Introducing Smoothies To Babies & Toddlers
Since I like to go about this parenting gig different than most, when it was time for baby bear to start trying solids my husband and I went with a combination of pureed foods and baby led weaning (you can read about it here and here). While we definitely fell more into the baby led weaning category, one thing baby bear got from the start was healthy smoothies.
It’s no secret that I LOVE smoothies. Really and truly they are easily my go-to source of nutrients. Smoothies are quick, easy, portable and easy to customize. But most importantly, they’re an insanely easy way to sneak extra nutrients into yours, or your infants, diet.
That said, there’s a lot of ways to go about making smoothies and often I find people rely too much on fruit. Don’t get me wrong, fruit is great! I would probably eat fruit all day if I could. But when it comes to infants, teaching them to love a super sweet flavor right off the bat was something I was a bit adverse to.
I personally think that as parents we have SO much control over our kids taste buds early on that I stayed away from giving baby bear anything too sweet. I wanted her to experience other flavor profiles in order to be a more well rounded eater. After all, if you ate a banana and then were asked to munch on some broccoli, I’m pretty sure you’d chose the banana over and over because it’s sweeter. Basically, sugar addiction starts at a pretty young age.
So when it came to making smoothies for baby bear in those first few months (okay, like a year haha) I had two main goals:
- Not too sweet- meaning the shake couldn’t be purely fruit based
- Get as many additional nutrients into the smoothie as possible
My main priority was nutrients- you can cram a lot of great ingredients into smoothies (check out how to build a better green shake here), which is exactly what I did. I aimed to create a balance of vegetables, healthy fats, protein and fruits.
Most moms ask specifically about protein powder when it comes to introducing smoothies and truthfully there’s a few things to note:
Make sure your baby tolerates proteins well! Because protein takes a lot to digest you want to ensure that they’re not getting backed up poop wise. If they are, cut back on the protein powder or eliminate. There are lots of natural sources to get protein from.
Also, make sure you have a quality protein powder. Regular whey can be a big bombardment on a little ones system, not to mention some protein powders come with less than ideal ingredients (a lot of additives).
What I Did
For the first couple of months (probably two months) I stuck to protein powder free smoothies. Part of the reason for this was that baby bear was on formula bottles by then and I didn’t think she needed another crazy hit of whey protein.
The other reason was because I wanted to focus on getting a lot of healthy fats into her and making the shakes as calorie dense as possible. She was a slow gainer so calorie hits and optimal nutrients were my focus.
Instead of using protein powder, I used a lot nuts and seeds.
I introduced baby bear to nuts pretty early on (five or six months) by testing them on her wrist (check that out here). Once I felt comfortable knowing she didn’t have an allergy I opted to use a lot of nut butters (almond and cashew) in her smoothies to boost the fat intake.
I also opted for coconut or almond milk as the liquid. Coconut milk is another great source of fat, keeps the smoothie creamy and tastes delicious- again, calories. Again, she was getting enough (too much in my opinion) milk based protein so cows milk was something I wanted to eliminate.
When I finally did introduce protein powder to baby bear (about seven months) she had it every so often. We normally shared a green smoothie each day together but only 1/3 had protein powder.
I also switched to a better quality powder. I personally love whey proteins as they’re super tasty, sweet, they blend well and they’re cheap. However, I didn’t want her to increase her supply of whey protein nor did I want her to adjust to a super sweet flavor.
So instead, I made the switch to plant based protein powders. Normally vega or progressive as they come with nutrient boosts. Plant based protein powders taste much different than whey based but they’re so much better for little ones health wise.
So what was in our smoothies? Below is a list of our most common smoothie ingredients. Each smoothie would depend on what I had on hand and what I threw into the blender. We had some super fun concoctions and to this day we still share a green shake each and every day (which she naturally adores!) 🙂
Common Smoothie Ingredients
- Frozen banana (keeps the smoothie creamy and sweet)
- Frozen berries
- Mango (makes the smoothie creamy)
- Dried figs (a great sweetener)
- Dates (a great sweetener)
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Coconut water
- Hemp hearts
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
- Nut butters
- Chia seed
- Protein powder
Like I mentioned, I personally preferred to keep fruit to a minimum (normally half a banana and some berries or 1/2 -3/4 cup mango or apple) and instead strived to keep leafy greens high.
Don’t forget to pin these awesome tips!
If you’re looking to boost your babes nutrition, smoothies are the easiest way possible. They’re simple, quick and portable. But best of all is that they allow you to get more nutrients into your kids than they’ll have a chance to eat. We rock a green smoothie every day and I love it.
How about you, are you a green shake lover?
Looking for more healthy eating tips for kids? Check out 15 Toddler Friendly Snacks and 9 Meals My Daughter Eats Regularly.