Toddler takes a cheesy route to real food

A cheesy snack has been credited with helping a toddler who could not eat properly.

When Hugo Smith was born his parents were told he suffered from a tracheoesophageal fistula, a congenital abnormality affecting one in every 3,500 babies.

Medics explained there was not only a large gap in his oesophagus, but it joined the windpipe, trapping air in his stomach and saliva in his lungs when he breathed.

Although the gap was fixed in a series of operations, the youngster still relied on a stomach tube, could not eat normally and his speech wasn't developing properly because he was not exercising his facial muscles by chewing.

But when he was 13 months old, he plucked up the courage to try a Wotsit – the first solid food he had ever eaten.

His mother Kim, 25, from Bridlington, said: "Hugo would only eat blended foods that were completely smooth. We had to play with foods to try and make them a positive experience.

"A Wotsit was his first solid food. He sucked it first and then took a big bite. I expected him to spit it out but he was grinning from ear to ear.

"We knew then we could progress on to more foods and he would be able to eat normally and could get the tube out of his stomach."

The two-year-old has had two more operations to stretch his oesophagus which had begun dangerously narrowing again. He will probably need to have more operations throughout his life.

But medics have said Hugo's prognosis is good and his stomach tube has been removed. Kim said Hugo now enjoys all grown-up food – with his favourite being spaghetti bolognese.