Dawn-Marie Potter

Home schooling mother of 3 amazing children, life coach/public speaker specializing in positive parenting of special needs children.

MP900438787 300x200 Increase Children’s Fruits and Vegetables IntakeWe all know that our children are supposed to eat a well-balanced diet. We are all aware of our national food guides such as the Canada Food Guide (depending on your country of residence yours might be different) No matter what nation’s official food guide you follow, they all say the same thing about fruits and vegetables: That they are healthy and that multiple servings of different colors should be consumed every day. There are numerous studies out there that state the same thing. But what happens when you have more than just a picky eater?


What happens when you have a child with sensory issues or any number of real issues that prevent your best attempts at getting them to eat various fruits and vegetables every day?


Juice and Smoothies:

Juice should not be overlooked as a wonderful way to help your child get the proper nutrients they need from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Now I’m not writing of pre-made juice that can and often is filled with various other things such as sugar, water, flavoring and even oil. Yes I’m serious about oil, there is a link at the bottom to Sunny D’s page where you can see that they use canola oil in their juice.

When I speak of juice I mean the kind you make yourself in a juicer. I know that there is the initial cost of between $50-$200 for a juicer depending on where you shop however that initial cost is recouped financially just through fruits and vegetables that are no longer wasted and refused. Of course there is the main reason for a juicer being well worth the initial investment; your child’s health!  There are many different recipes out there that can be customized by you to your child’s personal taste preferences with “hidden” juices within it to give them more varied nutrition.

Smoothies are wonderful if your child is okay with a thicker textured drink. They can be store-bought in a decent variety of flavors or you can make your own with just a blender at home. With store-bought you are limited to specific flavors and sometimes additives or preservatives, but they are ready whenever they are wanted/needed. With homemade there are many more flavor combinations which means you can customize them more towards your specific child, (and things like probiotic powders can be added without effecting the taste, should that be something you and your child’s healthcare team feel is best for your child) However they are not ready on demand, but if frozen pre-sliced fruits are bought they take approximately 5 minutes from start to finish to make.


Change the texture:

For some children it is not about the taste itself of the different fruits and vegetables, it is actually about the textures they are presented in. For some children with sensory issues they physically cannot handle either the feel in their hands or in their mouth of certain textures.

For some children pureed fruit such as applesauce is fantastic. If that is the case with yours, various pureed fruits can be bought which offer the benefit of no preparation. However, you are limited to which fruits are given to that which can be found in “snack cups” unless you chose to shop in the baby food section (something I know a few mothers that have done to be able to provide a wider variety of pureed fruits to their children.)

There are also many online recipes for making your own that are not difficult, in all they take about 45 minutes to make and a large batch can be made in that time frame. With making your own you are not limited to flavors and small amounts of vegetables can be successfully added to “sweeter” fruits such as strawberries without changing the taste.

Dehydrated fruits can be a wonderful choice for children who prefer a drier, chewy texture (like Fruit Roll Ups) There are many bulk food stores that sell a wide variety of already dehydrated fruits or you can make your own with a food dehydrator. A basic dehydrator will usually cost in the range of $25-$100, depending on where you shop. With a dehydrator one can either slice up fruits and vegetables that their child finds appealing taste wise (but not texture wise) and lay them on parchment paper (sold at most grocery stores) in the dehydrator or a puree can be made and spread thinly on the parchment paper and a homemade fruit roll up type of snack can be made. Again there are many recipes online if that is the route you chose to take.

If a child prefers crunchy and wet at the same time, fruit or vegetable slices with dip can be a great option. Store bought dips come in a variety of flavors, additionally there is a link at the bottom of this article for a homemade chocolate hummus that my children love with fruit slices. (It’s actually the only way they will eat fruit slices.)



Small amounts of grated vegetables such as carrots (if your child is okay with the bits of color they would add) or zucchini can be added to a breading mixture before coating foods with it.

With a batter coating, one must puree the vegetables and then add to the recipe for that batter, keeping in mind that pureed vegetables will decrease the amount of additional liquids needed for each recipe.

Visually Appealing:

Some children are extremely visual and it may be that the fruits and vegetables will be eaten when the presentation of them is aesthetically appealing. Faces, cars, rows or lines, vehicles, flowers, rainbows, there are a plethora of options! When I need inspiration for this I simply do a Google image search for “fun foods for kids”

Each of the above suggestions have been tried out in our home with our children as both my sons are on the Autism Spectrum and both are very self-limited in their diets. Each has had its own level of success/failure, depending on the child and the method. Which of course is true for any method with any child as each one is unique. So I encourage you to try out different ones with your child and please share which ones worked best with yours!

Sunny D’s page:


Chocolate Hummus Recipe:


If your child has a dietitian already, consult with them first before making changes to your child’s diet. As with anything do to with your child’s health consult your child’s physician before making major changes to their diet. The above are meant as suggestions to be discussed with your child’s health care professionals.

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