Archive for the ‘Feeding problems’ Category

I know about speech and coordination development. Is there eating development?

It is sheer delight to notice baby’s responses to our talk to them, and very special the day they say “mum or “dad”.  Usually everything goes well with eating too, but not always. We all enjoy noticing a baby’s development towards learning to walk. If a baby has problems swallowing food or managing sounds we can get help from speech therapists. If there is coordination delay we can obtain the help of a physiotherapist. If there is general developmental delay we see an occupational therapist. What is the important idea here?  It is that there is variation in how long some children take to manage all these important developments. Some children are up and running at 8 months and others take their own time and walk at 20 months. Did you realize that these are both within the normal range? Yes, the variation amongst children is that wide. Not only that, if you see one of these therapists they will explain that there are different aspects to any developmental problem and there can be a process building on what your child can manage and steps to progress where delay happens.

What has this got to do with eating? It is that there is also progression in managing eating. If we think about it we can see that eating progressions are not as obvious as the other developments. Nor is slower speed of eating progression a big problem in some ways. All babies do learn to have food so we may not think about it as a part of development. We may have thought about babies reaching the stage of “being ready for solids”. But we may not have thought about other eating progressions equally worthy of being described as developmental milestones.

What is the important idea? It is that each baby progresses through many paths of eating development. There is a path where more and more tastes are managed. There is a path where more texture is managed. There is a path where increase and decrease in temperature is managed, in thickness, strength of smell, and so on. Each baby takes its own time to progress through all of them. The sum total of all these progressions is called “eating development”. The detail of eating development is outlined in Chapter 2 of Fussy Baby with a description of each one on its own, how you can encourage management and enjoyment of that development in your baby.

What is the upside of this idea? It is the realization that where a baby is taking more time to progress through one or two of these there is no reason to feel anxious. It may just that your baby is one who, for example, is not interested in food warmer or cooler than other babies you know are. When you realize that there are several different pathways you can look at all of those that are progressing and take little steps to encourage the one you think needs a little more support. There is an Eating Development Summary Chart at the end of Chapter 2 to note where your baby is up to in each development. You can enjoy realizing how much your baby is managing in the complex world of all the parts of eating food! The other plus is that the normal range of management of strong flavours, scratchy foods, very warm or cold foods, and all the other parts of eating development, is from a few months to 2 years! If you are gradually progressing with all the different pathways there is no reason to feel there is a problem that is outside the normal range, until after 2 years!

Parent aware, child will get there

While a child is learning to accept foods it helps if the parent understands that every change is a new experience for the baby and the baby may or may not be ready for that change.


By being aware the parent can see just what aspect of the food is not accepted and take a step back to progress according to what aspects of the food the child can manage and what new aspects may take more time. Eg when a new food is introduced the baby is coping with a different taste, texture, smell, thickness and maybe temperature.


The more a parent learns about eating development, watches what aspects of food matter to her infant, the more changes she will be able to make in the foods provided. This means more enjoyment at baby’s eating development and less frustration at not knowing what to do when baby hesitates with some new food.

Parents judged for eating problems

Parents judged when 7-year olds have eating problems. Is this eating delay?

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A recent study reported that infants who had began lumpy solid foods after nine months were more likely to have more feeding problems at age seven than those who started them before nine months. These children also ate less variety of foods. The authors recommend that professionals advise parents to encourage the progression from purees to lumpy foods from as early as six months, and to increase the variety of foods.
But being told that you should have done something does not mean it could have been done if you decided that at the time. Many parents know it is not as easy as it sounds. Here we can stop and think about what these results may mean. What if it was reported that parents who did not encourage a variety of words in infancy were more likely to have children with speech problems at age seven. We would immediately say that we know that all children learn to speak at a different rate and some still have speech problems at age seven. We know that problems occur even if parents encourage talking by talking to their baby all along the way.

If we use the important idea that eating is also a developmental process then we would begin to think about eating in a different light. We could then recognize that all children learn to eat a variety of foods at different rates.

The problem is that eating development is not one progression but many developmental pathways. Parents need to know all about eating development and how know about how to manage all aspects to encouraging each of them separately.

There is taste development, texture development, temperatures development, and many others including smell, thickness, thirst, chewing, amount of food, time between meals, and managing gagging developments. And it can get more complicated when blending all of these progressions with all the other developmental processes occurring at the same time! These are explained in detail in the new book Fussy Babies
We might agree with the researchers that the more parents encourage a shift from puree to lumpy foods early, and encourage a variety of tastes, the more it helps eating progression. But we feel frustration when we know that even when parents do their best difficulties of one sort or another about accepting foods still occur. And we know that those who were fussy or picky eaters in infancy are more likely to still have problems at age seven. We might ask these researchers to appreciate that eating is just as complex a developmental process as any other developmental achievement such as speech. We can think that parents whose children have eating problems should not be judged, just as we do not judge parents whose children have speech or any other developmental disorder.

Joan Breakey

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I ‘stink’ something!

It is interesting just how supersensitive some children are! One little girl was reported by her mother to notice smells in particular. She disliked smells to the extent that she noticed all smells as negative because of their strength in her awareness. So instead of saying “I smell something” she said “I stink something”. We can listen to what children are saying and say how cute it sounds. and we can learn to be aware that they may be telling s something important about how the world affects them.

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The new Fussy Babies book now available !

NEW Fussy Babies now available

NEW Fussy Babies now available

Fussy Babies written by specialist Food Sensitivity Dietitian Joan Breakey clarifies the introduction of solids and food sensitivity, and reveals new information about eating development and supersensitivity. Fussy Babies will help you understand why your baby may be struggling and provides practical recommendations that you can do put into place immediately and start seeing results.

You’ll also discover preventive approaches so fussy babies are less likely to becoming fussy children. The principles included in Fussy Babies can help your baby get off to a great start for the rest of their life. For more information or to purchase click here

Fussy babies – practical advice on Introduction of Solids, Eating Development and Food Sensitivity

Fussy babies – practical advice on Introduction of Solids, Eating Development and Food Sensitivity for mothers and health professionals

By Joan Breakey

Provides a great insight for mother and a fantastic resource for dietians and other health professionals, particularly dietitians.  Available on line at Easter 2010

Why it is useful for professionals:

Chapter 1 – When introduction of solids gets complicated

This chapter gives a useful overview of introduction of solids that emphasises all parts equally not presuming introduction of solids is just related to one orientation such as prevention of allergies or watching for some signs of readiness. It covers all the parts of introduction of solids, particularly covering how and why it can get complicated. Successful breastfeeding can be followed by successful introduction of solids.

Chapter 2 – Eating development

Breast feeding is the ideal way to prepare the baby for the next process the brain has to manage: obtaining nutrients from solid food. Managing a good diet is learned via new pathways in the brain, separate from muscular or mechanical development, or those problems which could be seen as psychological or phobic. It provides detailed information on how to use knowledge of eating development in each of the areas such as taste, texture, temperature, smell, so that baby can progress to eating family food. Importantly, professionals can use this information to help when parents think their infant has stopped in his or her eating progression, for example, by refusing lumpy or scratchy food. The exact issue can be clarified and progress can begin again.

Chapter 3 -  Is Your Baby Food Sensitive?

After medical investigations have excluded various reasons for the many symptoms that occur, food sensitivity should be considered. Managing introduction of solids alongside preventing allergies, managing known allergic symptoms, and investigating diet for possible food sensitivity can be tricky. This chapter provides guidelines on how to fit these in while still ensuring other important parts such as breast feeding or nutrition are still incorporated. Much diet investigation and management of both allergy and food chemical intolerance can still be done while breastfeeding. This chapter provides guidelines on how to fit in preventing allergies, providing treatment of known allergic symptoms, and investigating diet for possible food sensitivity while still ensuring other important parts, such as breast feeding, or nutrition, are still incorporated.

Chapter 4

Supersensitivity in Food Sensitive Babies
Supersensitivity to the many sensory inputs does occur, especially in food sensitive families. An awareness of its presence helps professionals to appreciate what the family can deal with. Fortunately it is reduced where diet investigation decreases symptoms.

Appendix  – Reading around the topic

This book developed after writing the overview of what is involved in introduction of solids, particularly coming to the general topic from the directions of eating development, food sensitivity and supersensitivity. Other books are oriented from the breast feeding , nutrition, Baby-led Weaning or managing very fussy eaters points of view. But all aspects of introduction of solids need to include the concept of eating development. Without this orientation a central concept is missed.

Available on line at If you want to be one of the first to get Fussy Babies email us now and we’ll notify you as soon as it’s available .

Fussy babies – What you haven’t heard about Introduction of Solids, Eating Development, and Food Sensitivity

The introduction of solids [IOS] to infants is quite a complex process. It involves helping a baby manage to move from relying totally on breast or formula milk to eventually relying totally on other food. Overall there are some general principles and then there are issues to consider as each baby is different. Check out Joan’s new article for more information