’t end up with unused food
  • Age appropriate and nutritionally balanced meals: They work with child nutritionists to ensure your little one gets everything they need
  • It’s a Journey: Tickle Buds weaning boxes follow a pre-planned weaning journey that takes you through each stage, introducing different flavours, tastes and textures as you go. You can join at any point!

First Foods Weaning Community
It was also important to Helen and Emma that parents feel part of a weaning community. They created “First Foods” an online advice blog which they hope to build into an online community- a weaning advice centre- where experts share their wisdom, parents and carers share the highs and lows of their weaning adventures together, and people swap advice and tips with each other.

 

Beetroot and pear puree

Brilliant beetroot and pear puree

This is a super puree to introduce beetroot to your little one! The pear gives it a bit of sweetness which offsets the earthy flavour of the beetroot. It’s so simple to make!

 

Beetroots and pearsYou will need:

2 beetroots – peeled and roughly chopped

1 pear – peeled and roughly chopped

 

 

 

Put the chopped beetroot in a saucepan and boil till soft. You could also steam or microwave – up to you. Reserve some of the cooking juices for later.

Blend the cooked beetroot and the raw pear until smooth, adding as much of the reserved cooking juice as necessary to get your preferred consistency. You could use a bit of water instead of the reserved cooking juices if you’d prefer.

Serve straight away, pop into freezer portions for later, or spoon as much as you need into a Super Squish pouch for a fabulous meal on the go.

Beetroot and pear puree

Banana cookie dough ice cream

Cookie dough banana ice cream

Who doesn’t love a dollop of delicious, creamy ice cream? Even when the weather gets colder? It’s probably one of my favourite desserts and my four year old would eat it at every meal if I let him!

Obviously all the additional sugar in the traditional dessert isn’t ideal and means that it’s kept as a ‘sometimes’ food in our house. Frozen banana ice creams are a win. They are full of healthy fats and, without added sugar, they are a fabulous gelato substitute. Not exactly like the original dessert, but I think they are just as delicious. The secret is to make sure the bananas are as ripe as possible because they are the only source of sweetness in the dish. This ice cream is very rich, so a little goes a long way. It makes a yummy creamy squishy treat on the go when served in a Super Squish pouch.

Recipe

You will need:

  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • about 250ml coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter or another unsweetened nut butter of your choice – I love the Meridian brand!
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Method

Peel the bananas and chop up into small pieces then freeze. Freeze in small batches – small enough to fit in your food processor. This is very important, as if you don’t freeze in small portions, it is impossible to put in the food processor. Blitz the frozen banana with all the other ingredients until smooth and creamy. Place into a freezable container or spoon into Super Squish pouches and freeze. Stir the banana ice cream every 30 minutes or so (if you remember!) until it’s frozen.

Delicious! Tastes like cookie dough…yum!

TIP: To make the banana ice cream nut free, substitute the nut butter for a tablespoon or two of cocoa for a chocolatey variation! You could also add chocolate chips before freezing.

ANOTHER TIP: You could spoon the banana ice cream into ice cube trays and then when frozen decant into a zip loc bag. You can then take a few cubes of ice cream out and pop into the Super Squish pouch when you want to go out. The ice cream will defrost a bit so its ready to eat! Its rich, so a few cubes are a perfect sweet treat.

Super Squish jelly pouch

Super Squish Jelly Pouches

My 4 year old son has been to a few birthday parties recently and has been introduced to jelly pouches. Basically these are pouches filled with a very very (VERY!!) sweet jelly kind of stuff. Of course the kids love them! What’s not to love?

I happened to look at the sugar content in the jelly pouch and saw that each pouch contains the equivalent of 4.7 sugar cubes or 18.8g sugar – which is half the sugar in a can of sugary cola! I get that these sugars are naturally occurring sugars in the fruit from which the fruit juice is made, but still, too much sugar in our diets isn’t good. According to the Sugar Smart app (launched by Public Health England), a 4-6 year old shouldn’t have more than 5 sugar cubes or 19g of sugar a day. So one little pouch has almost maxed out the recommended daily sugar allowance in one go!

I’m not saying that I won’t let my son have sweet treats, including fruit juices, but I’d like to keep them as just that, a treat, every now and then. My aim is to try as best I can, to find lower sugar alternatives to some of these treats. This led me to do some research into making my own jelly from reduced sugar fruit juice. I found an article in the Guardian called the Universal Jelly Principle with a tagline of “Almost any food can be made into a jelly by following a few simple guidelines”. I couldn’t resist the challenge so gave it a go.

I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to make my own reduced sugar jelly pouches! Of course, they first had to go through rigorous taste testing but thankfully my 4 year old gave them a thumbs up. The added bonus is that the jelly has a third of the sugar found in the store bought equivalent. I’m now feeling brave and will definitely be experimenting with new recipes!

Ingredients:

Reduced sugar fruit juice – I wanted a fresh juice that didn’t have added sweetener, so I went for Innocent Light & Juicy Peach and Raspberry. It does produce a cloudy jelly with a bit of a grainy texture, so if your little one has a problem with textured foods, you might want to try and use a clear juice as a start.

Gelatine sheets – I used Costa brand as recommended by a friend – you can buy it from Amazon/Waitrose/Ocado. Any gelatine sheets would no doubt work as well.

Method (based on the method in the Guardian article): fills 4 Super Squish pouches

-NOTE:  As I was making the jelly in the pouches and I wasn’t unmolding them, I used about 4.5 gelatine sheets to 600ml liquid. I would suggest reading the article first, as the amount of gelatine required varies with the amount of liquid you are using.
– Cut up the gelatine sheets into small pieces and put into a small metal bowl
– Boil water in a pan on the stove and turn down heat and allow to simmer
– Pour a small amount of the juice over the gelatine pieces so that they are just covered
– Place the bowl containing the gelatine and fruit juice over the boiling water and stir until the gelatine dissolves
– Take the bowl off the heat, add the remaining fruit juice and stir well to mix
– Pour into the Super Squish pouches and place in the fridge to set. It should be set in a few hours.

Unlike the store bought jelly pouches, these are best if eaten cold.

 

Brilliant banana oats

Brilliant banana oats

Take a stroll down the cereal aisle in most supermarkets (if not all!) and you’ll see that it’s typically dominated by pack after pack of brightly coloured, cartoon decorated cereal boxes filled with sugary cereals…at children’s eye level! I’m sure if any of you have ever wheeled a small child along this aisle or, heaven forbid, tried to sneak past this aisle, you will understand my frustration at having to listen to ‘Mummy, go back, I want to see the tiger on that box!’ and the ensuing explanation as to why we can’t take the tiger box home with us – or variations on that theme. It’s not as if we never eat sugar in our house, but I’m trying to make a concerted effort to limit our sugar intake where possible. If you are on this journey – like me – then keep reading 🙂

As a result, I now read the labels on most of the things I buy to check the sugar content. I’ve noticed that many so-called ‘healthy’ kids cereals with ‘no refined sugar’, actually have other sugar/syrup added. Not good.

This brings us to Brilliant Banana Oats. It’s a super easy recipe that I created while trying to think how I could make my son’s breakfast oats sweeter without adding syrup/sugar/honey etc. It’s now a staple breakfast in our house for the whole family. In fact, my husband (who cycles into work every day and needs something to keep him going till lunchtime) commented that having oats for breakfast, instead of his other cereal, means he can go without eating until lunchtime whereas the other cereal doesn’t seem to touch sides. Go oats go!

This is a great breakfast/morning snack for little ones when you’re weaning them too – you can pop the warm oats into a Super Squish pouch and head out. It’s probably good to add a little more liquid to the pot if you’re going to put into a pouch to prevent it becoming stodgy. Experiment and see what works for you.

Ingredients: (1 adult serving, so if making for a little one you might want to adjust quantities):

40-50g porridge oats (if you need to make this gluten free, just buy gluten free oats)

200 -250ml milk (dairy or alternative if you need to go dairy-free) – you’ll need to play around with this quantity depending on how thick you like your oats. Check on the oat packet for the manufacturers suggestions.

1 ripe banana – the riper the banana, the sweeter the oat porridge will be!

Peel and mash the banana well. Add the banana mixture to the oats in a pot and combine. Add the milk and stir till well mixed. Cook on the stove top till cooked (Check oat packet for suggested cooking time).

Serve immediately or cool slightly and pour into a Super Squish pouch for eating a little later. You could also add fruit puree or top with berries and yoghurt.

Fabulous dairy-free fish pie

Fabulous Dairy-Free Fish Pie

There are so many nutritional benefits of adding fish to our diets. When my son was starting to eat solid food, good old fish pie was a favourite dish of mine to get him to eat fish, in addition to the childhood staple of fish fingers (of course!!).

I used to make fish pie with the traditional white sauce, but as he grew a bit older he started to refuse to eat it! I did some some internet research to try and find alternative recipes that hopefully would be acceptable to the increasingly fussy toddler. I came upon a recipe using coconut milk which I have adapted and made my own. It’s such a versatile recipe – you can add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, and whatever fish you prefer. Typically avoid smoked fish, or add it in small quantities, as it has a strong flavour that not all kids will like.

I’m on a mission to ‘Make Veg The Hero’! Basically, I want to try and get my son to eat loads of healthy vegetables, which typically means disguising them as much as possible. This dish will allow you to sneakily introduce vegetables of your choice into the meal. WIN! The key step in this recipe is to use a food processor/small blender to blitz the vegetables into teeny, tiny pieces.

This also makes a great quick family supper – I serve it over egg noodles or spiralised courgettes. If you add more coconut milk it becomes more like a soup.

Ingredients:

– Half a small head of cauliflower
– Half a small head of broccoli
– 1 onion
– about 1 tablespoon of olive oil / coconut oil
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 red pepper (deseeded)
– 1 carrot
– juice of a lime
– a handful of flat leaf parsely – chopped (optional)
– about 600g skinless/deboned fish – e.g. salmon, white fish (I buy 2 packs of Sainsburys fish pie mix, but it does have smoked haddock in it) – cut into bite sized chunks
– 1 to 2 400g tins of coconut milk (add 1 tin and then you can add more later, depending on how many vegetables you have added, to get the consistency you want)

Method:

Note: You can substitute the vegetables with any others you might have in your fridge – green beans, courgettes are great alternatives. Obviously if you add some frozen peas, you don’t need to blitz them but you can add them just before the end of the cooking time. You can also experiment with the quantities of vegetables you add. Use the quantities above as a guide, but it is such a versatile recipe that you can amend it very easily.

Fabulous dairy-free fish pie

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot on a low/medium heat – you don’t want the garlic to burn. Blitz the onions into fine pieces and crush the garlic. Add to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile blitz the remaining vegetables as you did the onions and add to the pan. Cook on a med/low heat for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft, stirring regularly. Add the tin of coconut milk, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the fish to the pot, gently stirring so that the fish is covered by the coconut milk (add more coconut milk if you need to). Poach the fish for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. TIP: Avoid stirring the fish around too much while cooking to avoid the fish breaking up into tiny bits.

 

Season with lime juice to taste, and add salt and pepper to taste (if adding). Serve with mashed sweet potato, rice, noodles or accompaniment of your choice.

Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 children with extra left over, depending on your portion sizes!

If you are feeding this to a little one as part of the weaning process, blend/pulse in a food processor to the desired consistency. Pop into Super Squish pouches and freeze or refrigerate if not using straight away.

Butternut smoothie

November’s raw butternut smoothie

I need to say upfront that this just might be my favourite smoothie recipe so far! Quite surprising, as the thought of adding raw butternut to a smoothie isn’t something that I would instinctively think of as being yummy!

Pumpkin and butternut are in season at the moment and, although we’ve used butternut in this recipe, you can easily substitute pumpkin or any other squash. The really great thing about this butternut smoothie is that it’s predominately made of vegetables. So without exerting too much effort, it’s a fabulous way to get more veggies into your kids (or your diet) without them even knowing.

Ingredients:

– about 100g butternut (great way to use up any left over bits of squash you might have in the fridge!) – peel and cut into discs/chunks
– about 100g very ripe banana – weighed without peel (frozen would be good, but not essential)
– half an avocado (ours was around 65g), skin removed
– 200ml unsweetened almond milk – our preferred brand is Rude Health as the blend of rice and almond milk adds a nice nutty sweetness to the smoothie (TIP: you may want to add more milk to taste as the avocado can make the smoothie very thick)
– we didn’t need to add any honey as the smoothie ended up being sweet enough thanks to the ripeness of the banana!
– you could add a few ice blocks too

Blitz it all in a blender till smooth and enjoy! This recipe will fill about 4 Super Squish pouches (depending on how much liquid you add – it’s a personal preference kind of thing!).
Ingredients raw butternut smoothie