Fruit is the perfect healthy snack for your child, right? Is it possible for your toddler to have too much fruit? Nutritionist Emma Sutherland investigates.
Can your toddler have too much fruit?
When offering fruit to your toddler, follow the serving guidelines below because it's possible for your toddler to have too much. The reasons to be mindful of how much they eat include the following factors:
- Some fruits contain a high amount of natural sugar, which means more calories. Loading up on high-sugar fruits such as cherries, bananas and grapes along with kiwifruit, apples and berries may not be advised.
- Children may miss out getting enough healthy fats and protein if they fill up on too much fruit.
- Fruit juice does not equate to a serve of fruit as it contains a lot of sugar without the beneficial fibre. Processed fruits or juices are not good alternatives as they don’t give the same nutritional value and may contribute to tooth decay.
Nutrition Australia recommends that children aged two to three years they should have at least 1 serve of fruit, from four to eight they should have at least 1½-2 serves, and from nine years onwards they should be eating 2 serves a day.
How much is a serve of fruit?
One serving of fruit for a child is approximately half an adult’s serve or:
- half a medium piece of whole fruit such as apple, banana, orange or pear
- one piece of small fruit such as an apricot or plum
- one tablespoon of dried fruit*
- 1/2 cup of canned fruit
However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 50% of children aged between five and seven ate two serves of fruit per day while younger children, aged between two and three, almost always met the recommended level of fruit intake.
3 reasons whole fruit is good for you
- Fruit is packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants that assist normal growth and development
- Whole fruits have a far greater nutritional value compared to fruit bars, cups, juices or purées
- It is ‘nature’s fast food – an easy, portable snack.
Of course, while too much can have a negative impact on your child's overall nutritional intake, fruit is an important part of their daily diet.
Tips for serving fruit to toddlers:
- Ensure your toddler enjoys at least one serve of fresh fruit daily (where possible). Dried fruit is also an option and handy to keep in your bag as an emergency snack.
- Offer a variety of fruit and aim for those that are in season so they benefit from the different nutrients and vitamins.
- Serve fruit with something else eg. yoghurt, cheese or dip
- Cut up fruit into bite-sized pieces and make an attractive fruit salad (you can make faces or animals to entice them.
- Add fruit to smoothies or shakes along with milk or yoghurt
- Make sure your child is active and provide plenty of opportunity for them to burn off the natural sugars found in fruit.
- Practise what you preach. Make sure your child sees you eating plenty of fruit too.
Your little one will love this cute Fruity Octopus.