Jun 22, 2014

9 tips to make your toddlers love fruits

After posting my earlier article on 10 ways to make your toddlers love vegetables, a few of my friends suggested that I write a similar article on fruits. I was surprised, thinking, "Don't kids love fruits? They taste sweet!". While talking to my neighbor, she mentioned how her 5 year old daughter doesn't eat any fruits, except oranges. So this seems to be a problem as well, though not as big as feeding veggies.

Most of the principles from my earlier article still holds true when it comes to fruits. A few more which I would like to highlight:

1) Start early
Home made Fruit purees are one of the best weaning foods when you start introducing solids. Please avoid the ready-to-eat jars. They cost a bomb, imported ages back and tastes so artificial. It's very easy to make fruit purees at home. When D was around 6 months, I started her off with apple puree. She loved it and ate without a fuss. The recipe is very simple.
     - Wash the apples, peel them and chop them into chunks.
     - Place them in a bowl with little water. Pressure cook for 3 whistles.
     - After taking it out, puree in mixer.
     - For the initial few days, strain the pulp and give the juice.
     - Slowly introduce the mashed pulp.
Follow the same recipe for pear puree.

Around the same time, I also introduced banana purees. You don't have to cook them. Chop the banana into small pieces and puree it in mixer. I introduced the small yellow variety which is a healthier version as compared to the long ones.

2) Be consistent
Ensure you follow a routine for fruits - either as a mid-morning or an evening snack or both. Based upon how your child prefers to eat (pureed, mashed, cut up fine), serve them appropriately. You can try small pieces around 9-10 months to check if he/she is ready to chew. Try placing a small bowl with fine pieces in front of your kid. They are perfect finger foods for your child to start self-feeding. Please make sure you don't cut them into round shapes, as a safety precaution to avoid choking.

From the time D was 6 months until now, I ensure she eats some fruits every evening. It has become a routine for her that she should have fruits for her evening snack. Once she started to chew (around 9 months), I used to chop up raw apples into tiny pieces. She would pick and eat on her own. After a couple of months, she insisted she wanted bigger pieces from my bowl. She wanted to chew bigger pieces with only two tiny bottom teeth :-) I'm reiterating the point again - babies can chew with their hard gums, so try giving mashed up or finely chopped pieces. They would learn to chew eventually.

3) Introduce variety, focus on seasonal fruits
It was peak summer when D was around 8 months old. So we used to buy a lot of melons and mangoes. She loved purees of mangoes and muskmelons. After she started chewing, she went crazy over grapes. I used to chop grapes in half and give her in a bowl. She loved to pick and eat on her own. We did the same when it was strawberry season. As we have been continuing this habit for nearly 3 years, she has tasted almost all fruits available in Bangalore - guavas, custard apples, oranges, watermelon and pomegranates.

4) Stock up plenty
Before D was born, my snack section in my pantry was filled with junk, ready-to-eat foods such as chips, biscuits, cookies, packaged juice etc. As a family, we started to focus more on nutrition and eating right. We have cut down on all the junk and have increased our weekly expenditure towards fruits. There will always be 3-4 varieties of fruits at home. D observes all the fruits arranged in the fruit basket and she would ask what she wants.

5) Have no fear
Some moms might fear that fruits might cause cold and congestion. No, they don't. Make sure you don't feed them immediately after taking it out of the fridge. In case of bananas, the small yellow variety ones are perfectly fine. I have given oranges when D was having a slight cold. It didn't cause any problems.

6) Expand your horizon
Your kids might surprise you with the kind of fruits they like. D loved custard apples (though I hate it!) when they were in season. She also loves tangy oranges and grapes. Go beyond bananas and apples. Reduce the imported ones like Washington apples and kiwis which have traveled a long distance and have lost all their nutrition before it reaches your hands. Pick the local ones like guavas, grapes, papayas and chikoos (sapota).

7) Make something
If your kid loves milk, mash some bananas, chikoos or mangoes and serve a yummy milkshake. Or whip them up with some curd and offer a thick smoothie or flavored yoghurt. Bananas can be easily incorporated into cakes, muffins and pancakes. Make a delicious fruit salad with some vanilla custard. Try these options if your kid doesn't eat fruits or you want to include some variety. First preference should always be towards fresh raw fruits.

8) Carry it along
Fruits are your best friend when you are traveling with a toddler. You can easily carry some bananas, pomegranate seeds, grapes, chopped guavas or pears. Carry the chopped pieces in an airtight container, so it stays fresh during the journey.

9) Juice as a treat
If your kid prefers to drink fruit juice, make it at home. The packaged drinks are loaded with sugar and preservatives, with just a little fruit. Yes, even the ones that claim "100% fruit". You don't need an expensive juicer to make juices at home. Your regular mixer will do. A whole fruit is healthier as compared to the juice with added sugar. So try offering juice only as a treat at home.

Do share your thoughts on how you incorporate fruits into your child's diet.

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