Smoothies for Toddlers: Nutrition vs. Development

a toddler girl drinks a berry smoothie

In two days, we will step outside of our house as a family for the first time since March 11th.

I plan to make some smoothies, contain the twins in the double stroller for a full 25 minutes, and walk to the park. 

If I can just find my keys. (Anyone know where I left my keys on March 11?!)

Okay let’s talk smoothies. 

Technically you can introduce smoothies into your child’s diet after their first birthday, though I generally suggest waiting much longer. Like until 15-18 months of age longer. Here’s why.

It takes time to transition from drinking your meals (from breast or bottle) to chewing and swallowing them. And all that chewing and swallowing is hard work! Most babies and young toddlers I know, if given the chance, will drink their meals before putting in the work to eat them. You *just* taught your baby to wean off drinking the majority of their calories—so we don’t want to slide back into that too soon.

The other issues with relying on smoothies too often is that they obscure the whole foods that are in them. Sure, it’s great from a nutrition standpoint if your baby is consuming a cup of raw kale in their morning smoothie. But does a green smoothie acclimate your babe to the taste and texture of raw kale? It reminds me of something one of our food therapists said: if you’re serving zucchini in the form of a zucchini muffin, that’s fine, but be aware that you’re teaching your child to eat muffins, not zucchini.

Having already unintentionally raised one very picky eater, I was cautious about introducing smoothies to Adie+Max. What I found worked well is that we limited smoothies to once a week: every Thursday we’d go for a stroll and get a kale-pineapple smoothie. And that limit—once a week—was as much for as me as it was for the twins. Because let’s be honest, handing over a smoothie and having a quiet child for 15 minutes is tempting to do every day!

And I’m pleased to report that at 2 years old this week—and entering into some pretty selective eating behaviors—both Adie+Max eat kale and pineapple, in whole and liquid form. 

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