Tuesday April 21st: toddler food webchat

Join us here on Tuesday April 21st, 12-1pm for a webchat on Your toddler's diet: what he should be eating. It will be hosted by food scientist and mum-of-two Carina Venter, a senior reseach fellow at the University of Portsmouth. Carina will be answering your questions about everything to do with toddler diets: what you should be feeding your child; what to steer clear of; how to avoid or deal with allergies etc.


  • Carina will be online from 12 noon today to answer any questions about toddler food, diets, allergies etc. Please feel free to start posting your questions for Carina now.
  • Hallo Everyone

    Please feel free to fire away with any questions you may have about feeding your toddler.

  • Hi there, i have a little boy who'll be 19months next week and i'm getting really frustrated with his food,
    He's good with his breakfast, normally toast followed by fruit and he's okay with snacky things but if I try and give him a cooked meal he jsut won't eat any.
    He loves all fruit but won't even try a vegetable.
    i've found that he's okay with homemade pizzas with veg on, or he'll eat chicken bits coated in breadcrumbs that i make but won't even entertain shepherds pie, fish pie or anything like a cooked dinner.
    He will also only eat fish adn chicken and won't try lamb or beef

    Is it just a toddler stage as he was good when he was on liquidised food
  • Hi Carina
    I see you have an interest in child allergies. My son suffers from eczema. He loves tomoatoes. Do you think maybe they're exacerbating it? I don't want to stop him eating them because they're really good for him otherwise, aren't they?
  • Claire asked a question regarding her 19 month old who loves his fruit, but not his veggies. He also likes snacky foods and toast, but is not very keen on cooked meals.

    Dear Claire

    The main thing is trying not get stressed about his eating habits as this can further increase food refusal.

    You are actually doing really well
    Let's start with the fruit and vegetable issue:
    It is more important to judge is intake over a week than we he neccesarily eats in one day. See www.littlepeoplesplates.co.uk for a food diary that you can complete
    over one day or a week.

    Also - if you manage to get 5 small portions for fruit in per day rather than 3 fruit and 3 vegetables - you are already doing really well.

    A lot of children at this stage do not like foods such as Shepherds Pie etc - just make sure that he gets a varied intake of foods based on what he will eat and keep offering the rest - he will eventually start eating these.

    Best of luck

  • Hi Carina
    My daughter Charlotte is 15 months and has a very small appetite. I think she's a grazer as she prefers snacking! She has been poorly recently so her appetite is even worse. She's only a little one and weighs not even 20lb yet but was only 5lb 14oz at birth. I sometimes think she looks quite skinny. I do cook lots of meals for her but recently she will only take a few mouthfuls then clamp shut & get quite upset. She will happily feed herself a cold pudding though. I try and give her lots of home made food as I think they are more fattening. She also has finger foods like sandwiches but will only pick at these. Please can you give me some advice as to how i can try & increase her intake? i'm starting to get desperate!
    Also I have a slight allergy to strawberries, they make my skin prickly. I haven't tried Charlotte with them yet incase she reacts. Am I right to do this?
  • Hi Carina,
    Are some fruits better than others for toddlers? I'm lucky enough to have a son who loves fruit - costs me a fortune, but hey, I'm not complaining! Just wondering if I should focus on some in particular, and why.
  • thanks for the boost of confidence, and i'll give that website a look
  • Ruby asked whether tomatoes can exacerbate eczema,

    I quite often get this question asked in clinic. We find that tomato and tomato based products can aggravate eczema in some children. Most of the time it causes a flare up of the eczema which resolves in about 10 -15 min. If this is the case, then you can continue to give tomatoes to your child. If however, eating tomatoes causes hives (looks like bites) then it could be a true allergy and you should see your GP.


  • Hi Carina,

    I'm looking for some tips on quick and easy meals. My baby is 10 months old and I've recently returned back to work full time, so there's often not enough hours in the day!

    I currently use Ragu for the whole family, but I'm worried it might not be right for my baby?

    Can you recommend some other sauces that I can add to pasta or vegetables that might healthier?

  • Hayley asked a question regarding Charlotte (15 months old) who is picky/snacky eater.

    Dear Hayley

    Regarding her weight: If she was born small, she will probably stay small. Get your health visitor to check her weight and providing she does not drop more than two centiles (lines) on the growth chart - don't worry too much.

    You are doing the right thing by preparing home cooked food and offering her snacks. She probably does have a small appetite and toddlers do have small tummies - but they need enough calories. That is why we recommend a diet high in fat and lower in fibre than what we would suggest for adults.

    Basically make sure that she gets a bit of meat/chicken/fish in 1-2 per day, even it is small portion. You can also make fruit smoothies with full fat yoghurts in order to give her a lot of calories and vitamins in a small serving.

    Have a look at www.infantandtoddlerforum.org for more information on dealing with children with smaller appetitites.

    The main thing is - don't worry - stick to meal times and offer snacks in between.

    Good luck

  • Hi Carina, do you know if children can 'inherit' an allergy? My partner is allergic to mushrooms, and I'm not sure if I should risk giving them to my 9 month old daughter. She already has a dairy allergy, which I'm hoping she will grow out of, but I'm not sure about introducing mushrooms in case she has a reaction. Also, do you think it would be OK to try her with something like Quorn? Thanks.
  • Thank you for your advice.

    Could you please advise me on the strawberries too as I have a slight reaction to them myself with prickly skin. I haven't yet given them to Charlotte.

    If i was to make a smoothie a strawberry would be a perfect ingredient?!

  • Hi Carina,

    Could you please let me know what size a portion of fruit or vegetables for a 15 month old? I am trying to get my lo to eat his 5 a day, but don't know whether I am beig too ambitious/mean in the size of portion I expect him to eat. His favourites are apple, banana or grapes (he just adores green grapes!) so this is what he tends to have the most of. I wonder whether I am giving him enough/too much to satisfy his 5 a day.

  • Flamenca wanted to know if some fruits are better than other:

    No not particularly - we usually recommend that toddlers should eat a serving at each meal and aim for around 5 servings per day. The more variety and colour the better. In order to enhance iron absorption it would be good to include at least one fruit high in vitamin C per day - ideally with meals such as oranges, satsumas mangoes.

    Take care

  • hi Carina
    My son is almost 16 months old and doesn't deal well with lumps in his food - for his main meals and stuff he's still eating stage 1 food.

    We give him a combination of jar food mixed with different veg, but if we try and give him stage 2 food - even just a small amount in with blended veg he gags and throws up or he won't eat it at all.

    Its not the texture of the stage 2 food cause if we blend it he's ok with it. its not that he can't handle lumps at all because he'll happily feed himself toast, biscuits, dry cereal etc, he's even eating cow & gate toddler museli. WE've tried all sorts - biscotti in his fruit pots to get him used to lumpy food (which he eats), stopping for a month + and trying again and i'm not sure where to take his eating now.

    He is getting better in small stages with finger food, and he'll often eat some of our food thats a bit lumpy and to some extent I think its a control thing which will get better once he can feed himself.

    I think he's pretty healthy cause he does eat fruit/veg even if its pureed, and we do give him meat jars mixed iwth those, or a couple of chicken recipes we do too from annabel karmal, and has gradually got better with normal fruit, I weighed him the other week and he's still around the same percentile as always, he still has formula for his early morning bottle as its easier so hes' getting vitamins and stuff from there.

    He was diagnosed with reflux which started around 7 1/2months old, he was 10 or 11 months when put on gaviscom and it works a treat, and I'm honestly not sure if some of the lumpy food gagging thing is in his head because he used to sick up his food when the reflux started.

    Just for an example, the other night i'd made his normal food, with some baby ravioli in tomato sauce for him to try and he refused it but then later discovered a bit on the floor where he'd thrown it, stuck it in his mouth, gagged on it and threw up.

    We don't stress out over eating, we do give him soup before his main course for both lunch and tea so that at least he's always eating something even if he refuses his tea, we don't ever push him to eat something he doesn't want (chances are he'll puke it if we do get something down his throat), so there is no pressure over mealtimes.

    I'm just at a real loss now whether I should try something else to get him eating more lumps - the hv made me feel like i should be 'pushing the lumpy foods' (in her words) at his 9 month check but i don't think thats the right thing to do.

    Also - can you recommend anywhere where there is a guide ot how much they should be eating at this age? I'm not sure if he's eating enough and thats the reason he sleeps badly.

    Thanks very much, sorry for the essay.. typing quickly and trying to get it all down because I'm sure the little monster is going to wake up soon!
  • Phillapas wanted some quick ideas for dinner - she has a 10 month old baby.

    Hallo - I know exactly what you are talking about! I have a 10 month old and have recently returned to work as well.

    As you mention - pasta is a quick option when you are rushed. I would recommend you look in the baby isles for suitable pasta sauces for your 10 month old - there are currently 2 baby food manufacturers who produce yummy sauces for young children.

    Also - you can whip up a quick pasta sauce at home by liquidising fresh tomatoes and cr????me frais. Just heat is up slightly (don't boil) and serve. I often put some cooked carrots, swede or sweet potato in the sauce as well. It freezes well.

    There are a few really good books on the market dealing with toddler food such as Jane Clarke's Yummy, and one by Judy More called Big Book of Recipes for babies, toddlers and children.

    Alternatively - try some mashed potatoes served with tinned salmon and peas - takes only a few minutes if you do the potatoes the night before or 5 minutes in the microwave.

    Look at our website www.littlepeoplesplates.co.uk for more information.

    Take care

  • Can children inherit an allergy is the next question:

    Children can inherit the likelihood of becoming allergic to foods or pollens, but it is often not the same allergy as the parent is suffering from. The current advice is that there is no evidence to delay the introduction of any foods after the age of 6 months (apart from peanut if the family has got allergies). However, if someone in the family is suffering from a particular food allergy - I would recommend that see your GP before introducing that food.


  • It's 1pm now, so no more questions, please. Many thanks to carina for her time and expert advice. Thanks too for all your questions. Carina has kindly offered to finish answering the last few before she signs off.
  • Dear All

    Claire re the strawberries: Please see my answer regarding inheriting allergies. If you are sensitive to the salicyaltes in strawberries - then it should be fine to give to you daughter. If however - you have a true allergy to strawberries - please speak to your GP.

    Rhian2: Regarding portion sizes of fruit for toddlers: We do not know! At the moment this is one question that researchers should be looking at, but in the mean time - we normally recommend about half a portion that would be given to adults. See www.littlepeoplesplates.co.uk for more information.


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