Fruit Is Real Food

Although fruit is one of the major nutrition categories and a food group where children are less picky, there are some guidelines where we need to be aware. What do the experts suggest about offering children servings of fruit? Here’s a summery.

                                   FRUIT AND JUICE GUIDELINES

  • Before 6 months, most recommend no fruit or juice
  • From 6-12 months, up to 4 oz. juice, but only in a cup–no bottle. The logic here is that juice in a bottle increases the likelihood of tooth decay.
  • 1-6 years: up to 6 oz of juice or one to one and a half cups of fruit.
  • 7 and older: up to 12 oz of juice or one and a half cups of fruit

                                         POSSIBLE PROBLEMS

  • Juice with added sugar, juice drinks, juice flavored drinks, soda with juice sounding names like orange. Switch to 100% juice. Dilute with water if you’re concerned with calories.
  • Things that look like fruit, but are really “sugar” with a fruit taste. Pop tarts, prepackaged gelatin, jams and jellies, etc. are in this category.

                                    SOME FUN IDEAS TO TRY

  • Freeze 100% juice in Popsicle molds (or ice cube trays) for a cool summer treat.
  • Use non-flavored gelatin and 100% juice for desert. Gelatin can be put into various molds or gelled in a cake pan, and cut out into various shapes with a cookie cutter. Or, add fruit.
  • Cut apples into bite-sized slices and spread each slice with peanut-butter. (Check with your pediatrician about introducing peanut butter. The advice is mixed, with some experts saying any time after a year, while other experts suggest waiting until your child is three.)
  • Fruit, cut into chunks, is fun for children to thread onto skewers. Vary the type and the color, or add small chunks of cheese. Use small skewers an watch for the points (with some very active or young children, it’s a good idea to cut the point before they begin.)
  • Plan a “pick your own” excursion. In most parts of the country growers allow families to come in and pick during the harvest time. From strawberries in early summer to peaches in August to apples in the fall, picking is fun and the fruit always tastes better when it’s freshly picked.
  • Try planting. Some things, like fruit that grows on trees, may take too long to bear fruit, but strawberries can be grown in most places, even in a “pot” placed on a deck.

These ideas should be enough to get you “thinking.” Send us your ideas and experiences with your child and introducing fruit and we’ll add your “fun ideas” to our list.

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