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Baby & toddler nutrition webchat, with Charlotte Stirling-Reed, Monday 25th July, from 12-1pm

Wondering what foods to eat while breastfeeding? Want advice for successful weaning? Got a toddler who's a fussy eater?

Join our expert in paediatric nutrition, Charlotte Stirling-Reed on Monday 25th July, from 12-1pm for a live webchat.

Charlotte will be online for one hour to answer your questions. Don't worry if you can't make that time post your question now and Charlotte will endevour to answer as many questions on the day as possible...

As one of our Greatvine experts you can also speak to Charlotte Stirling-Reed on the telephone for one-to-one advice. To speak with Charlotte, call 0906 194 9911 (??1.50/min)


  • Hi Charlotte

    My daughter is 2 and has always been a difficult eater. We have tried a huge variation of foods with her but she is so limited as to what she will even try. Her portions are tiny. A typical lunch will be a bite or two of sandwich and a few crisps, a small square of cheese and maybe a few spoons of yogurt. Apparently my husband was a nightmare eater at this age too, so I am hoping she will develop an appetite.

    Do you think she should have a supplement? Any suggestions on how to get her to eat more?

  • Hi Charlotte,

    Have you got any tips for eating or drinking the right kinds of things that will encourage milk production whilst breast feeding? When I had my last baby he was very hungry and sadly I just wasn't producing enough milk for him. I'd really like to do anything I can this time to ensure I produce more milk for my next baby if at all possible.

  • Welcome to today's webchat. is pleased to welcome Charlotte Stirling-Reed, who will be online in 15 minutes to answer your nutrition and feeding questions...
  • Hi all,

    It is Charlotte here and I am looking forward to answering some of your nutrition related questions from 12.00-1.00 on this forum today.


  • Hi Hollyplusone,

    Thanks for your questions. Fussy eating is a very common phase in most toddlers lives but how you deal with it will determine how long the phase lasts!

    Sometimes we overestimate how much food toddlers need and so it is important to try and remember that their stomachs are actually really small (around the same size as their fist) and therefore they may need less food than you think. Children are also very good at knowing their own appetite so a rule I like to stick to is ???????you decide what to offer and let them decide how much to have???????. If your daughter is growing well then she is probably eating enough foods but dealing with the fussy behaviour is a different case in itself.

    -Having regular meal and snack times (around 3 small meals and 2 or 3 small healthy snacks at similar times each day) can help your daughter to build up a regular eating pattern which is important for her to learn hunger and fullness signs. Try not to give foods at random times during the day as she (and you) will not be able to keep track of how much has been eaten.

    -Make sure mealtimes are very separate from ???????playtimes???????. Avoid distractions such as television, toys, books and try and encourage your daughter to concentrate on the food.

    -Another really important point is not to offer alternatives at mealtimes. So often parents are so frightened of their children not eating that they will offer anything in the hope of getting some food into them. However, this is actually likely to make the fussy eating worse. When you offer your daughter meals e.g. a sandwich and a yoghurt, don't offer alternative foods if the sandwich is not eaten as this will teach your daughter that if she refuses the food you give she can have something else instead and then the food refusal will become more regular.

    -If you offer a sandwich (or any food) and your daughter has only a few bites, give her lots of praise for the food she has eaten and then just take any uneaten food away after about 20minutes. Your daughter will not go hungry but this will help her build up her appetite for the following meal or snack to come.

    -Importantly, keep trying. New foods sometimes are refused up to 20 times before they are accepted so don't give up on a food if it is refused a few times. Keep offering the variety you mentioned and just offer plenty of praise when these foods are eaten.

    For more advice you can download some information free from the Greatvine website here: and although it focuses on fruit and vegetables you can use the tips with foods in general.

    Lastly, with regard to the vitamins it is recommended that children 1-5 years should have some vitamin drops, not as a replacement to food, but as a safeguard. It may be worthwhile talking to your doctor or pharmacist about these but try to opt for the drops and not the syrups as syrups often have lots of added sugar.

    I hope you find this useful.

    Thanks again,

  • Hi Mrsmcsweeney,

    The production of breast milk is suited to the demand for milk from your baby so essentially, the more you feed your baby the more breast milk you will produce. I'm not sure what made you think that you weren't producing enough last time but just making sure you feed whenever your baby gives signals that they are hungry should increase the milk produced. Sometimes it might take your body a few days to catch up with the demand if your baby is having a growth spurt or teething and suddenly demanding more so try and persevere and just offer more frequent feeds. Additionally, offer both breasts at each feed. As long as your baby is growing well, not losing weight and producing plenty of wet nappies then they are probably getting enough milk.

    In terms of your eating and drinking whilst breastfeeding it is important that you make eating a high priority for yourself, keep meals simple but try and eat regularly with about 3 main meals and 2 or 3 healthy snacks each day. If you struggle with this try having smaller meals more frequently to ensure you have enough energy and nutrients for yourself and your milk.

    Keep hydrated by drinking whenever you are thirsty and try and have some fluid by your side whenever you feed your baby. Additionally, opt for nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains instead of high fat and/or high sugar foods. Eat a variety of foods at each meal and really importantly, make sure you are not stressed and are getting enough rest throughout the day as this can improve your milk production.

    Lastly, in terms of specific foods some people find that increasing their intake of oats (e.g. porridge) has helped them increase milk supply so you could always opt for a healthy porridge in the morning and see if this helps you.

    I hope this has been useful.

    Best of luck,

  • Tip: When feeding your baby make sure you remain calm at all times. If baby notices you are distressed it is likely to make them distressed too and could put them off feeding.

  • Tip: try not to compare your baby's weaning, feeding, growth or any other progress with other babies. All babies are very different so if you are unsure check with an expert but try not to make comparisons.

  • Hi Charlotte

    I am lucky in the fact that my in laws look after my toddler 2 days a week. However I have a sneaky suspicion they are feeding her rubbish and spoiling her with sweets, biscuits and crisps as she comes home so ratty and isn't interested in what I call good food. I know they mean well and its difficult to bring up as they are helping out. Is it true that children's behaviour is effected by food? Do you have any advice on how I can approach the subject with the in-laws so they realise they are actually doing more harm than good.

  • Hi Charlotte,

    I am actually worried my child eats way too much. She's 2 and is a bottomless pit! I worry that she isn't recognising when she is full. She has fairly large portions, always has a pudding (well, demands a pudding), and would snack endlessly if I let her. She now has a real potbelly that family members are commenting on image

    I try to restrict her to specific mealtimes with only one snack at 3pmish, but I worry about what she's eating when she's being minded by family members. I know they give her enormous portions and let her snack constantly too because she always asks for more.

    Apart from the big potbelly, she is on the 75% centile in the growth charts so I know she's not 'overweight' as such. Do I need to be worried?

    Thanks, carapops
  • Hi Charlotte,

    I try really hard to feed my toddler healthy nutritious meals but get stuck when it comes to thinking up healthy puddings or treats. Apart from pieces of fruit what can you recommend I give him?

  • Hi there,

    Im intending to breastfeed, Whats your opinion on feeding on demand? I always thought you should get into a routine and feed every 3/4 hrs so baby is hungry and will feed properly, but I'm reading more and more that you should feed on demand. But wont this mean they might just suckle when they are not really hungry and just comfort feed?

    thanks in advance
  • Hi ErinH_2011,

    Ah, this is an excellent question as yours is a very common problem. Of course grandparents often want to spoil their grandchildren and make them feel special but you are right to be concerned. Eating behaviours and patterns are established early on in childhood and therefore children who have more of the foods you are referring too often have a preference for these foods throughout their childhood and adult life. Additionally, more and more research is coming out to show that these foods do have significant impacts on children's behaviours and moods. Having the odd packet of crisps or biscuits is not a problem but these foods becoming regular eating practice is.

    In terms of approaching your grandparents there are many ways you could approach.

    You could try and be very honest and open by having a discussion (with all members of the family who care for your toddler) about what foods you feel are appropriate, having regular mealtimes and how important you feel eating well is for your daughter all the while emphasising how grateful you are for their help.

    Additionally you could try an approach such as ???????I read the other day.....??????? and inform them of the importance of foods in the toddler years, the levels of sugar, fat and salt in junk foods and the long term consequences of these.

    You could also try leaving factsheets, leaflets and articles around for them to read or recommending they watch a particular show or documentary which discussed these issues out of interest.

    Lastly, find some healthy snack foods that your toddler loves e.g. crackers and cheese, dried fruits, plain yoghurts with fruits and let your inlaws know that she likes these foods a lot which may encourage them to offer these instead.

    Communication is really key in this situation- whichever method you feel is best.

    I hope this helped.



    For information and some free articles please visit my page here:
  • Hi Carapops17,

    It is important to keep an eye on her growth and weight but we wouldn't be wanting any children to lose weight so just keep monitoring her over time.

    The most important thing for your daughter seems to be for her to have the regular eating patterns established. It is a good idea to suggest to family (see above answer) what meal times and snack times she should have as a routine around mealtimes is key to regulating your daughters appetite.

    Offer 3 main meals and 2 healthy snacks at similar times each day and try to get other family members to stick to this also. Additionally, make sure she is not snacking on high fat, high sugar ???????junk??????? food products.

    In terms of mealtimes, offering a meal and a small pudding is fine but try offering smaller portions initially on her plate. Focus on fruit based puddings or healthy yoghurts rather than the high fat and sugar foods as these will provide her with a boost of essential nutrients.

    If you feel that your daughters portions are too large it is important that you try and reduce them but the key to this is to do it very gradually over a long period of time. Any dramatic changes in portion size and she just won't be satisfied. Reduce the portion by a small amount each week to give her time to adjust to smaller portions without her noticing.

    Lastly, try and focus on vegetables at mealtimes offering more of these on the plate than other foods.

    I hope this helps.

    Good Luck,

  • Hi Em2B,

    I am really glad you offer lots of nutritious foods - that's great.

    Puddings can be difficult but can also be a great way to top up the nutrient intake of your children so focusing on healthier alternatives is important.

    Plain yoghurt mixed with frozen, tinned or dried fruits is excellent - try and get your children involved in the mixing of the fruit into the yoghurt.

    You can also make smoothies and ice creams this way too (add a non-sugar cone or wafer for ice cream of blend for smoothie with some ice).

    Fruit salads are again, a popular choice. Additionally, fruit scones with a little jam and plain yoghurt or homemade flapjacks. You can always get healthy recipe ideas online or make banana, carrot or other fruit based cakes. Additionally, many normal cakes can be made using fruit juice or dried fruits in place of the sugar which helps to boost the nutrients in the pudding.

    I hope this helps,

  • Hi Miss_Xan,

    Yes, breastfeeding should be on demand and really, specific time slots are not advisable as every baby is so different and you cannot determine the milk needs in terms of hourly slots.

    Comfort feeding can however, be a problem - especially later on but what you will likely find is that after a short time you will learn to recognise specific signals from your baby that they are hungry. These signals will be very different from other signals such as baby being cold or wanting some comfort so do try to recognise what your baby wants so that you don't end up feeding at every sign.

    However, you may find that a routine does develop around when your baby takes their feeds and it will probably be around every 2-3 hours or so and this is fine as long as you are still able to respond to hunger and fullness signals of your baby.

    I hope this helps

  • healthy snack ideas:

    fruit scones

    fruit breads,

    rice cakes,

    smooth peanut butter (no added sugar),

    frozen fruit juice (100%juice diluted with water),

    fresh, frozen, canner, dried fruit with plain yoghurt,

    pancakes with fruit and or yoghurt,

    homemade oatckaes,

    homemade popcorn with paprika,

    breadsticks and vegetable sticks with hummous,

    Hope that gives you all some more ideas.

    Please feel free to call me for more support or information 09056754742 or visit:

    for more support and advice.

    Many Thanks for all your questions - do let me know if you would like further clarity on any of my advice.

    Best Wishes,

    Charlotte Stirling-Reed

    Director of SR Nutrition
  • P.s. my website will soon be up and running so keep a look out. For now you can also follow me on twitter @SR_Nutrition.

    thanks all,

  • Thanks so much to Charlotte for a really informative chat and for hanging on a whole extra hour to make sure all the questions were answered.

    Don't forget, as she is one of our Greatvine experts, you can also speak to Charlotte Stirling-Reed on the telephone for one-to-one advice. To speak with Charlotte, call 0906 194 9911 (??1.50/min)
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