Picky Eaters: Getting Them to Like Fruit

My toddler refuses to eat any kind of fruit. She gets most of her vitamin C from juice (she drinks about eight ounces a day). Is she missing out on important nutrients? How can I get her interested in eating fruit?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

It's not too often that I hear of kids not liking fruit. Besides vitamin C, there are lots of other important vitamins, minerals and fiber in fruit that are important for your child's diet. However, keep in mind that vegetables provide the same nutrients as fruit. If she eats vegetables, there are all kinds you can serve her to balance out her diet.

Vegetables that are high in vitamin C include broccoli, spinach, green peppers, sweet red peppers and tomatoes. If she's eating any of these, cut back her juice consumption to four ounces a day and depend on the vegetables for the rest. Sweet red peppers are one of the best vegetable sources of vitamin C, plus they have a flavor most kids love. You can encourage your daughter to eat them by providing something to dip them in. Kids love to dip! Try some ranch dressing, a combination of yogurt and peanut butter, or some guacamole.

To make fruit more appealing, try serving it in fun ways. For example, make a face out of fruit on a plate with a banana strip for a smile, some grape eyes and a strawberry nose. You can invite your child to make it with you and then challenge her to eat it one feature at a time. Make a boat out of a melon wedge and put strawberry "people" in it.

You can also dip fruit. Try a mixture of 1/2 cup light cream cheese, 1 jar of fruit puree and 1 teaspoon honey. Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature, then whisk all the ingredients together. Serve as a dip for fresh apple slices, orange sections, banana wheels, kiwi slices and strawberries. It also makes a good spread for bagels when chilled and firm. You can sneak fruit into pancakes, muffins or yogurt shakes as well. To make a shake, mix milk, frozen vanilla yogurt, fresh peach slices, a little orange juice and some ripe banana in a blender. Or try a fresh, chilled fruit soup.

There are plenty of cookbooks with great recipes that include fruit. Visit your local bookstore or baby store. In The Baby Cookbook by Karin Knight, there are recipes for Raspberry Tofu Smoothie, Strawberry Heaven, Papaya Shake and Tropical Cooler -- which all sound good enough to entice any reluctant fruit eater!

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