Episode 6 Live Q&A: Karen Fischer (Nutritionist)
Former TV presenter, Karen Fischer, is now a qualified nutritionist; health columnist and an author (health book due for release in 2008). She specialises in skin complaints, eczema and diet. She has answered questions from our Huggies Club members as part of the Live Q&A session following episode 6 of Mums & Bubs.
For more information visit her website Health Before Beauty.
My child is three. What should I be feeding her?
It’s important to make sure your child eats protein every day (preferably with every main meal). PROTEIN foods include: fish, eggs, chicken, red meat and ‘combined’ vegetarian protein such as beans/legumes mixed with grains (like baked beans on grainy toast). A diet rich in FISH is also important for optimal brain development. Favour fish that is rich in omega-3 include trout, salmon and sardines and avoid larger fish varieties such as flake, which can be high in mercury. If your child is vegetarian or allergic to fish then give her ½ teaspoon of omega-3 rich flaxseed oil, mixed into breakfast cereal, yoghurt or onto cooled vegetables (do not heat this pleasant tasting oil). Also feed her VEGETABLES twice a day with lunch and dinner. Each serve should contain at least two types of veggies and one serve a day should be of the green leafy variety. She also needs to be drinking water throughout the day.
How do I get my four year old to eat a healthy breakfast? Since visiting his Grandma (who spoils him) all he wants for breakfast is Coco pops.
This is a common problem! Unfortunately everything tastes bland to a child after they eat sugary foods for a few days but don’t worry, they soon forget. For now, tell you child that Coco Pops is “holiday food” and not “every day food.” Let him know that he can have it as a treat when he is away at Grandma’s (as long as he is not there too often). If he visits her on a weekly basis, you may need to set some strict guidelines for Grandma as you all need to work together to help educate your child to be healthy. When trying to convince your child to eat healthy food PERSISTENCE is the key – when you say no, mean it and stick to it. Remember it took weeks for your child to master the art of walking and it will also take a bit of time for them to get used to eating a healthy breakfast.
My child hates vegetables. Is there any alternatives I can feed him?
No. Nothing can replicate the beneficial effects of vegetables, especially dark green ones that are rich in folate, antioxidants and chlorophyll (which is the green pigment of the plant and not available in other food groups). According to the scientific research, veggies make healthy red blood cells and supply substances that fight infections and disease. Vegetables also promote good behaviour.
My 3 year daughter does not like to eat any meat or vegies, she only wants to eat pasta or cous cous. I have tired hiding meat and vegies in the pasta and cous cous and now she just wants plain pasta with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Hi, I know it can be difficult feeding a fussy child but, as you know, they need to get a larger variety of nutrients once they turn one. Your daughter is now at the age where she can understand reasoning. So try linking eating vegetables and protein foods like chicken, red meat, egg and fish to activities she loves. Such as “Eating your carrots will help you to climb better”, “Chicken and fish help you to grow tall and strong like Mummy” (as protein is vital for muscle building, wound repair etc). If she loves swimming link healthy foods to swimming and so forth. Children want to know “What’s in it for them” – if you can answer this for her satisfactorily, then you can change her eating habits.
What age is ok to give a baby weet bix?
Hi, Weet Bix can be giving to children over the age of one. Add milk and let it get a bit mushy before giving it to your child. Add stewed fruit for extra goodness.
How many meals a day do you start your 6 month old on and what time of the day is best?
If you haven’t already introduced solids, then begin your child on one small meal a day (approximately the size of 2 teaspoons). Breakfast is a good time to begin, give them a morning bottle and then before their second bottle mid-morning, give them some food (such as mushy baby rice). Introduce one new food every three days. Also, giving your child some food at night may help promote a good night’s sleep as it fills their tummy for longer than milk alone.
Hi Karen, my son is 13 months old and I am still giving him stage 2 formula for his bottles – is there any harm in continuing to do this until he stops having bottles? He has regular cows milk on his cereal and also from a cup at mealtimes. Many thanks, Bek.
Hi Bek, No there’s no certainly harm as the formula provides extra nutrients. However, make sure your child isn’t having too much dairy as it can make them not want to eat other foods/meals. Three bottles/cups a day of milk and formula is sufficient.
I am wanting to know what can i feed my 8 month old. Lunchtimes is the hardest. I am really stuck on what to give him and want the best for him. Also he has extremely bad eczema and was wondering what is the best way to control this??
I’ll be talking about eczema on Mums & Bubs on the 15th May so stay tuned for that show! However, in the mean time… best meals for eczema babies include baby rice, stewed pears, stewed apple, potato, mashed kidney beans, mashed banana, mashed paw paw/papaya. Mix mashed kidney beans with rice and pumpkin or potato.
However, avoid avocado, tomato, mushroom, spinach, strawberries and most other fruits as they can irritate eczema.
I would just like to know what can i do for my daughter who is about to turn 1 on Sunday she is a very fussy eater will only eat deserts and I can’t get her to eat anything but that I know its not good for her but i don’t know how to change it. Also she doesn’t drink a lot of milk how much milk should she be having a day? She weighs 9.2kg
Hi, Once a child turns one they only need three bottles of milk per day (plus they can have dairy form other sources such as yoghurt). I wouldn’t worry too much as long as your child is getting a variety of foods in her diet.
Also, it sounds like your daughter is addicted to the taste of sugar. Of course you don’t have to take my advice but I’d adopt the ‘cruel to be kind’ approach and ban desserts for a week. It sounds cruel but it is for your child’s own good (take it from me: I was a fussy eater and I grew up eating a lot of junk food and my health suffered greatly!). Giver her one full day’s warning so she knows what is coming. You can say “Today you can have this dessert, but tomorrow there will be no desserts – only foods to make you strong and clever!” (word it in a simple way that your child will understand). My daughter is the same, she’d eat desserts all day if she could so we have rules: “Friday is ice block day” etc. and we stick to it. Hope this helps. Good luck!
Hi Karen, My 12 month old daughter Brooke doesn’t eat very much. Ever since she was six months old, we have struggled to get solid food into her. After much angst, I was advised that she will eat when she is ready and in time she has started to eat a bit such as chicken, rice, grapes, bananas, fruit jellies and toast but she really still only wants her bottle most of the time. The volume of solid food she has is very little. She is interested in food when we are eating but she still isn’t having very much. My main concern is, can she survive healthily on formula still or are there any other food options I can try. Worried Parent, Cathy
Hi Cathy, It sounds like your daughter has a dairy addiction (this is common, my daughter had one too). However it’s really important to cut down their bottles at the age of one as children will not thrive if they favour milk over solid foods (and I found this out the hard way!). Don’t be too concerned as you can teach your daughter to eat more foods, although this may take some creativity! Begin by only giving her three bottles a day but make sure they’re AFTER her meals, not before (although a bottle when she first wakes up is still okay if that is a part of your routine). Let her know that she needs food to make her strong like Mummy (or Daddy). Also make eating healthy foods fun for her. Let her watch you plant a veggie garden (silver beet is easiest to grow) and get her to help water the plants and pick foods for her lunch/dinner. Always eat with her and show her that you enjoy eating food. Persistence is the key! Good luck.
Hi Karen, I have a 7 month old. Although he was born 5 weeks premmie, he is very chubby now and weighs about 10kg. He has recently been waking a lot during the night (a new thing) and I have been advised to increase his solids dramatically. Since doing so, his sleep has improved. I am just a little concerned that I am overfeeding him, and I don’t want to create a problem with his eating habits. I have been told that they will walk it off once they start moving, and he won’t eat if he isn’t hungry. Do you agree?
Yes, children do lose weight once they start walking but children not only eat to satisfy hunger, they also feed for comfort and just because it feels good. I don’t know if you’re still feeding him at night but it would be best to begin dropping the night feeds (one by one). I think creating good sleep habits can be a better way to promote good sleep. You may want to read about ‘controlled crying’ to get him to sleep better.
I have a 7 and half month old I make all her vegies with every vegetable in it. I want to start introducing her to meat how do I and how do I cook the meat. Or is not old enough yet to have meat? And cooking her veggies and freezing them do i lose nutrition from freezing?
Hi, You can begin to introduce small amounts meat as long as it’s pureed. Chop up a teaspoon of good quality chicken or use beef mince, puree it and then lightly fry or steam it then add it to vegetables and rice etc. If your child seems to be able to eat it without problems then continue to give her meat – you can be the judge if she is ready or not. And freezing her foods is perfectly fine for nutritional content (and very handy too!)
I have always had trouble with my son who is on neocate advance formula as he is milk protein intolerant he does not like food at all what I find hard is my dietician has not had kids and find it hard to get him to eat she is only giving me text book case on how to help my son what can i do to help him eat as he is 19 months old and refuses food
Hi, It sounds like your child is favouring the formula so it’s time to get tough! Your child should only need 2 bottles/cups of formula per day and he needs to know that food is enjoyable and it makes him strong! I have information for you on the Nutrition Fact Sheet on the Huggies website and also ready what I recommended in some of the previous questions.
Good Morning, Could you please tell me what the difference between an ‘Intolerance’ and an ‘allergy’ is. Also do you know any good substitutes for milk in recipes? Kristy mum of twins
Hi, An allergy shows up as a more pronounced reaction, such as a histamine response where swelling or redness and itching occurs. An intolerance is a milder reaction that is harder to diagnose – it can show up as tummy pains, fatigue, bad behaviour or poor concentration etc. If a recipe requires dairy milk, you can generally just substitute soy milk in it’s place. The RPA Hospital allergy unit has a cook book called “Friendly Food” which includes dairy free recipes.
Hi Karen Do you have any suggestions on how I can get my 14month old to eat fresh fruit.
Hi, Yes I do… make eating fruit fun for your child. Cut fruit into smiley faces and mix them with foods she/he likes such as yoghurt. Also check out the nutrition Fact Sheet on the Huggies website.
Hi Karen If there is now research showing that the additives in bread are not good for kids what is the alternatives? thanks Kerrie
Hi Kerrie, Luckily, there are plenty of breads without preservatives at local supermarkets and corner shops. They will usually be marketed as being “preservative free” on the packaging.
Hi Karen Is snacking between meals ok? or should I just stick to 3 meals?
Hi, You can have 1 to 2 extra snacks per day but keep them to a set time such as 11am or 3pm as you don’t want to graze all day as you can end up overeating.
How do I get my 41/2 year old to eat food like egg, mixed foods like casseroles. He likes to eat his food plain and as it comes.
Hi, As long has you boy likes to eat a variety of foods such as protein/meats/fish, grains/rice/pasta and vegetables then he is eating okay. If you want him to enjoy the same meals as the rest of the family then try to get him involved with the cooking – make it fun for him – get him stirring the casserole ingredients and allow him to choose some of the vegetables etc. It may take some creative thinking on your part! Good luck! (also refer to the Nutrition Fact Sheet that I wrote on the Huggies website).
For more information see Parenting .