Category Archives: Weaning

Why is my child a fussy eater? 7 reasons your child may be a food refuser

Anna, our registered Nutritional Therapist, looks at some reasons for fussy eating in children. Anna works with children and women in Bristol or via Skype. 

There may be aspects of your child’s diet which can influence their attitude to food, or there might be things to consider about your expectations and attitudes. Here are some potential reasons for you to consider why they may be a fussy eater. If you’d like a 1:1 consultation for your diet or for your child please let us know and set up a free 15 minute appointment

  1. Nutrient deficiency – zinc

When our bodies are low in zinc, it affects the appetite and taste buds. Imagine if food tastes very bland to a child a meal time isn’t very appealing. Your child may have lost their appetite if they aren’t getting enough zinc in the diet.

How you can help:

Including zinc rich foods in the diet can help to address this, or if very low taking a supplement may help. (Do not take zinc for long periods of time as it can interfere with other minerals). Zinc rich foods are in seafood, red meat, green leafy veg, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, brown rice, lentils, pulses, wholegrains, eggs).

  1. Nutrient deficiency – iron

A lack of iron in the diet can lead to fatigue and low appetite. It can also lead to feelings of nausea which could put your child off their food.

How you can help:

Iron can be found in red meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, egg yolk, pulses (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, beans), wholemeal bread, sweet potato and dried fruits. If your child doesn’t eat any of these foods consider a supplement

  1. Unbalanced gut microflora – gut disbiosis

We need the bugs in our gut to help us digest food, so if the balance gets upset you may find that bowel function is altered or appetite changes. Taking antibiotics can wipe out large numbers of good bacteria, so can times of stress for your child (e.g. starting a new nursery, change in routine, or starting school) as well as eating a diet high in processed foods.

How you can help:

Consider a probiotic supplement. Food based probiotics are sauerkraut, kefir (fermented milk, or water) but as these are all ‘an acquired taste’ your child with a limited palate may not accept these new foods! Probiotics can be added to cold food or drink and are pretty tasteless.

  1. Food intolerance

If your child refuses to eat certain foods it’s possible their body is telling them it doesn’t feel right when they eat this type of meal.

How you can help:

Complete a diet diary to look at what your child eats over a week, and track any other symptoms they have. Consider seeing a nutritional therapist to review your child’s diet and manage any food sensitives. Do not cut out food groups without considering how to replace the nutrients from other sources.

  1. Constipation

If your child is very full they will not feel like adding to their blocked up intestines. We should all pass a bowel movement at least once a day, ideally 2-3 times. They may need more fibre if they struggle on the toilet regularly. Consider a probiotic as well to correct the balance of bacteria.

How you can help:

Ensure your child is eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. If they won’t eat these think about ways to sneakily increase the fibre (vegetables in cakes, smoothies, soups, hidden veg pasta souce) Look at the ERIC website for more information about constipation.  Consider a probiotic as well to correct the balance of bacteria.

  1. Control

Children need to feel some control over their lives, and this need starts to grow and expand as they do. They need some control over what they wear, their activities and their food. Sometimes our little ones have very limited control over their environment, routine or even play, so the one thing they can do is refuse food to show some control over their own body.

How you can help:

Allow your child some choice within healthy limits. Provide a choice of food at each mealtime, perhaps with one thing you know they like and some other new items. If you can, get them to join in food preparation so they can help choose veg at the supermarket. Depending on their age perhaps they can help you chop soft veg as you cook. Ask them whether they want carrots or broccoli for dinner tonight, would they prefer a banana or orange for pudding?

  1. Wanting to be grown up

Children may want to show how they are separate from you as their care givers as they get older. They may decide they no longer eat meat, or they don’t like a routine family favourite pudding. This is a normal part of growing up to help them separate from you and allows their growing independence.

How you can help:

Try not to take it personally if your child no longer shares the same food attitudes as you, and see this stage as a normal part of their development.

If you’d like a 1:1 consultation for your diet or for your child please let us know and set up a free 15 minute appointment

Is your child too clean? The role of bacteria in children’s gut health

Tips on how to influence and support your children’s gut health by our registered nutritional therapist Anna. Anna works with families including children to identify the optimal diet for individual health. 

Are you always using antibacterial handwash, sanitising your children’s hands at the park or bleaching away the bacteria in your kitchen? You might be thinking it’s the only way to fight off infections and keep your children safe.

Hygiene hypothesis

However, more studies are now linking the way we clean ourselves (sometimes a little obsessively) and the rise in childhood conditions such as asthma, eczema, food allergies and hay fever. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ means our children are growing up in an overly sanitised world today and they are too clean. Without small challenges to the immune system during early childhood, the immune system doesn’t learn to respond to antigens. This means it may go into overdrive when it meets gluten, peanuts or pollen.

The best way to help your child’s immune system is to let them get a bit more dirty. This means playing in the dirt, cuddling the dog, exploring the garden. It will help if you allow these small challenges to the immune system to be part of their life.

When we use antibacterial handwash or bleach our kitchen surfaces we kill off ALL the bacteria, good and bad. 95% of the world’s bacteria are not harmful to us. Removing all the bugs leaves room for the most pathogenic (bad) bugs to quickly take hold. We only need to reduce bacteria in our cleaning, not remove it all completely. Washing up with hot soapy water is sufficient. 

When you definitely DO need the anti-bacterial support

If you’re dealing with a sickness bug, or poo (child’s or animals) then it is definitely worth ensuring your hands are super clean.  Hand sanitiser, hot washing cycle in the machine and anti-bacterial spray are all useful in this instance.

Diversity in gut bacteria is important

The diversity of bugs in our gut is what keeps us healthy. We need lots of different types of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites to keep us healthy and our immune system strong. Diversity of microbes comes from eating a varied diet, rich in fibre, lots of vegetables and plenty of time in nature playing freely.

How to get help for your family

If you or your children have allergies, asthma or eczema do get in touch to see how Anna could support your family through nutritional therapy. Addressing the diet and any underlying gut issues can have huge impact on these common conditions. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation – email to book a slot to speak to her – info@the-gentle-touch.com 

blueberries

Help! My 12 Month Old Won’t Eat – 10 Tips For Feeding a One Year Old

In a recent 1:1 weaning session yesterday I met a one year old who had become very fussy about eating suddenly, and seemed to reject a lot of foods that were accepted before. Sound familiar to any of you?? We often hear parents saying ‘My 12 month old won’t eat, and they were brilliant before!’

We looked at everything the child had eaten over a week, and I took a brief health history too to review all his body systems (e.g. sleep patterns, digestive health, mood, skin health etc) Here are some of the things I talk about with the parents. 

  1. Look at your child’s nutrition over a week, not a day. Try not to worry if they go through phases of not eating much. We all accept times when baby’s have a growth spurt, but we’re often less happy to accept times when their appetite reduces.
  2. Know that babies rate of growth slows down between 1-2 so they may need less energy than before.
  3. Neophobia ‘fear of new things’ is common between 12-24 months and is a totally normal phase of development. Babies become distrustful of new things for a period of time.
  4. If babies begin to feed themselves at this age they may also eat less, and take longer for meals until they get the co-ordination right. Consider whether you allow enough time for meals to let them feed themselves or is there a rush to finish due to the family schedule? Also aim to end a meal within 20 minutes if they are finished so he / she doesn’t get bored.
  5. Provide a sample of different foods at each meal, some new, some well accepted foods
  6. Give small amounts at a time if food is thrown on the floor. Allow them to trial their new skills of pincer grip and give them blueberries, peas, chickpeas to pick up one by one. 
  7. Think about what else is going on for them at this time (e.g. have their passed a new developmental milestone such as learning to walk, talk) or has their routine changed suddenly?
  8. Try food in different forms if texture is an issue. E.g. beans on their own, raw mushrooms/ courgette, or roasting instead of boiling veg. 
  9. Keep on offering a range of healthy foods and if they don’t eat what you give at one meal don’t make a fuss, clear the food away and wait until the next mealtime. Don’t offer an alternative snack to fill them up, just accept they may not be hungry
  10. As always trust your instincts and if something feels wrong over an extended period of time consult your GP. Look for wet/dirty nappies, changes in mood, fever etc as normal.

If you’d like some individual support with feeding your family please get in touch. Anna comes to your home to talk through all your feeding issues and your baby can be there too, but it’s not essential. Book on info@the-gentle-touch.com or call 07812010412

BLW – Dealing with food waste

How do you deal with food waste in Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?

Baby Led Weaning can lead to some wasted food as your baby explores the motions of eating. For some babies picking up food, putting in their mouth can be rather messy with lots ending up on the floor. How should you deal with this food waste? 
 
If you’re giving your baby finger foods and a lot ends up on the floor how do you feel about it?
 
Some babies throw everything on the floor, it’s a kind of game to them, to see what happens when food gets dropped off the side of the highchair. They can see it as a kind of game and relish the reaction you give, so think about how you react when it happens. 
 
Some things you can consider are:
 
  • Limiting portion sizes so you only give a small amount at a time. When that’s eaten give a bit more.
  • If your baby throws the bowl off the highchair you can get bowls and plates with suction pads on to fix them to the tray.
  • Try a clean plastic floor covering (like a table cloth) under the high chair so food can be picked up and put back on the tray.
  • Remember it’s only a short while and whilst no-one wants to waste food it won’t be forever that your baby is exploring food in this way.
  • Limit meal times to 20 mins max – babies can get bored if left in their chair too long.
How do you deal with any food that gets dropped / thrown? Send us your tips or join our Facebook group (Baby Nutrition & Weaning) where we discuss tips for starting your baby on solid foods. 
 
If you’d like to learn more about Baby Nutrition and Weaning come to our next class or organise one for you and a group of friends at your home. Our bookings page has details of all our classes or email us to ask about organising a 1:1 session or private group class – info@the-gentle-touch.com 
 
 

Baby Weaning: My 6-9 month old baby isn’t interested in food!

It can be stressful if your baby doesn’t seem keen on solid foods. You want the best for your baby, and we all have an innate desire to feed the things we love (just see kids poking grass into a rabbits cage!) 

If your baby isn’t keen on eating as you introduce solid foods there are a couple of things to consider. (These pointers are for babies between 6-9 months in the first few months of weaning) 

  • Some people don’t take to food straight away – allow your baby time to explore food, putting together a picture of the smell, taste and texture of each food. 
  • Babies go through stages of growing, sometimes they eat more than others, so try to look at the trends over a week / month rather than a day.
  • Try not to panic – if your baby is still getting regular milk feeds with wet and dirty nappies he is still getting enough nutrients. At this stage food isn’t a major source of nutrients. The nutrient content of milk (mum’s milk or formula) won’t compare to a bit of carrot and some banana.
  • Offer what you’re having every time you sit down to eat and don’t make it a big deal. Sit down at the table together, put your baby in a highchair and give him the same as you, or offer him bits of your food whist you eat. 
  • If you’ve got to a point where you feel nothing is working and you’re really stressed then take a break for a couple of days.  Go back to milk only, and then start again 

If you’ve got past 9-10 months and your baby still isn’t interested in any food it might be worth getting some additional advice. Anna’s Baby Nutrition consultations are £45 for an hour, held at your home. FREE 15 minute phone consultations are available to see if you’d like to book a full session. 

Contact us for more details about the consultations or with any questions on weaning – info@the-gentle-touch.com. 

Develop healthy gut flora in your child

There is a lot we can do to improve the health of our children. Whilst the microbiome (gut flora) is developing we have an opportunity to improve how the immune system works.

Why is gut health important?

Around 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut and more research is always coming out that shows the link to our mental health, behaviours, insulin management and weight as well as links to hormones.

children holding grapes - The Gentle TouchYour baby’s microbiota is thought to develop in the womb, and more studies are coming out that support this hypothesis. Newborn babies have a complex microbial community within the gut within a few weeks of birth; this tends to fluctuate over the first 3 years of life when it becomes established.

Babies born via a vaginal birth have a more complex bacterial balance, but babies born by c-section gain the same bacterial complexity by 8 weeks of life. A more diverse bacterial mix can take up more room leaving less space for pathogens. Research is still in progress around whether the immune system is altered within this period of time and what we can do about it.

If one of the risk factors for an altered microbiome are present (born by c-section, formula fed baby, premature or significant time in hospital, early antibiotic treatment) then focussing on the diet and environment are particularly important.

How to help develop healthy gut flora for your children

  • Where possible breastfeed your baby for more than 4 months. Babies who were breasfed for more than 4 months show less types of bacteria in the gut.
  • Get a pet – Exposure to pets has been associated with reduced risk of atopic diseases like eczema, asthma and hay fever as well as obesity.
  • Play with the dirt – children growing up on traditional farms have very low rates of asthma, so exposure to animals and earth can help develop a healthy bacterial mix in the gut. More time outside and in nature can help.
  • Wash up by hand! – Allergic diseases are less common than in families who use dishwashers. A small amount of exposure to germs really helps the immune system develop. So you really don’t need to sterilise your baby’s dish and spoon once they start weaning.

Gut Health & Baby Weaning

Diet is an important way to support your baby’s gut health, especially for those babies who already are at risk of an altered microbiome. Here’s how you can help:

  • Fibre is an essential food for our health bacteria. We need fibre to feed the bacteria which produce Short Chain Fatty Acids – these increase serotonin production which improves our nervous system health and immune health. Add a variety of vegetables to your child’s diet every day. Aim for 5 veg a day.
  • Probiotic foods – add sauerkraut or kefir to your diet can help develop your immune health by increasing the beneficial bacteria. Consider a probiotic if not eating any fermented foods. From 6 months babies may take a little kefir (fermented milk or water) or sauerkraut juice in their food.
  • Prebiotic foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, and leeks help to feed the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut.
  • Continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years if possible to provide the ongoing immune support to your baby.

To find out more about how to support a health start to your child’s life get in touch. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation to see how nutritional therapy can help you and your family.

Book onto our next Baby Nutrition & Weaning Class – or organise a private group class for you and friends at home.

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

What bread is best for my baby?

Baby Nutrition & Weaning – what are our classes in Bristol like? 

5 Reasons you don’t need Baby Rice

Think Zinc – Weaning your baby

 

 

Five Reasons Why You Don’t Need Baby Rice

Baby Weaning: Five Reasons Why You Don't Need Baby Rice

We are sold baby rice as a safe, easy food to start weaning your baby, and many of us were weaned onto this as children, so your family may put pressure on to start with baby rice, it’s the done thing, right?

Well, through research, we now know more about the gut and our microbiome, how childhood eating links to health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and also nutritional profiles of food.

Here are 5 good reasons why you don’t need baby rice:

  1. White rice turns to glucose quickly

We all know we eat too many processed grains and simple carbohydrates. When we eat carbohydrates our saliva begins to breakdown the food into glucose. By the time baby rice, which is around 94% starch, hits the intestines it will be mostly all glucose. The more processed foods are broken down to glucose quickly, which sets a cascade of insulin release and blood sugar imbalances. It’s easy to see how we begin to get a preference for simple grains.

  1. It’s heavily processed

Baby rice is depleted of nutrients, processed white flour. It’s sometimes fortified with synthetic vitamins which are not as easy for the body to absorb or process as natural food based forms of the nutrients. It’s a kind of filler, which displaces other nutrient rich foods with no real value.

  1. Rice may contain arsenic

Rice is known to be high in arsenic, including in infant rice cereal.  Research last year into babies aged 6-12 months found rice cereal can markedly increase arsenic exposure among US infants relative to breast milk and formula.

  1. It’s outdated

Baby rice was introduced as a low allergen food that is easy to digest (because it’s so processed) which was important when babies were weaned very early on. The NHS advice now strictly advises babies are not fed solids until at least 4 months, with many parents waiting until 6 months to coincide with other physical developments such as sitting up, putting food in their mouth. This means babies are more ready for food at this later stage, and their gut is more developed so they can digest real food.

  1. It’s not real food!

Part of weaning is all about developing associations and experimenting with foods. If your baby is ready for solid foods they are also ready for flavours, textures and smells – there is no need to disguise food as textured milk and mix it with formula or expressed milk.

Want to know more about baby weaning? To find out more about what foods help your baby develop, when and how to introduce solids and ask any questions to our Nutritional Therapist come to one of our classes on Baby Nutrition and Weaning.

Book online or organise a group for you and some friends at your home – just email info@the-gentle-touch.com

 

 

Weaning Snack: Super Simple Banana Flapjacks

These are really lovely little treats you can make for your weaning baby, toddler, or just yourself! Very easy to make, a toddler can help with the stirring if you want to get older children involved. Will keep for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

Baby Weaning Banana Flapjacks

Ingredients

300g oats
80ml coconut oil (melted)
2 mashed bananas
50g pumpkin seeds (ground in Nutribullet or similar)

Method

Mix together and spread into a tin lined with greaseproof paper. Cook at a moderate heat – around 140C (Gas mark 3 or 4) – for 20 mins or until starting to brown. Let the tray cool and cut up into squares.

 

 

 

Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which supports a healthy immune system, they contain essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 fats and also have and anti-parasitic effect (killing off nasties in our gut). Oats contain betaglucans which also help immune health and bananas are a good source of tryptophan which can help melatonin production, our sleep hormone.

Add other kinds of seeds to mix it up a little if you like. If you don’t have a powerful blender to grind up seeds to a powder, try ground almonds you can buy already powdered.

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3 red tomatoes on stalk

Baby Weaning – Can I use ready made pouches of food?

Baby Weaning Question:  

Hi I was going to use pouches when out and about something like Ella’s Kitchen – what’s the recommended amount of salt and sugar I should be looking for on these pouches max? I just looked and one pouch was 9.9g of sugar!

Anna our Nutritional Therapist says: 

Great question, basically you should look for no added salt and sugar for baby food, and where you give your own foods, just check that you don’t give lots of a food with high salt, sugar and additives in.

Where you do use pouches from Organix or Ella’s kitchen these shouldn’t have any added salt or sugars since they are purely for babies. What they do often have is a lot of fruit, often mixed in with the veg. So it might look like you’re giving vegetables, but the main ingredient is fruit.

So the Ella’s Kitchen products called Broccoli, Pears, & Peas is actually:

Organic pears 79%
Organic peas 14%
Organic broccoli 7%

You might think from the order of the ingredients in the title that broccoli was the main ingredient! And the Spinach, Apples and Swede is:

Organic apples 55%
Organic spinach 34%
Organic swedes 11%

Of course fruit is fantastic for your little one, it is high in sugar, but it’s full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Amazing to get them loving the taste of fruit at an early age, and nothing wrong with that! But if you give ready made foods to your baby all the time you may unknowingly be giving mostly fruit all day rather than veg unless you read the labels and choose ones with only veggies in, it’s pretty misleading.

Ready made baby food is pasteurised so it has a longer shelf life. Again, no problem with this now and again, but many nutrients are lost during this process, so if you can cook for your family most of the time there will be many more nutrients in fresh home cooked foods.

If you’ve got a question about Baby Weaning please email us on info@the-gentle-touch.com or ask to join our Baby Nutrition & Weaning Facebook group where Anna, our Registered Nutritional Therapist can answer more questions.

 

Think Zinc! – Baby Nutrition & Weaning

Baby Nutrition & Weaning: Zinc

We need zinc as part of our diet, but we it’s not the most common mineral we hear about. It is essential for your baby’s cognitive development as it supports building neural pathways in the brain, literally how brain cells talk to each other! It’s really important for any growing process, and you can see how much your baby has changed and grown in the last few months!

This essential mineral also enhances our sense of taste and smell, which can be useful if your baby doesn’t have much appetite. Zinc supports absorption of vitamin A too which we need for healthy eyes and immune health.

You can find zinc in sardines, egg yolks, beans and pulses, meat, sunflower seeds.