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I’m wary about giving my toddler potentially allergenic food
Q: My 15-month-old daughter doesn’t want to eat baby food anymore, but she sometimes chokes on our food. I worry about allergic reactions from foods like eggs, citrus fruits and peanut butter. Also, one day she eats something and the next day she doesn’t. I worry that she doesn’t eat enough or get enough vitamins. Her doctor told me to force her to eat.
Kelly Marlette
A: First of all, Kelly, you can’t force any child to eat, and doing so will probably cause your child to associate eating with unpleasantness. There is a favourite line among pediatric nutritionists: “It is the parent’s job to provide the food, not make the child eat it.” Your daughter will eat what she needs and will go through times when she eats many different foods and those when she eats the same thing ever day for weeks. This is normal toddler behaviour and doesn’t cause any damage.

I usually recommend giving toddlers a vitamin every day to provide those missing vitamins and minerals when they are practicing food fussiness. Be careful about obvious choke foods – those that are hard (like cut apples, veggies and nuts) should be avoided until she has her back molars. Vegetables can be steamed until they are soft and served cool.

Citrus should be fine unless she develops a facial rash. Egg allergies usually cause hives or wheezing. Peanut butter is just too sticky for most little kids to swallow comfortably, but it’s OK after 2 as long as there are no nut sensitivities. I understand your concerns, but in reality, we never know if a child will react to a food unless we try it. Please be assured that these food allergies are not as common as they would appear from books and magazines.

Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant