How to…help your child eat five a day


We all know that we should eat our five a day.

fruit kebabs2That is, five appropriately sized portions of fruit and vegetables. They boost our vitamin and mineral intake and help with healthy gut function. Easy when it’s written down on paper, but not so easy when it’s a child that doesn’t like fruit.

Now, I know I’m one of the lucky mums. I’ve never had to really make an effort to get Little  Chap to eat fruit. He always had a sweet tooth, nurtured no doubt by the organic vegetable purees he was weaned onto and the inevitable fruit purees (unsweetened of course!) that followed. Often, he’ll struggle to eat his main course and then try to eat his own body weight in something sweeter for dessert. When I’m Head Chef, it’s most usually unsweetened yoghurt, custard or rice pudding accompanied by a dollop of fruit, or unsweetened fruit puree, though his objective is to try to obtain the exact opposite! Now, he’s a “big boy” in the Pre-Prep, he comes home raving about school dinners. Not like me when I was at school …

“Mummy, we had over-cooked watery cabbage again. Please can I have packed lunches next term?!”
 

Oh no, Little Chap raves in detail about the glorious main courses and better still, the various “cakes” (read: various fruit and sponge puddings) he gets for afters! Thing is, it seems to be doing the trick, because in order to get to eat his crumbles, pies and puds, he seems to be wolfing down the main course first, which is more important to me.

So back to my point. Which is that if you are one of those mums struggling to find ways to make fruit more exciting for your less than interested offspring, you might well be seeking answers to the question: “How do I get them to eat more fruit?”

All the experts tell us that if a child doesn’t want to do something you tell them to, the easiest way to overcome their unwillingness, is to make it into a game. Make it fun. So you may be interested to read on about how to make fruit kebabs with them. This is a simple, inexpensive activity or “game” to play with your child that might just fill them with curiosity or tantalise their taste buds and help them on their way to a fabulous fruity five a day.

The other day Little Chap asked if he could make a fruit kebab. He’s been desperately sad that he can’t be in the Nursery again, now he is in Reception. Something which seems to have troubled him more since he had such a darned good time there and since he’s realised that his beloved nursery teachers now have a new crew of three year olds running rings around them on whom to dote in lieu of him and his now four year old buddies.

Making fruit kebabs was something his nursery teachers did with the boys one week, about this time last year. Their topic of the week was, not surprisingly Fruit (and yes, it was followed up by, you guessed it, Vegetables!). The teachers read Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Brown to the boys that week, a book whose amusing tale and beautiful bright images must have made some impression on Little Chap, as he pointed it out to me at the library quite some weeks later and he happily requested a range of his favourite fruits in his packed lunch from then on. He also liked to get quite cross with me once or twice when I didn’t have what he was thinking of in my fruit bowl that day…!

Fruit kebabs1So, as it was snack time when he asked me and I was thinking I had a few pieces of fresh fruit that needed eating, I agreed. He happily spent the next ten minutes or so choosing which grape, blueberry, apple chunk or satsuma segment to thread on to his skewer before he greedily pulled them right back off again and stuffed them into his mouth. Here’s how we did it.

You will need…

  • A wooden skewer for each child. I used some old wooden ones I had in the drawer. I guess a metal one would be ok too but supervision will be required with those sharp pointy bits, perfect for waving in the air, using as swords/arrows etc…
  • A selection of fresh fruit pieces (cut small enough if necessary). Try to include as many different colours and textures as possible to make it fun. We used green Granny Smith apple, orange satsuma segments, whole white and red grapes and blueberries but you could easily add in whatever you have to hand. You might also try:
    • lychees (fresh or canned – they all count)
    • orange segments (cut into smaller pieces first for little mouths)
    • kiwi fruit (sliced or cut into small chunks)
    • whole blackberries
    • whole raspberries
    • whole or halved strawberries, depending on their size and the age of your children
    • banana (sliced) – you want it ripe enough not to give your child a tummy ache but firm enough to hold its shape
    • peach, nectarine or pear slices (again cut into smaller mouthful sized chunks)
  • Protection for your child’s clothes. This will depend on their age. Little Chap managed to thread his skewer without getting any juice on his school uniform but to be fair, the fruit we used was not that juicy. You might want to put a bib or overalls on a younger child or just make do with a few baby wipes for sticky mouths and fingers after they’re done!

Younger children may need a little help threading the fruit onto the stick. Although Little Chap (not quite five) needed no help second time around (I can’t speak for the first I’m afraid!), he did encounter one or two blueberries and grapes that needed eating and replacing because they split on threading due to their size being a little too small. He soon learned that to achieve success, it was best to choose a larger chunk and thread it confidently through it’s middle.

Asking him what he liked best about it, it was clear that the process gave him a sense of achievement and pride. He wanted to make some for us to try too. He said the best bit was eating the fruit but that threading them on to the skewer was also pretty cool.

Do you have any tips for getting your child to eat five a day or try new fruits and vegetables? Do please leave a link to your post in a comment below.

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