ANSWERED: Your most commonly-asked child nutrition questions - Essential Baby - Brand Discover

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ANSWERED: Your most commonly-asked child nutrition questions

If you feel like you’re alone in your struggles to feed your toddler, rest assured you are most certainly not. We spoke to two professionals to find out what the parents they see in their practices are most concerned about when it comes to feeding their children.

 

The child health nurse: texture resistance

Jane Barry has been a clinical nurse specialising in maternal and child health nursing for nearly 30 years.

In her clinical experience, one of the main problems she sees is resistance to texture in foods.

“Some kids don’t like to chew varying textures and that’s often because they haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use their tongue and teeth,” she says.

Ms Barry points to the growing prevalence of pouch foods as one cause of this trend. “These are kids who seem to only like gooey foods,” she says, adding that prolonged use of purees not only creates an aversion to chewing but can also delay speech, since children need to eat foods with texture in order to develop the tongue muscles for talking.

 

The child health nurse: texture resistance

Jane Barry has been a clinical nurse specialising in maternal and child health nursing for nearly 30 years.

In her clinical experience, one of the main problems she sees is resistance to texture in foods.

“Some kids don’t like to chew varying textures and that’s often because they haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use their tongue and teeth,” she says.

Ms Barry points to the growing prevalence of pouch foods as one cause of this trend. “These are kids who seem to only like gooey foods,” she says, adding that prolonged use of purees not only creates an aversion to chewing but can also delay speech, since children need to eat foods with texture in order to develop the tongue muscles for talking.

 

Nutrition and the role of parents

In addition to issues with resistance to foods that require chewing, Ms Barry also often sees toddlers who are pacified with sweet and processed foods and have therefore come to see food as a treat. “The first thing parents need to ask when offering a toddler food is ‘will this support my child’s growth?’” and reminds parents that when it comes to feeding their children, nutrition is paramount.

She also believes that parents need to set a good example for their child. “We hear parents say, ‘I hate vegetables so my children do, too’ and this can lead the child to believe it’s natural to dislike them,” she explains. “This is why positive role modeling is so important.”

Ms Barry says parents need to understand the role they play in dealing with fussy eaters. “The parent’s job is to prepare, buy and offer nutritious food choices but it is the toddler’s job to decide whether and how much they eat,” she says.

She advises that parents should make meal time a social event. “Sit down together and don’t make the child the focus of the meal,” she says, “and remember that toddlers are often suspicious of new foods so you may need to offer it to them 10, 11 or even 12 times.”

“Finally, remember that children have small stomachs – a very small snack or even too much water can fill them up – which is why ensuring that what they do eat is actually nutritious is so important.”

The dietitian: confidence is key

Alex Parker is an accredited practicing dietitian and co-founder of The Biting Truth, a practice focused on helping families achieve optimal health and wellbeing through good nutrition. When she sees parents often it’s because they’re baffled by the sheer volume of material available on the subject of feeding children.

“More and more we’re seeing parents coming to our practice who are simply confused by seeing and reading so much information,” she explains.

When she speaks to parents it’s often a lack of confidence that is driving their need to seek help. In those situations, she tries to remind parents that it’s only exceedingly rarely that a child will have a legitimate problem due to food refusal.

“The bottom line is, your child will eat – they won’t starve themselves,” she says.

 

The biggest worries

When it comes to specific parental questions there is often a focus on a certain food. “Some of the main questions we get are from parents who want their child to eat a particular food, often veggies. They know their child needs to be eating more so they’re worries are focused on that that.”

Ms Parker suggests that rather than focusing on these sorts of specifics parents should look at overall signs of good health.

“They should ask themselves, is my child having regular bowel movements, are they sleeping well, able to move and play easily and are they meeting fine and gross motor skill milestones,” she suggests. “Proper nutrition allows children to do all of that.”

While most often there is no cause for concern, Ms Parker says parents should definitely seek advice from their GP or early childhood nurse who can properly track their growth.

Finally, Ms Parker says that persistence with feeding should not be underestimated. “When parents are struggling to get children to eat it really is about being persistent and confident. Don’t be overly worried if your child doesn’t finish or even try the food you give him, because if you’re anxious that comes out and will affect the child’s behaviour at meal times,” she says.

 

In a perfect world, the perfect toddler would be a perfect eater. In the real world there is S-26 GOLD® TODDLER, a supplementary milk drink designed to assist your toddler when dietary intakes of energy and nutrients may be inadequate. 

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