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Judy More gives advice on toddler nutrition

Colief’s Online Clinic takes place fortnightly and is hosted by a member of the Colief Expert Panel. The panel includes GP Dr Jumoke Thomas, child psychologist Maggie Redshaw, paediatric dietician Judy More and health visitor Dawn Kelly.

This week’s clinic was hosted by child nutritionist Judy More who gave advice on keeping little ones healthy with what they are eating, and tips on how to deal with fussy eating habits in toddlers.

Here’s a reminder of what was covered at the clinic.

I currently bottle feed my baby girl who is 10 months old. When should I switch to cows’ milk instead of formula? Do I need to use follow-on formulas or can I just go straight to cows’ milk?

Generally, when children get to about a year old, you can switch to cows’ milk for them to drink. Children under 2 years old need full fat cows’ milk for the extra vitamin A. From about two years old onwards if children are growing and eating well they can have semi-skimmed milk but changing is not necessary. There is no need for you to use follow on formulas, as cows’ milk will contain the nutrients your daughter needs once she is 12 months old.

Why can’t toddlers have high fibre foods? I thought they were really good for the digestive system.

Toddlers can have high-fibre foods and they are good for the digestive system. However some toddlers get diarrhoea if they have too much fibre so see what suits your toddler. Give a mix of some wholegrain foods and some white bread, pasta and rice. If your toddler has no problems then slowly increase the amount of high fibre foods you are giving.

I’m worried about my toddler getting enough iron as I have a history of being anaemic. What can I do to make sure she is getting enough?

Iron is important in helping to make red blood cells which carry oxygen around your body, and a lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Most people can get all the iron they need from having a balanced healthy diet. Your toddler should have foods that are high in iron two or three times a day. The best sources are red meat, oily fish and dark poultry meat such as legs and thighs.

Other good sources are eggs, chopped or ground nuts and nut products such as peanut butter and almond butter (whole nuts can pose a choking risk), and pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and beans. Be sure to give your toddler a fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C with these foods to help her body to absorb the iron.

Does my toddler need to take a vitamin supplement?

Even if your little one has a healthy balanced diet, the government recommends that all children between six months and five years take supplements containing vitamins A and D. This will help to prevent rickets (a bone disease), maintain a strong immune system, and to promote healthy growth.

My toddler only eats a limited variety of foods and is really reluctant to try lots of new things. Is this normal and should I be firmer with making him branch out a bit?

Toddlers often need to try new foods several times before learning to like them. Some may even need to be offered a new food ten or more times before they begin to like it. At this stage the most important thing is getting toddlers to taste the new food, they don’t need to eat a lot of it. If a toddler will not even try the new food, then you just try offering it each time you are eating it.

My toddler has just turned 18 months and has recently become a fussy eater, eating less than normal and refusing certain foods. Why do you think he would do this if he was fine before?

Fussy eating is really common and most toddlers go through it at some point but eventually pass through this phase. Although it can be frustrating at times for parents, it usually isn’t anything to worry about as long as toddlers are developing properly. However if the problem persists or you have some concerns, speak to your health visitor or GP and they will be able to check your child’s growth and development. There are a number of reasons why toddlers may lose their appetite, including being tired, not feeling well, feeling pressured to eat more food when they have had enough or do not like the food, or being continually offered food throughout the day. Ensure meal times are happy social times with no stress, arguments, bribery or coercion. And don’t rush your toddler or force them to eat things they are refusing.