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Top Tips from the Baby & Child Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed

By Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Charlotte Stirling-Reed, in-house Baby and Child Nutritionist at award-winning children’s food brand, Little Dish shares her expert advice on key food and nutrition related topics such as, fussy eating, healthy snacking, and how to nurture a love for food from an early age.  

Both Little Dish and Charlotte are determined to help parents give their little ones the best possible start on their food journey.  Here Charlotte shares her Top Tips for some of the most common questions parents ask her about feeding babies and young children. 

How to Tackle a Fussy Eating Phase

  • Role modelling: try to eat with your little one often, and eat a wide variety of foods, as they learn what to eat from watching you eat 
  • Think variety: the more variety you offer, the more they’re likely to accept new tastes and textures
  • Be consistent: establish a routine and try to stick to it 
  • Avoid pressure: this is likely to backfire and put them off trying new foods
  • Make mealtimes fun: the more fun they are, the more little ones will  want to be involved

Healthy Snacking 

  • Have a routine: a structure around meals and snacks means your little one knows when to expect food
  • Think variety: offer a variety of snacks to ensure they have a balance of nutrients throughout the day
  • Tailor snacks to your child: even though the recommendation for children is to have three meals and two or three snacks a day, all children are different so work out what works best for your child 
  • Include all food groups: try making snacks “mini meals”, by offering a carbohydrate food, a portion of veg/fruit, protein/iron rich foods and sometimes some dairy or alternatives.
  • Add extra goodness: make the most of the nutrients offered at snack time with an extra stir of peanut butter or a dollop of yogurt or a sprinkle of milled seeds, for example 

How to Nurture a Love of Food 

  • Eat together: children are more likely to enjoy food if they see you eating and enjoying food with them
  • Let them join in: bring them to the table at an early stage so they get used to sharing meal times with family and friends 
  • Don’t just eat it: get them involved in growing it, cooking it, shopping for it and reading about it
  • Think variety: familiarise them with a wide variety of foods
  • Avoid labelling foods: avoid offering food rewards and labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’

Introducing Herbs & Spices 

  • Start gradually: to familiarise their taste buds with new flavours
  • Think variety: add plenty of variety to get them used to different flavours from an early age 
  • Use family favourites: get little ones used to the herbs and spices you use regularly in your cooking 
  • Avoid adding salt: instead use herbs and spices to flavour to their meals 
  • Get creative: think about adding a pinch of nutmeg to a cheese sauce, or a pinch or cinnamon to their morning porridge 

Balancing Meals and Portion Sizes

  • Let them lead: look out for ques that they’ve had enough or they’re still hungry 
  • Work together: You decide what they’re going to have to eat, and let them decide how much they want to eat 
  • Offer all food groups: include fruits/vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and iron rich foods, dairy & alternatives
  • Add extra goodness: add an extra stir of nut butter, a dollop of yogurt or a sprinkle of seeds 
  • Have a routine: try to have a structure for meals and snack times

Cooking with Kids

  • Start simple: use two or three ingredient recipes 
  • Involve them often: encourage  kids to help out in the kitchen regularly, e.g whisking eggs, buttering toast or finding the right cooking equipment
  • Prepare: read the recipe first to pick out safe and easy jobs for little helpers
  • Embrace the mess: try to accept there will be both mess and chaos!
  • Have fun: this way they’ll enjoy the experience and want to do it again, and that’s how they’ll learn to cook in the future 

Little Dish’s award-winning recipes are developed with the advice of Charlotte Stirling-Reed, ensuring that parents are able to confidently feed their children a well-balanced meal, containing nothing but natural ingredients and absolutely no additives or preservatives. Little Dish’s delicious, veg-packed  recipes always include at least one, but typically two, of a child’s recommended five-a-day and every dish meets the exacting standards of the 150-strong panel of Tiny Tasters, who taste everything that comes out of the Little Dish Kitchen before it hits shop shelves. 

Charlotte Stirling-Reed is an award-winning, registered Nutritionist and currently hosts regular live Q&A sessions for Little Dish where parents can get advice on all aspects of feeding their babies and young children.  Follow Little Dish on InstagramFacebook and Twitter or visit the website for more information.