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New Year, New Foods!

Posted by felicity on January 29, 2014

Although we all know toddlers won’t starve themselves to death, it can be extremely worrying if you have a child who won’t eat, or who eats a very narrow range of foods.  
Society’s (and the health profession’s) preoccupation with weight from day they’re born doesn’t help, and it can be even more anxiety-provoking when your child is clearly expending loads of energy, yet refusing to eat anything more than a few raisins.
Having a child who eats a wide range of foods not only makes your life easier, but more importantly, facilitates them growing up into adolescents and adults who are properly nourished by their diet. So here are some tips to keep your relaxed when it comes to introducing new foods to your toddler or young child.


Things to try

1. Don’t forget that neophobia (fear of new foods) is normal, so expect your child to resist trying a new food. In caveman times, neophobia prevented toddlers from eating poisonous berries when they started crawling around under their own steam, so it had an important function. Your child still needs you to show them new foods are safe and may well be naturally suspicious. Read more about neophobia here.
a)      Food on Mummy or Daddy’s plate might therefore seem more interesting (or even safer) than food on their own plate. In the early days of weaning it’s fine for your little one to help herself to food from your plate. Don’t let it become a habit and only you will know when you feel your child has the cognition to be able to understand that is no longer acceptable.
2. Expect to offer your child a food 20 times (and have it refused) in the same format before you think you may have a problem with it. And even then, don’t give up. Re-offer it again after a break. A cucumber slice will be perceived as a different food to grated cucumber so treat them as different foods and offer them appropriately.
3. Introduce new foods when you don’t feel pressurised to get your child to eat it. You can do this in a variety of ways:
a)      Introduce a food as part of a game, not at a mealtime. Introduce it in a fun way, and act as if you don’t even expect your child to eat the food. For example, play guessing games about what the food tastes/feels/smells like: “Is this green, like cucumber?” Make sure you give wrong and right answers so that you can laugh together and your child feels safe getting it wrong.
b)      Use the meal your child eats best (i.e. the one where everyone feels happiest) to introduce something new. With many toddlers, this is breakfast time since their little stomachs are empty.
c)      If new tastes are difficult, introduce new textures, as taste and texture go together.
d)     Change one aspect of a food your child will eat (e.g. shape, temperature, way it’s served). Remember that even small changes can feel unsettling for children.
e)      Don’t get disheartened if your child accepts a food one day and refuses it the next. Likes and dislikes change all the time under the age of 5.
When you introduce a new food, your aim should not be to get your child to eat it – this only adds pressure in an already potentially challenging situation for your child.
Aim to help your child have fun and gain interest – as we all know, babies and toddlers explore by putting things in their mouths, so something has caught their interest, it’ll probably end up in their mouths next!
Aim to get your child to feel confident enough to taste the new food, rather than eat it. Tell yourself that all they need to do is try it.
4. Use your child’s wish to be included. Eat together as a family if possible or invite other children over, and really enjoy your food in an obvious way. Give your child some of the new food but don’t pay an excessive amount of attention to them, in terms of whether they eat it. Let them work out that they want to join in, and let them do this at their own pace. This might not happen with just one sitting, particularly if your child isn’t confident, so give it some time and continually demonstrate how yummy it is, and what they’re missing socially (i.e. everyone enjoying the experience of eating the new food together).
5. Introduce the new food when you know your child is hungry and give them a little less of the food you know they’ll eat, so they’re likely to still be hungry and have the new food left on their plate/high chair table.
6. Use vitamin drops, which are now recommended by Health Visitors for all children from 6 months of age. Then at least you will know your child is getting the vitamins they need.

What not to do

Do not try to feed your child the new food or control the process – allow them to self-feed and accept the new thing into their world at their own pace. It’s easier to do this if you don’t feel anxious.
Do not focus on your child if they try something – this may well make them feel self-conscious and prompt withdrawal, particularly if they have historically refused the food.
Do not disguise foods with other foods – hiding vegetables in sauces is often recommended but we strongly advise against this, as this is not teaching your child anything. You’re not prompting interest in food, or confidence in trying new things. Furthermore, you’re not even winning the battle in getting your child to eat new food, you’re just putting it off, and meanwhile, you’re reinforcing that they only have to eat the same sauce that they always eat.
Do not bargain – again, this is sometimes recommended, but we strongly advise against it. In bargaining, you’re allowing your child to see that you’re really invested in them complying, which can set up power battles you don’t want. You are also setting up some foods as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’. Food is just food – ice cream shouldn’t be a reward or a treat you get if you eat broccoli.
So use our tips, stay calm and make it your New Year’s resolution to help your child have lots of new yummy discoveries next year!

Read more about introducing solids, preventing and managing fussy eating habits in our latest evidence-based book Worry-free Weaning.

Dr Anna Walton is a chartered counselling psychologist and Felicity Bertin is a registered paediatric osteopath. They work together supporting families with children who have fussy eating difficulties.

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Puff Pastry Chicken Pie Recipe

Posted by felicity on April 28, 2013

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 2 adults and 2 children
To serve: seasonal steamed vegetables
2 chicken breasts, sliced or diced thinly
500g puff pastry
3 tbsp Crème Fraiche
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Large knob of butter
Handful of mushrooms
½ leek thinly sliced
Ground black pepper to season
1 pepper, sliced
1 egg, beaten
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°c / 180°c Fan / Gas mark 6
  2. In a large bowl mix the lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic with the crème fraiche 
  3. Slice (or dice) your chicken breast then stir it into the crème fraiche mixture, season with the black pepper and leave to marinade
  4. Meanwhile heat some butter over a low heat and gently cook the mushrooms and leeks until soft then stir them into the crème fraiche mixture
  5.  Roll out the puff pastry on a well floured surface
  6.  You want the pastry to be quite thin but big enough to cut out 4 rectangles (your choice of size depending on who will be eating them).  As a rough guide I cut out a 25cm x 15cm rectangle for an adult portion (then you could halve it for a small child's portion)
  7.  Once the rectangles have been cut out place them onto a greased baking tray then spoon the mixture into the centre of each piece of pastry and spread it out, ensuring you leave a 1cm border around the edge
  8.  Brush the beaten egg around the 1cm borders and then pinch the corners together and fold the sides inward so as to create a wall around the chicken mixture.  Then brush them with the beaten egg
  9. With the remaining pastry cut out 4 smaller rectangles, brush with beaten egg and place onto a greased baking tray
  10. Place the baking trays into the oven and cook for 20 minutes
  11. Once cooked place the pastry pies onto a plate and place a plain puff pastry rectangle on top, thus creating a lid
Tip: This recipe has proved a hit with little ones showing signs of being in the Enveloping schema. Playing hide and seek, wrapping toys in blankets and enjoying dens are all hints your little one could be in this phase.

We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Welsh Cakes Recipe (sugar-free)

Posted by felicity on April 16, 2013

This recipe is especially for one of our Facebook followers: Shelley Hanley who was looking for a welsh cake recipe without the sugar. Admittedly, it ended up being a bit of a cross between our Gingerbread People and Drop Scones recipes (both in Yummy Discoveries: The Baby-led Weaning Recipe Book) but hope you enjoy them as much as our little ones do.
Makes 12-16 small cakes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

300g / 10.5oz of self-raising flour
100g / 3.5oz  of unsalted butter
1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground mixed spice
Pinch of ground ginger
1 egg
2-3 Big Splashes of apple juice

1 grated apple (we used pink lady variety) 

2-3 handfuls of sultanas / raisins

  1. In to a mixing bowl chuck the flour, butter, cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger, egg and apple juice
  2. Mix it altogether with your hands and then add the grated apple, kneading it with your hands to make a pastry-like texture
  3. Add more apple juice to make it wetter and flour to make it drier
  4. Add the sultanas or raisins and mix it together again
  5. Pop a frying pan on the hob with a blob of butter just to grease the surface and allow to heat up
  6. Meanwhile, pop the mixture on a floured surface and pat it out so it’s around ½ inch thickness and using a cookie cutter, cut out your cakes.
  7. Pop them in the frying pan and leave to cook for 5 or so minutes until they’re brown underneath and flip them over. Give them a bit of a squidge when you turn them over to flatten them out a bit if you like
  8. Cook for another few minutes until the underside is also brown and when you squidge the top there’s no give – that means they’re done
  9. That’s it! They’re cooked and ready to cool and munch.

 Serve with a smear of fruit puree to make a yummy scone or just great as a snack on its own! 

We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Allergies - Peanuts under 1

Posted by felicity on April 13, 2013

We often get asked at what age little ones can be introduced to seafood or nuts and parents are often astonished when we reply:
“You can introduce these foods from 6 months”!
Historically, you may have been encouraged to wait before introducing foods which are high allergens as this will help prevent your child developing an allergy to it. This has never made any sense to us, for reasons we will explain later, but it’s down to basic physiology.
“There is no evidence that waiting until your child is older will prevent them from developing a food allergy.”
Now research conducted by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology shows that actually following these rules and delaying  exposure to these foods may actually increase your little one’s chances of developing an allergy to them.
OLD NEWS: Introducing high allergen foods when weaning may INCREASE risk of allergy developing
LATEST NEWS: Introducing high allergen foods when weaning may REDUCE risk of allergy developing
To be honest, we don’t actually know but we have a theory:
During the first 12 months, your little one’s immune system is developing rapidly. It is working out which things coming in to the body are goodies and baddies. It’s like a game of cops and robbers (but with food it’s a case of mistaken identity!)
When a new substance (such as a prawn) is eaten, the immune system, which is like a big army of cops, approach the prawn to see if they recognise it. If it’s the first time they have seen it they presume it’s the enemy (bacteria or virus) and so attack it. The cops now know the prawn so when he comes back again another day, chances are it’s a new friend so they will probably call off the attack. 
However, it may take a few meetings for a true friendship to form and the attack to be abandoned.
After 12 months, the immune system has matured and decides it’s probably got enough new friends and there’s no room for more and so is more likely to attack new baddies which come in.
Now, we’re not saying that ALL new foods introduced after 12 months are going to be treated as a baddy, but some foods just look suspicious and more likely to be attacked. Peanuts, Eggs, Shellfish all look a bit dodgy and so the immune system is more likely to attack them –hence they are common allergens. Broccoli and Cucumber however look very innocent  and are normally allowed to pass through without any bother.
Now, I know we’ve simplified this but hopefully this helps you understand why possibly introducing these prime suspects before 12 months could help the body recognise them as friends and not attack them – thus preventing allergies.
"Insufficient evidence exists for delaying introduction of solid foods, including potentially allergenic foods, beyond 4 to 6 months of age, even in infants at risk."
What are common allergens?
·         Cow’s milk
·         Eggs
·         Wheat
·         Gluten
·         Seeds & Nuts (including peanuts and peanut products)
·         Fish & Shellfish
So how do I introduce common allergen foods?
This information comes from the Department of Health (UK):
·         Always wait until your little one is 6 months
·         Introduce one common allergen food at a time
·         Offer them in very small amounts (1 tsp / handful)
·         Watch for signs of an allergic reaction
What are signs of an allergic reaction?
·         Skin reaction: Red rash, blotchy, itchy, swelling of the mouth, itchy eyes
·         Stomach upset
·         Runny nose
·         Breathing difficulties
If ANY of these occur, talk to your GP.  If you think your is baby is suffering a severe allergic reaction, always call  999 and ask for a paramedic.
Felicity's Story: When my little munchkin was 8 months old he developed an allergic reaction to a food. I still have no idea what food it was but it began by my noticing a small rash on his cheek which rapidly spread to his eyebrows and forehead. We went to urgent care and the GP prescribed anti-histamine and that was that. I've popped a picture of him below to see what he looked like during this reaction.

NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. 2010. “Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Volume 126, Issue 6, Supplement, Pages S1-S58, December.

Reddy, Sumathi. “Food Allergy Advice for Kids: Don’t Delay Peanuts, Eggs.” The Wall Street Journal 4 March, 2013.



Leaving The Table

Posted by admin on March 27, 2013

In the early days of weaning, your little one is normally strapped in to the highchair with no desire or ability to go anywhere. But once they learn to walk, sitting at the table to eat a meal can be a challenge for some families, especially if they've got in to the habit of eating in front of the TV or grazing around the house.
Jane & Matthew
Jane complained that Matthew (3 years old) would rather be running around than sitting at the table eating a meal. Whenever they go to parties or to the cafe, all the children are sitting nicely and eating and Matthew is running around and playing, occasionally popping back to the table for a nibble and then whizzing off again. His mum can't get Matthew to sit down and eat a meal at home - he is always up and down and won't stay in his chair.
"But this is baby-led weaning, right? Letting your child lead the way and letting them decide when, what and how much to eat?"
If this statement really is what BLW is then if they can choose WHAT to eat then you must be happy they get to choose sweets and chocolate all the time. 
If they can choose WHEN then you have no problem when they wake you up at 3am for more sweets and biscuits.
Of course this is ludicrous and so is the statement, but sadly this is what many parents are interpreting as BLW and this is giving them the permission to allow their child to dictate the eating environment.
Never forget - YOU are your child's teacher. YOU teach your child and YOU decide what is and isn't acceptable. 
Now, for some of you, your child eating on the go is acceptable and to have them sit down at the table and eat a meal is a battle that's not worth fighting. It is worth fighting, and here's why:
PROBLEM: Remember that hierarchy we talk about in most of our posts? You make the big decisions and your child makes the small one. It seems in this example that Matthew is making all of the decisions so there is imbalance – Mum isn’t having any say in this at all.
SOLUTION: Mum makes the big decision and informs Matthew that everyone sits at the table. Matthew makes the small decision of whether or not to eat.
PROBLEM: It’s a physiological one, but if Matthew is running around the blood will be diverted to his big muscles and he won’t want to eat or be able to digest the food he does take on – the blood will be diverted away from the stomach and appetite suppressed. This is why you don’t exercise on a full tummy – the body can’t digest food and supply muscles for exertion at the same time. So if Michael is running around and nibbling he is setting himself up for gastric problems, in adults we categorise this under IBS.
SOLUTION: Eating only occurs when sitting down at a table. Eating on the go isn’t an option and for a time that may also need to include snacks.
Jane and Matthew aren't a real family, we've just used them as an example, but these stories are typical of the families we work with and help every day.


We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x