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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds And how’s your baby doing? Oh, look, she’s going pretty well. We were having problems with her eating. You might remember. Ah. I remember. She’s gagging– Gagging and causing lots of drama because she thought she was going to choke. Yeah. That’s right. Gagging and throwing up sometimes, but um… Oh, dear. And how long did that last for that she was not liking the taste and stuff? Probably until she was about eight or nine months. And I was quite– Do you want to come to me? –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. OK – so eating a good range of foods?

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds She eats lots of different textures now. There’s still some vegetables that she doesn’t like. She likes fruit. She’ll eat any fruit, but certain vegetables she just pushes away. OK. 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. So there are some I don’t like. 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 is really interesting is that different children in different countries eat vastly different foods.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds Vegetables, for instance, Italian children love zucchini and eggplant, and Australian children love peas and carrots. Yes. 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 our little saying for children is to colour every meal with fruit and veg because we know, and I know you know this, that probably one of the best things we can do to protect their health and adult 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 46 seconds We might be able to do that as a family then– try and eat some of those veggies we don’t normally have. A bit of a challenge for you too by the 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 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 finally they spit it out and push it away and then to kind of assume that well, that’s off the menu. My child doesn’t like that food.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds In fact, it’s quite normal for children to reject a food 10 or 15 times. 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? No – definitely not. But use the things she likes as accompaniments to foods she’s perhaps rejecting. That’s a good idea. Yeah– that seems to work well. And as I said, just to reiterate, not to make a fuss if she doesn’t eat it.

Skip to 2 minutes and 50 seconds Just 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 an offer they can learn to enjoy them. And there’s not much genetics to taste. Even if you don’t like a particular vegetable doesn’t mean that that’s in her genes and she won’t. OK. Probably the biggest thing that will influence her whether she has it or not is whether you offer it to her or not. 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.

Skip to 3 minutes and 24 seconds 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. That worked well.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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? Could you use these 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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