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How to Introduce an Orange to your Toddler

Oranges have powerful antioxidants that can ward off illness and keep your family healthy this winter. Have you tried offering oranges to your child and they refuse to eat it? This may be due to the type of orange that you used. As an example, you may have chosen an orange that is too tart. Or, it may have been an orange that is too “juicy,” and your child’s oral motor skills may not be advanced enough to handle the multiple textures. Selecting the right type of orange is very important, and navel, Valencia and blood oranges are my three favorites to introduce to kids. See below for some additional tips.

Peeling: Regardless of the orange you present, consider peeling the orange or teaching your kid how to peel without squirting the oils of the orange into their eyes. I’ve had a several kiddos refuse to eat an orange after being sprayed in the face!

Navel Orange: The name and shape of the navel orange is so fun! When I teach children about this orange in feeding therapy I like to show off the “belly button” of the orange (it’s the cutest little navel!). Kids love that it has a belly button, and they usually start showing off their belly button too, which of course leads to tickling, laughter and then eating!

Expert Tip: The taste of a navel orange is sweet, and it’s a great first orange to try (and peel!).

Valencia Orange: This orange is typically what parents offer to their kids for the first time. In my experience, it’s also the orange that causes kiddos with motor feeding challenges to choke on (and then refuse to eat any citrus). The Valencia orange is very juicy, and for kids who have difficulties with multiple textures, this orange is challenging because of the over abundance of juice, pulp and skin. So, to avoid choking and gagging, I start these children with a navel orange. Or, I slice it with some of the outside skin still on so kids can hold on to the edge and use their teeth to pull out the juicy goodness.

Expert Tip: The taste of a Valencia orange is sweet, and because of its plentiful juice, it’s perfect for teaching kids how to squeeze and make their own orange juice.

Blood Orange: When I introduce this orange to my boys in feeding therapy they love the fact that the word blood is in the name. They usually think it’s the coolest fruit to eat and enjoy showing off its bloody juices! But with my female clients, they are a bit more squeamish about the name and may refuse to try it. So, with them, I’ve had more success calling it the red orange. Then, after she learns to eat and enjoy it, I reintroduce the orange with the appropriate name. I think this is important because I strongly believe that accurate food education will equip our children with the life long skill of being an adventurous eater!

Expert Tip: The taste of a blood orange is sweet and its juice is red, which makes this fruit perfect to spice up desserts, salads, juices and smoothies.

We hope these tips will help you pick the right orange for your child and to introduce it in a variety of ways! What are some ways you add oranges to your child’s mealtime? What is your toddlers favorite type of orange and how do you serve it? #ezpzfun #orange #toddler

Happy Feeding,

Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz



Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz

Dawn Winkelmann, a.k.a “Ms. Dawn”, has treated thousands of kids across the globe by helping families overcome picky eating stages and food refusals, while adding new foods into their diet. Her high success rate is attributed to Ms. Dawn bringing her education, experience, sense of humor and her favorite feeding products to the family dinner table.

You will find Ms. Dawn’s expert feeding advice to be positive and fun for the entire family! She adapts complicated feeding/swallowing research and makes it practical and easy for parents! Get ready to learn the science behind your favorite feeding products and ways to bring happy family mealtimes back!


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