Many of you ask for information about building smoothies for toddlers, older kids, and picky eaters. Questions like, “Are smoothies good for toddlers?”, “Can smoothies replace meals for picky eaters?”, “What to add to a smoothie to make it healthier?”, and more are in my Dms on a regular basis.
In this post, I will be answering all these questions. We have used smoothies as a nutrient-dense add-in to our family diet for years now and along the way I have picked up quite a few tricks and ways to build healthy smoothies for kids every time. Let us get started.
HOW TO BUILD THE PERFECT SMOOTHIE FOR KIDS
Let’s look at the core ingredients that go into a healthy smoothie for kids.
You can use almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or organic cow milk.
When using plant milk, check for the quality of ingredients used, no extra added sugars or other unnecessary additives. For this reason, I usually prefer homemade almond milk or coconut milk. You don’t want the plant milk you choose to end up being almost all water and no real other nutrients in it.
Fortified soy milk is also a great choice in smoothies for picky eaters and toddlers. I personally prefer the taste of plant-based milk in smoothies but you can add cow’s milk or yogurt too to bump up calories and nutrients.
Related reading : Calcium rich foods for kids.
Fruits like berries, mango, pineapple, and banana are all great options for natural sweetness and extra nutrients.
3. Healthy fats
To boost the nutrition content of the smoothie, especially when using store-bought plant milk, add avocado, roasted cashews, almonds, walnuts, seeds, and nut butter. The choice is yours here, but definitely add some nuts, nut powder or nut butter to increase the nutrition in the smoothie.
Learn here how to make a iron rich nut powder at home for babies and toddlers.
And here is my recipe for homemade almond butter for kids.
4. Extra add-ins
When your toddler has skipped a meal and you are looking to make the smoothie more like a filling meal you can add a handful of oats or Greek yogurt for satiety.
Green smoothies are a great way to get picky toddlers to eat some veggies too. Our favorite green smoothie for toddlers includes mango, banana, and spinach. Recipe below.
A cautionary word though, this should not be the only way they eat their vegetables. Create exposure to vegetables in different food preparations so the child can figure out a way to enjoy them over time.
Depending on the sweetness of the fruit used, I sometimes add a teaspoon of honey. If the fruit is naturally very sweet, avoid adding any extra sugars.
1. Use smoothies as a snack in moderation. Maybe 2-3 times a week.
2. Use as a way to add extra healthy fats like nut butter, nuts, and seeds as children need healthy fats for their growing brains.
3. On days the child is not eating due to teething or other illness a smoothie can help stay hydrated and provide important nutrients in an easy to digest form.
1. Do not overdo smoothies. Smoothies should not replace meals in the daily diet. Only use as an occasional snack option.
2. It is advisable to start smoothies once the child has established a good feeding routine and eating a good amount of solids. Usually, this happens around the time an infant is 14-15 months old.
The focus should be first on learning to eat wholesome family foods. Since smoothies are sweet they can be quite appealing to a toddler and are okay as long as the toddler is eating a balanced diet of Whole Foods and not just liquids.
3. Once again, try and sweeten using natural fruit sugars avoiding too much honey or other added sugar. We don’t want a healthy snack to turn into a sugary sweet.
To understand why it is important to limit added sugars in your child’s diet read this post of mine.
Some commonly asked questions about smoothies for toddlers and older kids.
ARE SMOOTHIES GOOD FOR TODDLERS?
Of course, smoothies are a great addition to a toddlers diet. They can be the vehicle that carries nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and healthy fats.
Here are some high protein smoothie recipes for kids.
CAN A SMOOTHIE REPLACE A MEAL FOR A TODDLER?
It is okay to use a meal replacement smoothie once in a while in scenarios when the child is sick, teething, or when in a rush. But ideally, try to avoid making liquid calories the main meal for children on a regular basis since they fill up those little stomachs quickly and don’t provide any texture exposure in the early years when it is crucial for children to learn to eat foods with varied textures.
WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST THING TO PUT IN A SMOOTHIE?
Always look for nutrient-dense adds like yogurt, vegetables, colorful fruits, nuts, and seeds. I also like to add superfoods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, and roasted flax seed powder for more benefit.
CAN TODDLERS HAVE SMOOTHIES EVERY DAY?
Even if your toddler enjoys smoothies as a snack maybe limit it to 2-3 times a week so that the child has continued exposure to trying other foods too.
HOW TO MAKE SMOOTHIES AT HOME FOR BABIES?
Ideally, we don’t want to be giving babies liquid calories as it has the chance of filling them up quickly and therefore not meeting the days nutrient requirements in a balanced way. But once in a while, you can make a simple banana smoothie for babies that is easy to digest. Offer no more than 50 ml as a snack.
I hope these tips help you when you build your next toddler smoothie.
Comment below and let me know your favorite smoothie flavor combinations. I’ve added the recipe for a kid-friendly smoothie with spinach down below. For more healthy smoothies for toddlers and kids check out my ebook The Easy Toddler Snack Book.
Mango Spinach Smoothie For Kids
- 150 ml coconut milk or any milk of your choice
- 1 large mango
- 1 banana
- handful spinach leaves
- 1 tsp flaxseed powder
- 1 tsp honey
- Add all the ingredients to the blender.
- Blend until desired smoothie-like consistency is achieved.
- Serve chilled
A mango spinach smoothie like this one can help on low apetite days or work as a fiber rich snack to relieve constipation in children.
There you go,
You now have all the tips you need to build a healthy smoothie for kids at home.
Let me know how it goes.
Until next time!