Feeding FAQ: 12-18 months – Food Fads/Fussiness

his may not sound like a problem, but my son doesn’t like potatoes in any form! It’s hard doing dinner, as potatoes go well with most things, like stew, roast, sausages and chicken.I have tried mash, roast, boiled, oven-baked chips and jacket potatoes, but he doesn’t like them in any form.

What can I give instead? I need something to satisfy him, as the main things he eats are vegetables (broccoli, peas, cauliflower, sweet corn) and meat. He isn’t particularly fond of pasta, and you can only give so much before it’s boring! Besides, plain pasta is awful. Thanks for your help.

You have had a frustrating time trying to get your son to eat potatoes cooked in such a variety of ways! Well done for persisting with this, as it’s always a good idea to serve any food a number of times before concluding that your child doesn’t like it. It does sounds as though your son is quite adamant in his dislike for potatoes though, and you are doing exactly the right thing in looking for something to give him instead, rather than just providing extra portions of the other foods on the plate. It is important to give energetic toddlers plenty of starchy carbohydrate foods like potatoes because these provide most of the calories for physical activity, including running, jumping and playing – favourite toddler pastimes. In addition, just as you have found, these foods are a very filling part of the meal, more so than vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Although potatoes grow in the same way as some foods from the vegetable group, nutritionally they are more similar to grain-based foods. Thus, the foods to choose to replace the potato on the plate are from the carbohydrate or starchy food group: bread and other grain foods such as rice, pasta and breakfast cereals. So your comment about giving pasta was spot on, though if he’s not too keen on it you’ll want to give other options more frequently. These include rice and rice cakes, as well as bread in its multitude of forms: pitas, bread rolls, sandwiches, bagels, English muffins or crumpets. Cous cous is exceptionally quick and easy to cook (there will be directions on the pack) and children love it; try adding a few sultanas or brightly coloured, chopped peppers. You might also like to experiment with other grains, such as pearl barley, which can be served boiled but is also great in a soup, and quinoa, which is available from health food shops and has a lovely nutty flavour.

Though most adults would turn their nose up at plain pasta, many children love it, and it is nutritionally similar to plain potato or rice. If your son gets bored with it, you could try adding a tablespoon of tomato-based pasta sauce or cream cheese to moisten it – this would probably go well beside the chicken dishes you normally serve potatoes with. The whole family might enjoy cous cous with your stews to mop up the delicious juices, and when having sausages you could try giving them to your son on pieces of bread roll.
Do take heart from the fact that many children go through phases of disliking one food or another. In a few months you might find that your son is looking for mashed potatoes with every meal!