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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: And how’s your baby going?

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 seconds MOTHER: Oh, look, she’s going pretty well. We were having problems with her eating.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Oh, I remember.

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 seconds MOTHER: And she’s gagging and–

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Gagging and causing lots of drama because she thought she was going to choke.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds MOTHER: Yeah, that’s right, gagging and throwing up sometimes which um ..

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Oh, dear. And how long did that last for, that she was not liking the textured stuff?

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 seconds MOTHER: Look, probably until she was about eight or nine months. Oh, do you want to come to me? I was quite worried that she wasn’t getting enough to eat, and she was never going to get the hang of it. But she’s doing really well now.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: OK, so eating a good range of foods?

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds MOTHER: She eats lots of different textures now. There are still some vegetables that she doesn’t like. She loves fruit. She’ll eat any fruit, but certain vegetables, she just pushes away.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Pushing away? OK.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds MOTHER: –closed her mouth.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: That’s a really common thing because veggies aren’t sweet. Fruit’s sweet, and children like sweet. But it’s interesting with children because we tend to think they won’t like veggies, because often we don’t like them. I’m not sure about you.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds MOTHER: There are some I don’t like

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Yeah. [CHUCKLES] And so it’s often the assumption that if you don’t like them, they won’t like them. And one of the things I think that is really interesting is that different children in different countries eat vastly different foods. And vegetables, for instance, Italian children love zucchini and eggplant, and Australian children love peas and carrots.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds MOTHER: Yes.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: And they’re quite different. And what that tells us is that we can learn to enjoy vegetables. And ideally, all children in all countries would be eating as many different kinds of vegetables and fruits as they can. And now a little saying for children is to colour every meal with fruit and veg,

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds MOTHER: Oh ok

Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Because we know– and I know you know this, that probably one of the best things we can do to protect their health and adults’ health is to eat a really good range of fruits and vegetables at every meal, and even at snacks as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds MOTHER: We might be able to do that as a family, then try and include some of those veggies we don’t normally have.

Skip to 1 minute and 59 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: A bit of a challenge for you too, it rather sounds. I’ve told you why she might reject them. But I guess one of the important things is that she’s not going to ever learn to enjoy new vegetables if you stop offering them. And it’s really common for mums to offer foods, let’s say, broccoli or zucchini, offer it once or twice, three times, and find they spit it out and push it away, and then to kind of assume that, well, that’s off the men, my child doesn’t like that food. In fact, it’s quite normal for children to reject a food 10 or 15 times.

Skip to 2 minutes and 29 seconds And so my line, really, is to keep offering foods forever, and for you to sit down and enjoy eating those foods with them, and if they reject them, to not make a fuss about it, because the more you fuss, the more likely she is to fuss. So don’t just go for the easy option, the ones I know she likes?

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: No, definitely not. But use the things she likes as accompaniments to foods she’s purposely rejecting.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 seconds MOTHER: That’s a good idea.

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Yeah, that seems to work well. And as I said, just to reiterate, not to make a fuss if she doesn’t eat it, just to leave it there for a certain amount of time, that you’re comfy with, and then to move on. Eventually, you’ll find tastes change, and if foods are on offer, they can learn to enjoy them.

Skip to 3 minutes and 6 seconds MOTHER: OK.

Skip to 3 minutes and 7 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: And there’s not much genetics to taste. Even if you don’t like a particular veggie, it doesn’t mean that that’s in her genes and she won’t.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds MOTHER: OK. [CHUCKLES]

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds KAREN CAMPBELL: Probably the biggest thing that will influence whether she has it or not is whether you offer it to her or not.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 seconds MOTRHER: So it’s been a couple of weeks since I spoke to Karen now, and I’ve been persisting with trying to offer foods that Jade normally didn’t like. And I’m a bit surprised, actually, but some of them, she’s actually now really liking. And I did try offering some of the vegetables that she wasn’t too keen on with other vegetables that I know that she does like. And that seemed to be a really good way for us.

Practical tips to promote healthy eating

Having skills and strategies is important in all aspects of our parenting, and this is very true for feeding as well.

We’ve already talked about not engaging with young children in fights about food. Here, we continue this discussion by looking at a range of other options parents can use from the very start of feeding that will support the development of a ‘good eater’.

In this video, Karen talks with new parent Kylie, whose young baby is rejecting vegetables, and offers a number of practical tips to help her.

The key messages of this video are:

IN-2019_Step2.14a-EnjoyEatTogether-1011589376.jpeg Children tend to enjoy the foods you enjoy, so eat with them and model your own enjoyment of the foods you want them to enjoy. This is really important for foods like vegetables, which you may have to learn to like yourself if you want your child to enjoy them too.
IN-2019_Step2.14b-tendToAccept-471590731.jpeg Children also tend to better accept foods they either haven’t had before or haven’t liked previously if they’re served alongside a food they do enjoy.
IN-2019_Step2.14c-excellentAt-1073084980.jpeg Babies are excellent at knowing when they have had enough. Therefore, watch your baby’s facial expression and body language when feeding. Your baby will tell you when they have had enough.
IN-2019_Step2.14d-appetites-138710690.jpeg Children’s appetites change, mostly in response to how much they’re growing. This means that some days they will eat a lot, and other days not so much. Try to be relaxed about feeding and resist encouraging or pushing your child to eat as this overrides their innate ability to know when they’ve had enough.
IN-2019_Step2.14e-responsive-962627294.jpeg Be responsive to your child’s hunger – let your child decide what to eat and how much they’ll eat without you commenting. Remember, the more you fuss, the more they’ll fuss.
IN-2019_Step2.14f-offerOffer-911529706.jpeg Offer and offer again. We know that most children are likely to reject a new food. This is not a statement about their future enjoyment of the food but probably a biologically driven protective reaction to new, potentially dangerous things in their environment.
IN-2019_Step2.19-fear-928964270.jpeg This fear of the new (neophobia) diminishes as you offer the food again and again, and most children will learn to enjoy most foods if they are repeatedly offered to them. A food previously rejected is often eaten with delight after the fifth or fiftieth messy offering.

Remember that a child can’t learn to enjoy a food if it’s not offered to them.

Your task

Watch the video and reflect on whether any of Kylie’s experiences resonate with your own.

What do you think of the suggestions made? What are some of the ways you can incorporate these suggestions in your own feeding?

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This video is from the free online course:

Infant Nutrition: from Breastfeeding to Baby's First Solids

Deakin University

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