“Mumma, this icecream has mango in it, ewww…”
“Oh no, Mumma, I won’t eat this cake, it tastes like apple”
“What Mumma, does this pancake have bananas?”
This is a regular story with me. My 2 year old girl recognizes the fruity ingredient that I hide in her favourites. I tried everything including interesting cutlery, making her watch her favourite shows, trips, etc. but was not able to make her eat fruit.
Then, my aunt asked me once, “Do you eat fruits?” I thought for a while and replied, “Sometimes.” And she retorted, “How will she learn to eat fruits when you do not inspire her!” She was cent percent right. I tried it and it worked somewhat. This is one of the ways to make her eat. Here are some of the others.
Not only different varieties of fruits are available, but also several forms. While fresh fruits are quite common, you can even try canned fruits, frozen ones, dry fruits or even dried fruits. Dry fruits include cashews, almonds, figs, pistachio, and others.
For kids, dry fruits are quite healthy as they stay active most of the time. Dry fruits could be given plain, roasted, salty and even sweet. I tried coating almonds in warm melted jaggery. While my daughter didn’t like it, another fussy kid enjoyed eating it. You can also try dried fruits. Herein fruits like kiwi, fresh apricots and other such varieties are first frozen and then vacuum dried.
2. Within Reach
I noticed that my two year old hunts for something to munch in the evening. She reaches out for peanuts that are stored in the jar, which she can reach easily. Some kids like to eat on their own and try things. If yours’ behaves in a similar fashion, dice some fruits and store in colorful jars. Place these jars strategically and let your kid come and open it. Do not interrupt kids when they eat something healthy. They might want to do something stealthily.
3. Pretend Play
If you want to make her eat orange, dress like an orange once. Pack up tiffin with peeled oranges. Involve her dolls in this. She might get tricked into eating oranges. Likewise, plan a picnic at a corner of your home. Carry fruits in baskets. Play a game and then begin eating. What I do is do not force her to eat. Instead I start eating and she follows suit.
4. Involve Them
Right from the time you purchase them to the time they are cut, involve your kids in every process. When they invest time and strength in something, kids love the end product. I ask my little one to choose the fruit at the store, wash it, refrigerate them and then, ask her to hand me over the knife and bowl. When I serve her the fruit, she recalls the entire process and tries it.
5. Presentation Matters
When I tried interesting cutlery as I mentioned above, she was not tricked. Instead, I bought some colorful wooden sticks online. I cut some assorted fruits in different shapes and made fruit kabobs. To add to the fun, I stuck little marshmallows on the top. She was elated. She reached out for a kabob. Even if she has a piece or two, I am contented. This is the way she might start eating fruits.
6. Do Not Hide
Instead of hiding fruits in cake, ice-creams and smoothies, you can top these foods with fresh fruits. They might like the change. They will not doubt you and hunt for the secret ingredients when they can see the fruits clearly as toppings.
7. Visit to the Orchard
A real picnic can make it work. Take your kids to mango orchards or strawberry farms or even grapevines. When they will see the fruits hanging from the trees or growing on the plants, they will find it interesting.
It is not necessary that you give only international fruits to your kids. Local produce is equally healthy. If possible, give your kids seasonal fruits. They are easily available at reasonable rates.
Also, make sure that you do not opt for sugary fruit drinks for your kids. Fresh fruit juices are always a better option. Even after trying all the above ways, if your kids still do not eat fruits, then let them be. My daughter eats fruits once in a while. I do not force her to eat but just hope that her choices change. I substitute fruits with other foods like fresh veggies, both raw and cooked. When it comes to food, nothing is compulsory. There are substitutes available, search for them or ask the nutrition experts.