The spring and summer seasons give us so many wonderful fresh foods to enjoy. With such a variety of colors and flavors, it’s a great time to help your littles learn about fruits and vegetables. It’s a good time to try some new ones too! You can have lots of fun with fruits and vegetables!
Start with your favorites
You can begin your learning fun with your kids’ favorite fruits and veggies. In the Signing Time Dictionary, we have several signs for fruits and vegetables, like apple, banana, carrot, grapes, lettuce, orange, peach, pear, and peas. Have your kids learn the signs for their favorites. And of course, we can learn the sign for fruit.
Know the benefits
We all know we’re supposed to eat fruits and vegetables because they’re good for us. But do we know why they’re good for us? The short version is that they are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. And these good things build up our cellular systems, improving our general health and helping us fight disease. This means that they really help our kids develop and grow in a healthy way. Studies show that the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can prevent chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease. And the high fiber content helps in digestion, which influences many of our body’s systems.
Change it up!
While it is great for our kids to have favorite fruits or vegetables, it’s important for us to get a variety. I have a child who is happy to eat most vegetables, but not so thrilled about fruit. Another one of my kids loves fruit and doesn’t like vegetables much. Neither of these is fully nutritious, because a balance is necessary for health. Similarly, if your child eats only one type of fruit, he is missing out on the nutrients offered in other types of fruit.
So, it’s important for us to help our kids (and ourselves) eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. You can use the idea of eating the rainbow to help with this. It’s a very visual way to have fun eating fruits and vegetables. In Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, Episode 6, Happy, Healthy Me we have a great song about this, “I Can Eat a Rainbow.” This episode also talks about the reasons eating fruits and vegetables is so good for us.
What if they don’t want to?
Some of our little ones are really resistant to eating fruits and veggies. And it’s likely that you’ve tried many different things to help them. The key piece of advice from all the experts is to keep trying. Keep offering fruits and veggies to your child, request that they try just a bite or two, and stick with it. The other big factor is our example as parents.
Sometimes, changing the way something is served can help. Try slicing your vegetables instead of serving them in sticks, or serve them in sticks instead of slicing them. You could cut them into fun shapes too. Arrange fruits or vegetables on a plate in fun colorful shapes. Add a dip on the side. SuperHealthyKids.com has ideas with a spring theme you can try to make fruits and veggies fun! One of my favorites is this octopus in a sea of hummus.
Serving vegetables with a dip can help kids too. Season cooked vegetables with butter and salt, or with another yummy sauce. Try adding dried cranberries or another fruit to salads, and try different dressings to figure out one that your child likes. Many kids will love dipping into hummus, which is also nutritious and healthy.
Finally, there is always the hide-the-veggie plan. However, once your child eats the food and enjoys it, be sure to let them know what it is that they enjoyed so much. This helps them understand that they can enjoy vegetables.
Again, if you’re having difficulty, the key is to keep trying and to be a good example.
So, during this season of fresh produce and growth, let’s help our kids have fun with fruits and vegetables! And let’s see if we can grow in this good habit ourselves!