My kid won’t eat fruit!
It’s a parent’s common frustration that their little one will eat anything but fruit. Eeeek! And although you might try to coerce them into that banana by convincing them it’s bloody well good for them, kids can often act like we’re trying to make them eat dirt (and let’s face it, sometimes they’d prefer it!)
In my quest to help get your kids fruitified I’ve come up with 7 simple ways to encourage your kids to eat fruit, or if they already are pretty good and you want to be a super-parent, get them to eat more.
1. Make fruit art! Maybe your attempts at art are a little more Picasso than Da Vinci, but just making a silly smiley face will get a giggle out of most kids. For really simple fruit snacks, thread a variety of chopped fruit onto a wooden skewer. Making fruit into a mermaid, pirate, car or teddy bear can also really help your kids see fruit in a new light.
2. Turn fruit into ice cream!
Seriously, even an ice cream connoisseur like my daughter hasn’t raised an eyebrow at our fruity ice cream forays (and we used to own an ice cream shop!). And it’s an excellent healthy alternative – it’s dairy free, contains only natural sugars and hasn’t got the nasties of flavourings and additives that store-bought ice cream does.
You don’t have to have an ice cream maker to create delicious home-made fruit ice cream – check out Clean Green Simple’s Vegan Ice Cream Without a Machine for yummy fruit-based blends like Banana Berry, Chocolate Peanut Butter or Butter Pecan.
Another alternative is fruitsicles – forget the store bought, sugar-laden type, make your own, like The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s Watermelon Whole Fruit Popsicles!
3. Give them easy access
When fruit is hidden in the deep valley of some yonder fruit bowl, or only placed on a lofty kitchen bench out of reach, little ones can easily forget fruit is an option.
In our house, fruit literally covers the shelves, and is purposely kept at little-one-height. This makes fruit a self-serve option at any time – and also takes some hassle out of constantly supplying snacks throughout the day! Perhaps keep it on your coffee table, or lower on a book shelf.
4. Go fruit picking
If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that offers easy access to pick-your-own fruit farms, I highly recommend it as a way to get your kids to eat more!
Picking fruit can be really fun for kids – think muddy wellingtons, races to see who can fill up their bucket first, and hide and seek between the trees. Fruit picking also gives little ones a chance to connect with where their food comes from, and how it’s grown.
5. Let them choose
During one visit to Adelaide’s Central Market with my nephew, I offered him a couple of dollars spending money – on the condition that he could buy whatever fruit he wanted. Although already somewhat of a fruity-kid, he was still completely rapt that he could choose whatever he liked. And he ended up with two pineapples which he shared with his brother.
Try it out – on your next visit to a fruit shop, market or supermarket, offer your little one a small amount of money (whatever suits your budget), for them to choose whatever fruit they like.
If they’re old enough, give them their own handbasket to carry the fruit in, and let them pay the cashier. The whole experience will become more about them having independence and choice, and give them completely free reign to try whatever fruit they might like.
6. Make it a ‘milk’shake!
If your kids turn up their noses at the mere whiff of a strawberry, try whizzing them up with a bit of soy or almond milk in a blender. Got a little one that digs purple? Go for blueberries. As some berries can be a little tart depending on the season, adding a couple of medjool dates can help sweeten it up.
As a bonus health-kick, try ground flaxseed or chia seeds in the mix – as well as making your shake fluffy and thick, they are a fantastic source of iron, calcium and dietary fibre.
7. Supply fruit until it becomes demand
You know how it goes – your little one starts piping up about how hungry they are. Yep, it’s snack time again even though they just ate breakfast ten minutes ago! To preempt this condition commonly referred to as ‘bottomless pit syndrome’ or ‘hollow legs’, beat them to it. Whip out your chopping board without a word, and get busy! Silently cut a variety of fruit, whether it’s oranges, apples, pears or bananas, put it on their favourite plate and without a word, give it to them.
8. Lead by example!
I know I said I had 7 tips, but we’re talking about fruit so it never hurts to have one more! Tip number 8 speaks for itself. When your little ones see you loving fresh, properly ripe fruit, they may follow your lead more easily.
Finally, aim to make chowing down fruit an everyday, normal thing, rather than a big deal. If you can relenquish a bit of control about how and when fruit is accessed, you may just find your little one having a nibble on that apple before you know it.