How To Introduce Smoothies To Toddlers (+Healthy Toddler Smoothies)
Smoothies are a great way to get a lot of nutrients into your babies and toddlers. However, where to start can be overwhelming. Learn the best tips on how to introduce smoothies to toddlers safely, as well as how to build healthy smoothies without a recipe, and grab some super healthy toddler smoothie recipes.
Benefits Of Smoothies For Toddlers
My girls and I share a healthy smoothie almost every single day... and have since they were about 7 months old! Mainly because smoothies:
- are an easy way to hide nutrients so that you're kids eat them
- make it easy to introduce new flavors to babies
- can be a great portable, on the go snack
- keep babies and toddlers full
- can be a really fun way to get toddlers in the kitchen!
However, there are a lot of ways to go about making a healthy smoothie (learn the best tips on creating smoothies here). Thus, knowing how to introduce smoothies to toddlers and babies is important.
What To Consider When Figuring Out How To Introduce Smoothies To Babies)
I'm first going to touch on the protocols I used when introducing smoothies to my baby. This tends to be a bit more complex and there are lots that you don't want to overlook!
You'll want to consider:
- have they previously had all of the ingredients in the smoothie
- how they'll be drinking the smoothie (many babes don't learn to use a straw until closer to 10 months).
- their taste buds and how you'll be forming them
These points are crucial when it comes to how to introduce smoothies to babies. Healthy smoothies are an amazing way to get nutrients into young kids but you do need to be practical.
Has The Babe Been Introduced To All The Ingredients
This is important for toddlers but more so with babies as you want to consider allergies. Smoothies are not the time to be introducing four new food items to your baby.
Before making a smoothie, make sure your baby ingested all of the ingredients so you can rule out any allergies.
Meaning, don't use almond milk if they haven't had almonds.
Personally, we used the wrist test for any major allergen testing (rub the food on the wrist before ingesting to see if there's a reaction).
Since smoothies tend to be a variety of foods, it may not be practical to ensure the babe has had all of them. At the very least, make sure there is only one new food in there. This way, if a reaction happens you'll know the cause.
But don't just smush 10+ ingredients into a smoothie for your baby when you're learning to eat. Even if the ingredients are healthy.
How To Introduce Smoothies To Toddlers (and still babies)
If going at this from a baby perspective, once you know the ingredients are safe there's still a lot to do. First and foremost, you'll want to consider how to give your toddlers a smoothie.
Having the smoothie in a open cup is a recipe for a huge mess (said from experience). With my first babe, I used a mom hack in which I just cut the tip off of a sippy cup and she used that. It worked not bad but now I know there are better options.
For my second daughter, she learned to use a straw by eight months old. For her, we used silicone cup covers and silicone straws for her smoothies. My one tip with this system is to ensure the straws are very wide. Young kids just don't have the power to suck a thick smoothie through a small straw!
However, it wasn't until years later that I found the perfect toddler smoothie solution: squeeze pouches! These reusable smoothie pouches are a savior for smoothies.
How To Make Smoothies For Toddlers
One of the biggest pet peeves I have when it comes to seeing smoothies on the internet for kids is that they're made with 3-4 servings of fruit... only. The problem with this is that you're setting your kids up for a very sweet palate.
Think about it, if you eat a bowl of strawberries, do you really want to eat broccoli afterward? I didn't think so.
I truly believe that taste buds form the most before the age of three. So, when it comes to how to make smoothies for toddlers you want to make sure that there's fruit but that the smoothies are not overly sweet.
Plus, rely on just fruit in a smoothie is a sure-fire way to give kids a sugar crash early on. Kids need balanced meals. Meaning, smoothies should include:
- fruit for flavor
- a healthy fat (think avocado, nut butter, chia seeds etc)
- a veggie if you can sneak one in
- a protein source sometimes (more on this below)
It's easy to make a smoothie with a bunch of fruit and fruit juices blended together. However, you won't be doing anyone any good. Focus on real, healthy food and balance (no fruit juices!).
Adding Protein To Toddler Smoothies
First of all, while kids do need protein, they don't need it in mass amounts. Protein takes longer to digest so the last thing you want to do is back up your babe with too much!
Toddler smoothies need balance and that means a stabilizer. This can be a protein (plant-based or otherwise) or healthy fat. Both will help slow the release of sugars and keep them full longer.
Yogurt, cottage cheese, bone broth powder are all amazing sources of protein. I personally use a lot of collagen in my toddler (not baby!) smoothies.
Collagen is a beneficial part of bone broth and wonderful for your hair, skin, and nails. Learn more about collagen and why you may want to boost your intake. However, unlike bone broth, it doesn’t taste like well, bone broth.
Similarly, collagen powder is odorless and flavorless. Plus, if ethically sourced one of the purest forms of protein you can give to your kids! I grab my collagen from Perfect Supplements and while I love their big tub of powder, I love the individual packets even more!
Grab some collagen powder and use code mamabear10 to save some money.
Once my girls got older (around two years old) I did start making protein smoothies with them. I think so long as you choose a clean protein powder it's not the worst thing to give to kids. That said, that is a very personal decision and again, make sure it's a very minimalistic protein powder!
The best way to start balancing out the nutrients in smoothies for toddlers is with plant-based proteins. Nuts and seeds have a lot of good protein in them which is perfect for toddlers. Plus, these items are loaded in healthy fats which are great for brain development.
Lastly, focusing on nuts and seeds makes the smoothies very calorie-dense which is a good thing when it comes to toddler smoothies. My girls were hard gainers so this was important.
Liquid For Toddler Smoothies
I introduced baby bear to nuts pretty early on (five or six months) by testing them on her wrist. Once I felt comfortable knowing she didn't have an allergy I opted to use a lot of nut milk, oat milk, or coconut milk in our smoothies.
Coconut milk is another great source of fat, keeps the smoothie creamy and tastes delicious- again, calories. My girls didn't get a lot of cow milk so these were our alternatives.
Another great option is coconut water. Coconut water is extremely hydrating and perfect for toddler smoothies. Do your due diligence though and double check the brand you buy to make sure they don't add sugar!
Awesome Toddler Smoothie Ingredients
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 healthy smoothie 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)
- Spinach (frozen spinach blends better)
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Coconut water
- Hemp hearts
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
- Nut butter
- Chia seed
- Bone broth powder
Like I mentioned, I personally preferred to keep fruit to a minimum (normally half a banana and some berries or ½ -¾ cup mango or apple) and instead strived to keep nutrient-dense items like veggies and fats high.
Don't forget to pin these awesome tips!
Tasty Toddler Smoothies
To be honest, I rarely followed a recipe when it came to smoothies for kids. However, if you're just starting out that's definitely the way to go! Below are a few of our favorite toddler smoothies to give you some inspiration
- Strawberry yogurt smoothie
- Simply green smoothie
- Zucchini bread smoothie (I always add flax/chia/nuts to this one)
- Creamsicle smoothie
- Chocolate superfood smoothie
- Strawberry Pineapple
- Orange turmeric smoothie
- Carrot sunrise smoothie
If you're looking to boost your toddler's nutrition, smoothies are the easiest way possible. They're simple, quick, and portable. Plus, they allow you to get more nutrients into your kids than they'll have a chance to eat! Learning how to introduce smoothies to toddlers can be a game-changer when it comes to their nutrition!