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Would she be getting enough iron with an occasional bit of meat and baked beans?

Hi Leanne, my husband and I are little bit concerned about our 32 month old daughters iron intake. She is eating very little meat at the moment and not a whole lot of vegies. She will eat the ocaisonal bit of sausage, and sometimes the meat in a lasange but they takes some convincing. She was eating an egg a day but has being turning those down. She likes fish fingers but we only give her those a couple times a times a week. She has never really liked chicken. She has a multi-vitamin once a day with 6.1mg of iron in it. Would she be getting enough with that, and ocasional bit of meat, and baked beans on multi-grain toast a few days a week?

Also she only really has potato, tinned beans and tomatos etc in pasta sauce as vegies, and pears, banannas and sultanas as fruit. We are trying to get more varity in her diet and mix up what she does and offer other veggies on her plate. This has worked with the baked beans as she only recently tried them after first being offered them as a baby. She has no problem having, milk, youghurt, cheese, rice, pasta, any bread, peanut butter, vegemite and vita-brits. Would she be getting enough from these foods? It`s hard to hide foods as most of the common suggests like nuggets are things she doesn`t like. She isn`t even big on cakes.

She is otherwise a healthy, but skinny kid who has always sat on the 50% mark in weight and just over in height. Should we be worried or are we on the right track?

Also we limit any junk food, not that she likes it much, apart from an odd bit of chocolate or ice cream. Somtimes chips or pizza.
Thanks for reading my question.

Answer: Hi There, Yes I have to say you have a pretty normal fussy eater and I would imagine there will be lots of other parents reading your question and nodding agreement as they go. All very normal! To be honest, you are going along reasonably well, it is more alarming when children refuse to eat anything but noodles an sausages - literally! You litte one is getting a range of fruit (as you say it could be wider, but look at things like smoothies and freeze them as iceblocks, they generally get the thumbs up), also eating tomatoes is great because they have so many health benefits. If you are concerned about iron a good thing to do is visit a nutritionist, naturapath or dietitian who specialises in children and can do a computerised diet analysis. That way you can get a snap shot of how she is going with her nutrients. It can be very reassuring. Also don`t forget many of the foods we eat are fortified with iron, so you may find that the milk and cereal has extra iron in it. Keeping in mind her RDI for iron is 9mg with the supplement and just normal eating she is very likely to be getting her RDI and then some, so it should be fine. On the topic of fussy eating, most healthcare professionals will say that as long as your child is gaining weight at their usual rate and is happy and healthy, they won`t starve themselves. But as a parent this can be of little comfort. Checklist:
  1. Gently persist with offering the healthy stuff even if it is rejected
  2. Sneak in the good stuff where you can which makes avoiding the battles (no-one wins those ones) easier
  3. Get them involved
  4. Offering a healthy supper down the line if dinner is rejected and your toddler complains of being hungry
  5. Trying to use the foods they do eat as a basis for making other food/meals that are more likely to be enjoyed. For example cream cheese on a bagel, pasta with bacon and a cream cheese base, bread and butter pudding made with calcium enriched milk such as soy or rice, try sweet potato chips etc.
  6. Swap lunch and dinner if that helps and make meal portions achievable (small but healthy).
  7. Check milk or other fluids aren`t interfering with their appetite.
  8. Repeat the mantra ‚"this like all things in infancy and childhood, will pass" and it will!
I have a tip sheet on fussy eating on Huggies that might have some pointers, but again I really think it would be best to get some help with this, the link is: Picky Eating Also I think the Jessica Seinfeld book using purees is a good idea, but I reduce the sugar, use olive oil and don`t add salt, I also have a recipe book based on my fussy foodie. But it sounds like you are utilising this trick already. Another option is a feeding expert, the gals at No Fuss Feeding (website of the same name) are excellent with feeding issues, and it`s their specialty. Or in a similar vein an early childhood consultant who can help with behavioural tips. But honestly, it doesn`t sound like a feeding issue, just fussy eating. So I hope that gives you some ideas, keep offering the good stuff, and keeping the junk to a limit as you are doing. It is our job to offer healthy food and theirs to choose what to eat from that. Think also laterally, don`t forget things like baby rice cereal added into meals it is a good source of iron, things like pulses are a good alternative to vegies and also foods like goji berries are packed full of nutrition. All the best, Leanne
Answered: 22 Apr 2009