Fussy 14mth old

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Fussy 14mth old

Postby Gumnutbaby » Tue 14 May, 2013 8:06 pm

My 14mth old will not eat finger foods anymore, other than snacks. She used to eat steamed veggies, toast and sandwiches, and now wont have a bar of them (unless it is raisin toast). She is only having two bottles a day (morning and night) and they total less than 500mls so i dont think she is filling up on them as she will eat anything that comes from a jar or packet. I am concerned that she should be using her finger skills more and eating more of a variety of 'adult' foods.
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Re: Fussy 14mth old

Postby NgalaOnline » Wed 15 May, 2013 1:43 pm

Hi Gumnutbaby

Thank you for your post. The issues your daughter is having with regard to feeding are very normal and common for her age. Typically at age one and/or two toddlers will experience a phase of fussy eating where they will begin to reject foods that they have previously enjoyed, and seek to limit themselves to a small range of foods. These food refusal phases often involve "quirks" such as that the child only wants to eat food of a certain colour or texture, or will only eat food from a packet or jar. This fussy eating can be very frustrating for many parents, but is usually not a concern nutritionally so long as parents continue to offer healthy options and do not begin to offer unhealthy alternatives.

Jarred food is nutritionally adequate to meet a child's needs if they are consuming a variety of it, although it is best where possible to avoid brands that contain starches and fillers which do not contain nutrition but can fill a child up. The main concern with a child limiting themselves to only jarred food is that the texture is usually more mushy than a toddler requires (which is usually why the child likes this type of food) and the tastes can be bland and repetitive. It is helpful for toddlers to proceed onto foods with more texture that requires chewing as this helps to develop the mouth muscles for speech. Many parents have success by mixing some homemade food (such as soft pasta, minced meat, cooked vegetables) with the home made food and then over a few weeks increasing the texture of the home made food and reducing the proportion of store bought food to homemade food. Children may be more receptive to being fed if they can have a spoon to play with and "help" with at the same time. Other parents find that they may be able to get their child to eat homemade food by placing into a jar. Some parents find they can get their child to eat food by providing distraction at the same time, such as feeding in the bath.

If these strategies do not seem to work, it is best to not be disheartened but to just keep trying these same techniques every so often to see if your child has become more receptive to them. Research shows that toddlers do develop a genuine fear of new foods, known as "food neophobia". Research shows that the best way to respond to fussy eating is to maintain a very calm and neutral approach to any food refusal, but to continue to offer the rejected foods to the child often (and served alongside foods she does like) with little attention or comment given to whether she eats them or not. Research shows that strong encouragement or praise works in the same way as negativity or punishment (such as forcing a child to stay at the table till they have eaten something) in actually making the child MORE likely to resist the food. Toddlers will often pick up on parental anxiety about their food refusal and this can make them refuse it more. Serve your child small serves of the healthy foods you would like her to eat, and if she has not eaten it in a reasonable timeframe simply take it away and try again another time with the same food. Research shows that on average children need to be exposed to the same food 20 times before they will eat it, or often before they will even interact with it. Interaction such as touching, smelling or licking the food is all positive and is part of your child becoming familiar with the food. Eating with family members and being offered the same foods as what the family is eating is also shown to be very helpful in encouraging a child to eat new foods.

In the second year of life a toddler's growth rate decreases dramatically and therefore their appetite and need for energy also decrease. In the first year of life a baby will triple her weight whereas in the second year she will usually only put on 1-2kg. It is very common for toddlers to appear to "live on air" and eat much less than what they did as babies. It is often helpful to look at your child's intake over a week as they typically will have days where they eat better than others. Filling up on liquids is an issue for many toddlers. After 12 months it is best to cease using bottles and instead offer sippy cups. This is better for dental health, but also toddlers do tend to consume more liquid than they actually require with a bottle, and as a toddler’s appetite is so small it is common for children to use liquids to displace food intake. As excessive cow's milk consumption contributes to iron deficiency anaemia for many toddlers it is important that toddlers do not have more than 600mls of cows milk in a day as a maximum. It is good that your child is having less than this, but it would be beneficial to consider eliminating both bottles or even just one. Your child would be able to meet her calcium requirements with one milk drink (from a cup) a serve of cheese and a yoghurt, and this would help her get used to accepting different flavours, chewing and getting her calories from food rather than liquid. The fact that your daughter still happily eats raisin toast is positive - keep offering this to her as it helps her keep the skill of self feeding. You may be able to serve it alongside some fruit to see if she will expand herself feeding to something served along with the raisin toast.

I hope this information is helpful. You may find the following links helpful:

http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthT ... 02&id=1756
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthT ... 02&id=2937
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthT ... 02&id=2475
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthT ... 02&id=2836

Please ring the Ngala helpline if you would like more help or support.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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