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I cannot get her complex carbs up even close to what she should be having

Hi Leanne
My daughter is 13 months old and whilst the foods she eats are healthy, I feel I cannot get her complex carbs up even close to what she should be having. She enjoys many vegies, fruits and eats cheese and for breakfast, all she will eat is dry cereal and even then it`s only a few pieces. We normally eat wholemeal bread as that`s what my son has been given since he started eating solids so after a few months, I decided to try fibre and mineral enriched white bread but she still won`t eat toast or sandwiches.

Am I worrying too much? Sometimes she doesn`t eat dinner either, so the only meal she generally eats best is lunch. Oh and I give her pasta too, with or without sauce and again, it`s only 2 or 3 small pieces. Tried vermicelli noodles, baked beans, home made vegie muffins, nope won`t eat it.

I`m at my wits end as my son (now 5 and a half) is a very healthy and big eater and I had no problems with him. Hopefully it`s a phase with my daughter but I have a feeling it will last a while....

Answer: Hi There, Fussy eating can really have you ‘pulling your hair out’, especially if you have had a great eater first! I have a six year old who is showing signs of coming out of it, but only glimpses. I still sneak stuff into all sorts of meals, makes it easier to go with it when I know he has been getting healthy food albeit disguised. If your toddler is maintaining her weight then I wouldn’t worry too much about the complex carbs, if the food she does it is healthy (and it sounds like it is) then you are doing the right things. Generally, nutrition becomes an issue when the foods being offered (and eaten) are inadequate sources of nutrients. Most health care professionals will say as long as your little one is gaining weight at their usual rate and is happy and healthy then they won`t starve themself. But as a parent that can be little comfort. I believe it comes down to:
  1. Persisting with offering the healthy stuff even if it is rejected
  2. Sneaking in the good stuff where you can which makes avoiding the battles (no-one wins those ones) easier
  3. Getting them involved
  4. Offering a healthy supper down the line if dinner is rejected and your toddler complains of being hungry
  5. Trying to use the foods they do eat as a basis for making other food/meals that are more likely to be enjoyed. For example cream cheese on a bagel, pasta with bacon and a cream cheese base, bread and butter pudding made with calcium enriched milk such as soy or rice, try sweet potato chips etc.
  6. Swap lunch and dinner if that helps and make meal portions achievable (small but healthy).
  7. Check milk or other fluids aren’t interfering with their appetite.
  8. Remember that food rejection is a normal behaviour for most toddlers and preschoolers.
  9. Repeat the mantra "this like all things in infancy and childhood, will pass" and it will!
Remember that food rejection is a normal behaviour for most toddlers and preschoolers. Smoothies are a great way of adding food groups into a diet. You can add baby rice cereal for iron, ground nuts and seeds for fats and protein etc and so on. They are also a real treat for children as ice-blocks. I have a tip sheet on fussy eating on Huggies that might have some pointers, but again I really think it would be best to get some help with this, the link is: Picky Eating Also I think the Jessica Seinfeld book using purees is a good idea, but I reduce the sugar, use olive oil and don’t add salt, I also have a recipe book based on my fussy foodie. If your toddler isnt gaining weight at her usual rate and you feel you really would like some help and also to check that she is getting all her needs, there are a few options you might like to consider. If you wanted to start out with the obvious you might like to see a naturopath, nutritionist or dietitian who specialises in children. They will be able to firstly review what your little one does eat and tell if there may be some nutritional issues to be addressed and if so, how they are best dealt with. Then advise you on fussy eating and what tips and tricks might help. Another option if you really feel things are beyond this is a feeding expert, for example the gals at No Fuss Feeding (see links below) are excellent with feeding issues, and it’s their specialty. Or in a similar vein an early childhood consultant who can help with behavioural tips. Aussie: www.nofussfeeding.com.au NZ: www.paediatricfeedingdisordersclinic.co.nz/index.htm So I hope that gives you some ideas, keep offering the good stuff. Think also laterally, don`t forget things like baby rice cereal added into meals it is a good source of iron, things like pulses are a good alternative to vegies and also foods like goji berries are packed full of nutrition. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 08 Jul 2009