Let’s talk about kids drinks

Kids Drinks
When I ask parents about their kids drinks it’s always an interesting conversation. A lot of the time it goes along the lines of this…
Me – “do you give your kids soft drink?”
Parent – “absolutely not, that stuff is full of sugar. They might have it at a party but not at home”
Me – “do you give your kids cordial?”
Parent – “no way, cordial rots kids teeth”
Me – “do you give your kids juice?”
Parent – “yes, they probably have 1 or 2 glasses a day”
It’s about this time that I tell parents about the sugar in kids drinks. Did you know that there is exactly the same amount of sugar in apple juice as there is in coke? Not many parents do! And that is a no added sugar variety. And I’m not blaming you, marketing  managers are clever and they definitely pull the juice is healthy card when they can get away with it.
When you give your child a glass of juice (and I mean 250 mls which is a measuring cup) it is the same as 5 teaspoons of table sugar. Okay so imagine getting out your sugar bowl and spooning your child a teaspoon of sugar. Then spoon them another. Then another. Another. And another. By this time my Miss almost 4 would be in heaven, but fast forward about an hour and she would have crashed and would be entering tanty zone.
After a quick internet swoop, here’s the sugar content of some common drinks for 1 cup:
Coke/softdrink – 26.5g
Apple juice (no added sugar) – 26g    
Orange juice – 13.8g
Orange drink (25% juice) – 27.5g
Nesquik – 27g
Milo – 24g
Cordial – 16g
Plain milk – 15g (from lactose which is natural sugar)
Water – 0!!!!
You can see how over the day, if you are giving these drinks, that sugar intake can bank up! Unfortunately one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity is sugary drinks.  Don’t get me wrong, a little bit of these things is okay. Every now and then give your kids juice if you want, or treat them to a milo if you feel the need one day, but for everyday use, water is the best choice. Water is the only everyday drink.
Tips for getting your child to drink more water:
-serve it cold. Some kids will drink it more if it is cold!
-keep a jug that your older child can pour from themselves. If there is the novelty of doing it themselves, then they might be more likely to do it.
-give them a cool looking water bottle.
-infuse the water with fruit (strawberries or lemon are often good) or even cucumber.
-use a chart for older kids. Let them tick off when they finish a glass of water.
-model the behaviour and talk about it. Something along the lines of “wow mummy is thirsty. Where’s my water bottle I need a DRINK”. Feel free to exaggerate.
Happy drinking,
The Dietitian Mummy

Fussy eating – starting right

In our eating world it’s been a long time since we have had to feed our little ones but I’ve seen a few clients recently who are early on in the introduction to solids stages.

One of the things I ALWAYS talk to mums about at the starting solids time is the behavioural aspect of food introduction and it’s links to future fussy eating.

I’m not in the business of telling mums they are doing things wrong but I do like to share my knowledge and experience on fussy eating development and basic kids food antics.

The biggest behavioural aspect we talk about is the category I like to call aeroplanes/tricking/coaxing.
My mother-in-law was quite upset to find that when I started solids with my number 1 (her first grandchild) that I had banned all aeroplanes when feeding her. Any behaviour (from mum,  dad or care providers) that are trying to get kiddies to eat when they are showing that they aren’t keen most often swts us a bit of a pattern for fussy eating.

To give you some background, let’s talk about kid antics for a bit. Kids dont get much control. Especially early on. You choose their clothes.  You choose the toys they have. You choose where they sleep. You choose what they do each day. When they get to the age where they want to get some control, hell they’ll grab it from wherever they can get it.

So think about this situation:
A wonderfully competant mum has decided to start feeding her hungry bub some solids. Mum is super excited and really wants this to be a successful stage in bubs life. Along the line somewhere, because well everyone else does it and thats how her mum did it, this lovely mum starts doing some aeroplanes to get bub to eat when he gets a bit fussy. Coaxing mouthfuls and tricking bub with alternate spoons of foods that bub likes also sneak in (1 spoon of veg, one spoon of fruit is usually what I see). Bub starts to realise that mum really really wants him to eat food and at this early stage loves this because bub is ecstatic when mum is happy. Bub gets older and starts wanting some control in his life because well he IS boss, isn’t he. He realises he can actually control what he eats, he can clamp his mouth shut and wowee does that cause a hilarious reaction from mum, he notes to self “lets do that one again”!

So that’s my reasoning behind not doing those beahviours from the start. So here’s my tips for starting right…

– if your bub is not interested in their food, don’t worry. If their growth is fine (and by fine I mean tracking along a percentile – no matter what percentile) then they will be fine missing a few meals. Especially seems at the start they are still getting most of their nutrients from their milk.
– use a 3 spoon rule. If they turn away once wait a minute or so. Try again if they turn away wait again. Third strike, if they turn away they are done. Obviously if before then they start going crazy or trying to get out their chair then don’t bother trying the 3 but you get my gist.
– it takes up to 10 exposures to food before some kids are happy enough to try the food so persist. Don’t take one refusal as “they don’t like it”.
– expect mess, and wastage. Its part of the process. A frustrating part yes, but something you have to deal with.
– if you find yourself coaxing, tricking or aeroplaning, put down that spoon mummy and step awaaayyyyy from the food 🙂

So if you are starting solids or about to, have a think about your feeding behaviour and remember, a healthy child will never starve.

Happy feeding,

The Dietitian Mummy

Fussy eaters tool kit – The learning plate

Do you have a child that just simply refuses to eat certain foods? To the point where there is a full scale blow out tantrum if it is even on the table? Trust me you are not alone! Some kiddies just don’t like trying new foods. If you have been worried about your child’s eating you are probably having a bit of a focus on what they are eating when at the dinner table too. It’s okay we all do it, but unfortunately kids, and especially some fussy eaters, hate it when we focus on what they are eating, and worse yet, hassle (even well meaning) them to eat something. Some kids go that extra mile and don’t even like the food to be not just on their plate but on the table itself.


There are many reasons for this, but today I am going to focus on when that reason is that the food is unfamiliar to your child, or that your child takes a while to familiarise themselves with foods. If this is the case (as it is for many little ones I see), then it’s a good idea to take a step back and let your child become acceptable of foods at their own pace (even when it seems to be absolute snail’s pace to us). I have a tool for you to use at home to help familiarise your child with new foods. I didn’t make this activity up, I learnt it in professional development from another dietitian, but it’s something I have used with good success in some of the kids I have seen.


There is an approach to dealing with fussy eating called SOS practices. This can only be delivered by practitioners trained in this area (which is not me, yet) but something that I find useful is the way they describe the levels of “fussiness” within different kids. The describe 6 areas of sensitivity by kids which include tolerating, interacting with the food, smelling the food, touching the food, tasting the food and eating the food. Within each area, there are different levels that your child may be at, ie whether they tolerate the food in the room, tolerate it at the table, or tolerate it on their plate.


Your child may be at varying stages of the scale, and it’s important to know where they are at before trying to progress with dealing with their fussiness. It would probably be too much for your little one to try tasting a food straight away if they have previously not even tolerated it on their plate. With fussy eating it’s always about small but progressive steps. So guage where your child is at, to know where you start with this activity.


So the learning plate. It is a way that is not confronting for your child, to introduce a new or previously refused food. You use the learning plate to display the new food there is no expectation for the child to touch, taste or eat the food, just that it is there for them to learn about the food. Depending on your child, the learning plate may start on the opposite side of the table to them, and it may gradually move towards them as they become more familiar with it. If they are happy with the food being close to them, they can start to do things at their own pace with the food on that plate, they may touch it, prod it with their fork, lick it, smell it, bite it and hopefully one day eat it.


Introduce it to your child. Tell them it will be on the table, but they don’t have to eat from it unless they want to. Explain to them that the plate is about learning about the food. For some, it might help just introducing the plate first without anything on it. When you are going to move the plate closer, check with your child first “is it okay if I move this closer?”.


The key is with this activity is to keep it non-confrontational. So basically mums and dads, no asking your child to try the food. No telling them to put it in their mouth. No hassling. I know it’s HARD, I even catch myself doing this every now and then but try not to ask them to try the food, talk instead about the food. What colour it is, is it crunchy, how it can be cooked and eaten. What is in it and what that will do in their body. Keep it fun, light and educational.


Some examples

“ohh do you know what’s on the learning plate today?”

“what does it look like?”

“does it look crunchy or soft” “mummies got some on her plate, ohh it’s crunchy, did you hear that crunch?”

“who do you think eats that vegetable/food”

“did you know that carrots have vitamins in them that help your eyes?”

“this apple is sweet like watermelon”


Over time, your little one will become more familiar with that food and will (in most cases) let you put it on their plate. You might have to do foods separately, or together. You might need to take it really slow for one food, and it progresses much more quickly with another. Just use your child as a guide.


Oh and a hot tip, plates with cool pictures or characters on them, work a treat 🙂


Comment below if you have any questions!


Happy learning,


The Dietitian Mummy.

4 ways to better your child’s eating behaviour

At the DAA conference earlier this year I sat in on a wonderful presentation given by a Dietitian called Tara Diversi. She was such a down to earth dietitian and told her story of her interaction with dietitians in her childhood and being labelled as a “fat kid”. She is an advocate for children’s eating behaviours and for developing a healthy relationship with good food early on in our children’s lives.

I will run through her 5 ways to help children’s eating behaviour, but first, I loved this infographic that she showed from the food brand lab. From this research, the most powerful part that she talked about was that one of the best safeguards against your children becoming overweight as adults is how involved you are with their lives. This is not food related, just being involved in their lives in a meaningful way will help them to be a healthy adult!

 12 things slim adults

Tara talked about 4 ways help with children’s eating behaviour:

  1. Making healthy food normal
  • It is important to draw a line between sometimes foods and treat/occasional food. Make the sometimes food normal in your household. You can be quite direct in telling your kids “that is a sometimes food, not something we eat every day”
  • Talk to your kids about healthy foods, and include them daily.

o   If your kids complain, let them know that this is everyday food, and the foods we need to eat every day. Don’t make a big deal about it, just state the facts.

  • For fussy eaters, it is important to help them overcome their aversion to healthy foods. Making food normal for fussy eaters is about repeated exposure. This means giving them the food on the plate (or on a learning plate or bowl further away from them on the table) so that the look, feel and taste of these foods becomes normal to them. Presenting food like a clock face (ie bits of food around the outside of the plate, not touching, rather than all lumped in the middle) often helps.

2. Make healthy food less risky

  • Train your kids tastebuds. It takes a while to change tastebuds so do it in a less risky fashion. If your child likes a certain food, cheese, then add in other foods to this taste gradually. You might have one bland vegetable with cheese grated over the top of it for a while. Once that is accepted, add in another vegetable of the same taste. You can eventually add in stronger flavoured vegetables. She talked about angst free food delivery, so taking the emotions (from both sides) out of the food delivery.
  • Tara also talked about some research into using characters like Elmo or super hero’s and how that increased kid’s intake of fruit and vegetables. You can use this to your advantage. Tap into your child’s favourite character and talk to them about the foods that that character eats. “Superman must eat his vegetables because he is big and strong” “I’m sure fairies eat different colours of fruit because their wings sparkle with different colours”. Be creative and have some fun chatting with your young kids. By talking in this way, your kids will see healthy foods as less risky because a character they know and love eats it, so it’s more comfortable to them.

3. Make healthy food convenient

Keep the occasional food out of sight. If your kids can’t see it, generally they forget it is there. Keep the everyday food at your child’s eye level and that is what will be asked for. You also have the ability to portion control the snacks available – ie small bags of sultanas, crackers etc on low shelf in the cupboard. And make it easy for children to help themselves. Put fruit and veggies on a low shelf in the fridge cut up already. Have easy to pour water jugs for bigger kids or drink bottles for smaller children.


4. Make healthy food attractive

I’m not expecting you to make the masterpieces with meals that you see on pinterest. Making healthy food attractive can be as simple as giving vegetables some cool names like “X-ray carrots” or “super peas”.

Some other ways could be:

-Present their food in different bowls, plates or in different ways.

-Kids can be funny with things that look “yucky” so cut brown parts off of fruit and veggies.

-Serve sauces on the side so they can choose to dip their food in them rather than dumping it all on top.

-Use exciting coloured vegetables, my girls went a bit crazy one day when I found purple cauliflower.


So there you go. Hopefully you find some tips and tricks in there that you can use for your little ones!


What tricks do you use to make healthy food choices in your house?

Until next time,

The Dietitian Mummy

Introducing solids

Introducing solids has always been, hands down, my favourite part about the baby stage. As you can tell, I LOVE food, and being able to give it to my girls and share in their enjoyment is amazing. Sometimes I take for granted that I was taught from a medical perspective how to introduce solids to an baby, something that really isn’t taught elsewhere and results in mums doing frantic google searches and getting different advice from everywhere.

I wrote about this on my personal blog quite some time ago and good really good responses from mums that I had reached so what better place to re-post it (better written of course) for all you lovely ladies reading along.


This guide is a combination of what I was taught at university, what I have seen/heard through working as a dietitian and what I have experienced myself as a mum. My experiences may be different to yours but always remember to let your child be the guide and progress at their pace. So here we go, you ready for some fun??


The technical stuff
We start our kiddies on solids somewhere between 4 and 6 months. Don’t try to research the recommendations because the jury is out on an actual recommended time. Typically, health peak bodies all say different things. The World Health Organisation recommend starting solids from 6 months, whereas ASCIA (the main allergy body in Australia) say that there is not enough evidence to definitively say when but that experts around the globe say somewhere between 4  and 6 months. What they can all agree on is that your child’s signs of readiness should guide you.


Look for:

The ability to sit supported with good head control.

Your little one doesn’t need to be able to sit by themselves but they do need to be able to sit upright without slumping to the side, air-o-planing off the side of the high chair, face planting their pumpkin or licking their chest.

An interest in food.

Please, please, PLEASE look for this one. One way to fail yourselves right from the start mummies, is to start before your darling is ready. Forget about “such-and-such” at mum’s group who is bragging about whatever-her-bubs-name eating three meals a day, licking the bowl and asking for more. Not your child, not your problem. You will be banging your head against a brick wall if you try before your bubba is ready. Don’t feel bad if you do try and bubs doesn’t want a bar of it, you haven’t caused any harm. Just wait a few weeks and try again. NO stress.

What does an interest in food look like?
Our girls would stalk our mouthfuls. They would watch your fork get the food, watch the food to your mouth, then watch it disappear into your mouth. Over and over again. If you feel like a prisoner with a chubby bully watching you eating and waiting till you turn your back to knock you out and steal your food then you have food interest. Number 2 bub even started chewing thin air as she watched us chew. It can also take the form of children putting things in their mouth all the time, and/or grabbing at your food.


How to start
In terms of allergy prevention, ASCIA say that there is “little evidence that delaying introduction of solids beyond 6 months reduces allergy risk” and “insufficient evidence to support previous advice to specifically delay or avoid potentially allergenic foods (such as egg, peanuts, nuts, wheat, cow’s milk and fish) for the prevention of food allergy or eczema”. What does that mean? It means that the old idea of introducing foods at different ages isn’t actually supported by much evidence. So in theory you can start with whatever food you like.


There are however a few disclaimers:
– You want to maintain some element of safety, so you might not give your little one a big ol’ lump of steak or raw carrot. If you want to start with meat try minced, cooked then pureed. Or if you want to do baby led weaning then try some slow cooked meat or mince (there are precautions you should take if you want to do baby led weaning (BLW). Contrary to popular skeptical belief, BLW doesn’t mean handing your child any type or form of food you like. There are guidelines, follow them here).
-If your child has a diagnosed allergy (and by this I mean true allergy, tested by an allergist. Not diarrhoea sometimes, or a rash sometimes or “tested” by a blood test or by some weird technique like hair analysis or holding onto metal poles) or you have allergy in your family, it might be worth waiting on certain foods. If this is the case, consult an allergist or a dietitian who specialises in allergy to help decided what to start with and what precautions to take.


And there are some common sense ideas that generally work well too:

–        Offer food after a feed to begin with, in the early stages food is an addition to milk not the other way round. By the time they have been eating solids for a few months and are managing “meals” i.e about ½ cup at a sitting, you could start switching it round.

–        Start with bland tastes, rice cereal, porridge etc. Babies are super tasters and will get much more taste from a mouthful that we do so bland to start is okay.

–        If you are concerned about reactions, start each new food by itself for one sitting before using it with others that are okay.

–        Introduce foods that are like the family foods you normally eat. I.e if you normally have peas, potato and carrot as your veggies then start with these ones, if your family favourite meal is spaghetti bolognaise, use this as a minced option. Don’t go making a million different meals that put more stress on you.

It’s all in the texture

Texture is a big thing for babies and babies’ mouth development. If you aren’t following baby led weaning, then you will probably be starting with purees. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking babies have purees for ages. They don’t need them for much longer than a few weeks before you can start lumping up the texture.

So also, as a side note, don’t get sucked into the “baby food preparation all-in-one, miracle saviour” machines that will set you back a pineapple or two. Considering that bubs will only be on puree for a few weeks, get yourself a stick blender for $20 or less at the supermarket and you have all you need (plus they have a freaking million other uses for that matter I LOVE my stick blender).

After puree, you can go to small lumps. If you are making it yourself this is easy to grade, just blend it less and less as time goes on, until you get to fork mashed and then minced consistency. If you are buying your baby food, get something more lumpy (like the 8 month plus) jars/sachets and use your trusty old stick blender (or a fork really) to make it less lumpy.

The dreaded choke

When it comes to moving up through the textures, the biggest concern for mummies is fear of choking. That shit is rife out there! However, it is a moment in your mummy lives where you have to suck it up, prepare yourself, and let your bubba learn.

So by this I mean:

-suck it up. Okay your fear is real, I get that. Your kids are your LIFE. But they do need to learn how to eat, chew and swallow. And if they get puree their whole lives, they become less and less able to learn to chew and swallow. Your child will gag. They will cough and splutter. And god forbid, they may even choke properly. But again, it’s something they have to do to learn.

-prepare yourself. LEARN FIRST AID. If you can’t afford a course, google how to clear your baby’s throat if they choke. Do this before you start solids. Not while your baby is choking. Learn the real signs of choking (no air going in or out, silence, colour of their face going red to blue) and be bloody vigilant. Don’t ever leave your baby (or toddler near a baby) with food if you aren’t there. Especially because the real signs of choking are silent. How are you supposed to know if you aren’t there?! Don’t start a meal with them if you can’t be there the whole time.

-let your bubba learn. If they gag, cough or splutter try really really hard not to swoop in there straight away and get the food out. Two reasons for this:

1) they need to learn how to move their mouth to clear their throat if they are about to choke. This will mean less gagging over time; and

2) if you swoop in as soon as they gag or splutter you could actually scare them into inhaling the contents of their mouth properly and then they really will be choking. Not to mention they will start to associate anxiety with gagging/etc so will actually increase their chance of choking continually.  So, if they gag/cough/splutter, let them go for a little bit. If they are coughing, then air is getting into the lungs and they are just getting the food cleared out of their throat. They are learning. If they go silent, no sounds, no air, no cough – complete permission to get in there and perform the necessary procedure!

Iv'e been attacked by food!

Iv’e been attacked by food!

How much to give

Well how much is a piece of string? As usual, every child is different. Some may be small eaters and some may be gobblers.

To start, your baby will probably have about 1 tsp at best. Progress with amounts as your child allows. When they turn their head away or get annoyed, they have had enough. Remember that their stomachs are about the size of their fist so don’t be expecting them to eat a dinner plate.

Once they get to “meal” stage, the World Health Organisation suggests this frequency as a guide:

6-8 months         offer 2-3/day

9-11 months       offer 3-4/day

12-24 months     offer 3-4/day plus 1-2 snacks

*remember if you started solids earlier you may adjust the months accordingly.


Fussy eating

Okay here’s the big one. How to prevent fussy eating from starting. And let me say, it’s lucky you aren’t paying for this because it’s pretty basic. I could actually write a whole post on this but I’m giving you the most basic and successful tip that will hopefully set you up for success.

Okay, its one word. Relax. Relax relax RELAX! Obviously every kid is different, and I make no guarantees, but I can tell you now, the most successful way of preventing your baby from becoming fussy is to relax. Babies, toddlers and kids are fickle with food. That is a fact. One day they will eat their entire body weight in food and the next day they will turn their nose up at everything you try. They also love attention, and they don’t give a damn how they get it! If they twig that you care about how much they eat, they will hold onto that one thing they can control (especially if they are lovely independent little kiddies like my Miss 3).

If they aren’t interested (for whatever reason – not hungry, excited, at grandma’s house, friends over) then don’t push it. They won’t starve. If you have a normal healthy child, they won’t starve if they don’t eat a meal, let alone a few meals. Pleeeaaassseeee don’t fall into the trap of giving them something they like just so they don’t go to bed hungry. Kids are smart. They will soon realise that all they have to do is say they aren’t hungry/or just cry if they are a baby, to get something they want. Yup it can be bloody heartbreaking when you prepare meals for your kids and they turn up their noses but the best way is to calmly tell them that “it is fine, but I’m putting it in the fridge and if you tell me you are hungry later I can bring it out for you”.

So when starting solids, use this motto from the start. If bubs turns up their nose, don’t stress. They will still be getting plenty of nutrients from milk (whether breastfed or bottle fed) and they don’t need to get all their nutrients from food for a long time. Be relaxed and if they don’t want it then try again later. Try foods that are turned away, again, many times. It can take anywhere up to 10 times for a child to taste something before they like it. Same goes with textures. It will feel weird to them at first when you change textures. Give them time and don’t push it straight away.

Ideas, ideas, ideas

So you know about when, textures and safety. So now it’s time for the fail safe, tried and tested, recipes for success with getting your kids to eat everything served.

Hmmm they just don’t exist, I’m sorry that was cruel. It is all about trial and error. Every child is different and likes different things. And kids are generally pretty easy going when it comes to meals, meaning they don’t need gourmet masterpieces. Quick easy recipes normally go down much more easily (and it’s slightly less devastating if they refuse when you haven’t spent half the day cooking the meal). Cover the basic ‘kids food groups’, go foods (carbohydrates), grow foods (meat, dairy, nuts) and glow foods (fruit and veggies) in equal proportions, one third of each.

Here are some Jak starting solids faves: Please note – these are not amazingly inventive, just my girl’s favourites

Baby food

Obviously pureed veg and fruit. Pureed mince with added water to assist pureeing (which actually smells like cat food) was a favourite of Miss number 2.

Lumpy-minced consistency: risoni pasta with frozen veg (the stuff that is chopped really fine) and a jar of cheese sauce, tuna mornay, risoni bolognaise, scrambled eggs.

Finger foods: toast with vegemite, Cruskits with Vegemite, soft veggies, cheese slices, teddy bear pasta ($1 a packet at woolies!) or better yet I found Thomas pasta at Coles, shredded chicken, rice with frozen veg, home-made fish fingers, home-made chicken fingers,

So there you go, not ground breaking, super inventive or super-mum-esce. Just common sense.

Please hit me up with questions if you have them. I’m happy to answer!

Happy eating…

The Dietitian Mummy

Fussy eating, is it just timing?

A lot of mums I see and know are very concerned with their children’s vegetable consumption. It’s a bit of a point of contention between mum and toddler and can get quite heated at times.


One of the things that we do habitually is serve our main meal (with vegetables) at dinnertime and a lighter (less vegetable heavy) meal like a sandwich at lunch. I know for me it’s about ease when I serve the sanga for lunch but I’m sure there are lots of other reasons for this too. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with sandwiches for lunch but the problem is this. Most kids eat more and are more open to trying new things at lunchtime.


Lunchtime is generally good territory for toddlers and preschoolers because they are not nearing bedtime, not jazzed up by mums stress trying to cook dinner while willing husband/partner to walk through the bleeding door, and not fed up with things that have happened throughout the day. So when you serve up fussy toddler’s dinner of beautifully prepared vegetables at this time, you are sometimes already starting on the back foot.


If you find your child not eating their vegetables, try not to get stressed, because it may purely just be that they are not in the right frame of mind for doing something they know mum is intent on them doing. Bringing vegetables into the lunchtime and even breakfast meal is a good way to try getting them at the right time for trying new or previously disliked foods.


I don’t want you to be cooking up main meals at lunch and dinner but you can easily put leftovers in the fridge or freezer of the main meal ready to serve them at lunch when they are brighter, happier and more “pliable” little beings.


Now here’s the disclaimer. I’m not saying that this will work for every kid, and for most fussy eaters it will probably not work the first few times. BUT if you’ve got a fussy eater who is resisting eating their veggies already, you are not going to be any worse off trying something different are you?


So have a go at making the switch and serve your main type meal at lunch and see if it makes a difference!


Happy feeding


The Dietitian Mummy