30 Fruit snacks for fussy eaters
If I have one piece of advice for parents of fussy eaters that want to increase the amount of fruit their child eats, it would be to serve it more often. This is true even if you have a child that currently eats no fruit.
The second piece of advice would be to create interest and interaction around fruit.
Even if you have a child that willingly eats fruit, making it more interesting and fun is always valuable:
1. Change helps to prevent boredom
2. Serving foods differently scaffolds flexibility and confidence for our child
3. Interest is the first step to wanting to interact with a food
4. Introducing fun helps a child to relax around food and that is a key parameter in being able to eat more comfortably.
There are many different fruits and eating a wide variety is great. If you have a child that only eats one or two, increasing the range is a great goal. The first step may be different versions of the same fruit though.
Let’s look at some ideas.
*please note that not all ideas are suitable for all ages and stages. Please choose only those appropriate for your child.
Fruit snack ideas for fussy eaters
1. Fruit cut in different ways. Many picky eaters have a favourite way for something to be served. Perhaps it’s apples cut in half or oranges into quarters.
The first step for change maybe presenting the fruit differently. However, springing things on a child can be confronting so perhaps introducing gently is a good idea!
With an apple, for example, we can cut into halves, quarters, slices. We could dice or grate too.
2. Dried fruit. Dried fruit may be easier for some children as it doesn’t have the ‘wet’ texture of many fresh fruits. It’s also sweet but still packed with nutrients and fibre.
3. Tinned fruit. As it’s usually very soft I often think of canned fruit as being ‘pre-chewed’ like nuggets. It’s super easy to eat and requires little effort. Tinned fruit is a great option and a perfect addition to many dishes as well as great on its own.
During the winter when there is less variety, I often used tinned fruits.
4. Frozen fruit. Like canned fruit, frozen fruit can be handy in the winter for providing options that otherwise wouldn’t be available. Or, in the summer we can consciously freeze fruit.
Grapes and watermelon, for example, are perfect for freezing. Add a popsicle stick…
5. Puree. Many fussy eaters are okay with fruit out of a pouch, or the purees that are aimed at very young children. However, fruit purees can also be part of a gourmet meal, so that’s how I think of them.
Reframing can be a valuable exercise for parents. Instead of thinking ‘uh, my child only eats baby food jarred apple’ it’s important to recognize that they are eating fruit and that’s a positive.
For children who are not eating purees it can be a great way to change up fruit and serve as a fun snack, or dip.
6. Stewed fruit. Texturally this can be a challenge for some picky eaters. But it can also be easier to eat as, like canned fruit, it requires less chewing. I find it handy when some fruits are not available (supply of fresh fruit and veg is very seasonal in NZ).
My boys love stewed berries – perhaps with sweetener added – and some yoghurt, ice cream or cream.
7. Fried fruit. Sliced apples, peaches, or bananas, for example, sauteed in some butter and perhaps sweetener. Delicious. If we have a child that prefers crunchier textures we cook for less time. If they love soft fruit we fry for longer.
8. Fruit juice. I know this can be controversial, and fruit juice has become quite a contentious issue as it is very high in sugar. However, like most foods, it is all about balance and perspective.
If our child is not eating fruit yet or has a very limited few they are comfortable with, then using fruit juice can be a great way to introduce them gently to the idea and the flavour of fruit.
Drinks like Kiwi crush are also a great way to help with sluggish bowels
9. Fruit popsicles. We can freeze whole fruits together to make spectacular looking popsicles. Or, use fruit juice or fruit puree to make ones that are more subtle but still chock full of fruit.
10. Smoothies or shakes. Drinking is often easy for fussy eaters than eating, so using drinks to build comfort and acceptance of fruit can be an easier first step.
There are a million recipes to try!
11. Fruit salad. Mixing a few fruits in a bowl can look pretty and change up foods we often serve. Adding some fruit juice can make it into a treat or enable it to be kept for a while as it prevents browning.
12. Fruit fritters. Dipping fruit pieces then frying fruit in a batter can be an awesome way to serve that’s a little bit different. It may even make it easier for a fussy eater to have a taste.
13. Fruit jelly. Serving fruit in a jelly makes it portable. It is also a great way to deliver a nutrient boost if using a good quality gelatin.
14. Fruit gummies. Home-made gummies are super simple to make. Find the recipe here: https://theconfidenteater.com/blog/funfoodideasforfussyeaters/treat/home-made-gummies-nutrient-boost-recipe-for-fussy-eaters-and-picky-eaters/
15. Apple chips. Making dried apple chips is quite easy – if a little time-consuming – and makes for a different and portable snack.
16. Fruit ‘sandwiches’. Cutting slices of fruit and adding a favourite filling like peanut butter, jam or cream cheese and then putting a second slice on top can be a great way to make something a little different – and often more filling.
If we have a non-fruit eater who licks off the filling, that is still a plus.
17. Stuffed fruits. For example, dates stuffed with cheese, sliced bananas with a peanut butter filling or strawberries with cream cheese.
18. Fruit rings. Taking the core out of an apple and then slicing into rings is a different way to serve. You can add yoghurt or peanut butter or jam and then sprinkle with chopped dried fruit, choc chips or crushed nuts too.
19. Fruit pops or dippers. Cutting apples, bananas, or kiwifruit for example, into small pieces and placing on a stick. You can then have a selection of things to dip into. Anything from chocolate sauce to seeds to yoghurt or honey.
Or we can do fruit pieces on a fork or just use fingers to dunk into a favourite sauce or dip.
20. Fruit on skewers. Even though fruit on skewers is still fruit, it looks different, and it is amazing that even for adults it can encourage fruit eating. Alternatively, we can use a cocktail stick (or a child-friendly version) and combine fruit with other favourites like a cube of cheese.
21. Banana ‘ice cream’. A frozen banana whizzed in the food processor creates a very ice cream like result. We can go fancy and add cocoa for choc flavour or add things like strawberry puree or choc chips.
22. Fruit ‘nachos’. Thinly sliced fruit arranged on a plate and drizzled with sauce – like caramel. See recipe here: https://theconfidenteater.com/blog/funfoodideasforfussyeaters/apples/apple-nachos-with-caramel-sauce-fun-recipes-for-fussy-eaters-and-picky-eaters/ can create an awesome snack. Additions like crushed nuts or choc chips are optional.
23. Fruit pizza. In season, this can be a round of watermelon with other fruits cut to be ‘toppings’. Or it could be a sweet pastry base topped with optional red fruit puree and/or cream cheese/cream/yoghurt plus fruit, or just topped with fruit.
I know a family whose daughter’s favourite is jam and pineapple pieces on a regular base.
24. Fruit rainbows. Building part or all of a rainbow using different coloured fruits can be a great way to garner interest that supports eating.
25. Waffle iron fruit. Apples or pears, for example, sliced and buttered and then cooked in a waffle iron. It produces a great grilled pattern on the outside of the fruit.
26. Fruit balls. There are special scoops that enable us to create balls from the flesh of fruit like melon or papaya. It looks so cool and is an excellent way to turn something ordinary into something a little special.
27. Serving in different containers. For example, using an ice cream cone to hold fruit makes it that little bit extra special and even a bit treaty. Or it could be a fancy bowl or a truck or a mini basket.
28. Fruit hedgehogs. I know these are totally 1970’s but still they look amazing. Using a fruit like half an orange that we push little sticks into with other fruits skewered. The effect is like a hedgehog or porcupine.
29. Fruit art. There are lots of ideas for fun ways to serve fruit. Some are great for children to create on their own and some perfect for us to do. For example, racing cars made from a quarter of an apple with cocktail sticks for axles and grapes for wheels.
Or half a green apple with green grapes to create a turtle.
Or fruit boats made with either paper sails or slices of apple/pear/melon, for example.
30. Fruit platters. Often chopping fruit into small pieces makes it more manageable. Children are drawn to bright colours even if they seem to only eat beige foods! Having a range of different fruits on offer can create a display that helps to hold interest.
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully provides a little inspiration for new ways to serve fruit. Any change is good!! And remember, fruit has much the same nutrients and vitamins as veggies so having a child eat a wide range – even if the vegetables are a bit more of a challenge at the moment – is great.
Please share with other families who may find it useful.
Judith is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/