Blueberries are labeled as a super food because they are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium, and they have countless health benefits for you and your child. The domestic blueberry season is from April to September, so parents have a great opportunity to serve this fresh fruit to their child six months out of the year! Here I discuss tips on how to introduce blueberries to your toddler in fresh, frozen, dried, freeze-dried and liquefied forms.
Blueberries for Babies & Toddlers: Most feeding therapists recommend waiting until six months of age to introduce blueberries into your baby's diet. If you want to make your own baby food, place fresh or frozen blueberries in a blender and then add breast milk, formula, stock or water until you reach a safe consistency for your baby. If you are offering blueberries as a finger food or first soft food, cut the blueberries into safe pieces and only give a few chopped pieces at a time to avoid overstuffing and choking. By their third birthday, toddlers generally have the oral and fine motor skills to eat whole blueberries.
Blueberries for Potty Training: When I taught potty training courses, I would encourage parents to serve blueberries to their toddler during the potty phase. I recommend blueberries because they are 80% water and packed with fiber, which makes them a good nutritional choice to assist with potty training. In addition, blueberries (like cranberries) can prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s), which will also aid in potty training success. Just another reason why blueberries are a good fruit choice for your toddler!
Blueberries for Meals & Snacks: Blueberries are perfect for a healthy on-the-go snack, as there is no peeling or pitting required! They can also be one of the main ingredients for mealtimes, too. Here are some great ways to introduce this beneficial berry to your children, even for the pickiest fruit eater.
- Breakfast: Blueberries are perfect in fruit salads, oatmeal, crepes, muffins, cold cereal, jams, pancakes, waffles and smoothies. Tip: place leftover smoothie into popsicle molds and freeze for a cool snack! Try making our quick blueberry Cookie Monster Breakfast here. Your kids will LOVE it!
- Lunch & Dinner: Blueberries are great in green salads, over chicken, and mashed with butter over salmon (trust me on this!).
- Desserts: Add blueberries to pies, cakes, sorbets, ice cream and yogurt popsicles.
- Drinks & Dressing: Use blueberries to make homemade juice and infused water. You can also make a sweet blueberry sauce or dressing to put over pancakes, ice cream or salads!
How to Choose & Introduce Blueberries: When picking out blueberries for children you want to look for a darker color, because they are generally sweeter in taste. In addition, the darker the color, the higher the antioxidant potential! So look for dark, firm, plump berries and avoid moldy, soft, withered or bruised ones. Keep blueberries in a single layer on a paper towel in the refrigerator until you plan on serving them. Fresh blueberries can go bad fast, so eat this yummy treat within 5 days of buying. Wash in slow running cold water with vegetable wash, drain and serve.
- Fresh: I use fresh blueberries for snacks and meals, but also in food feeders/strainers for babies first tastes. They also make eye-catching purees and fun fruit skewers.
- Frozen: Frozen blueberries are beneficial for families who want berries year round. They also cost less, come in large bags for convenience and are perfect for making a quick smoothie. I like to use frozen blueberries to help kids who are teething or have sensory feeding issues with fresh berries. My favorite blueberry treat is to heat frozen blueberries in the microwave with sugar and heavy whipping cream. Yum!
- Liquefied: Blueberries are delicious when juiced or put into smoothies. Pictured: blueberry smoothie in the Happy Bowl.
We hope you and your kids love all these healthy ideas! How do you prepare blueberries? Does your toddler like frozen blueberries? #ezpzfun #myezpzmat #blueberry
Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz