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Rebecca runs around the kitchen quickly preparing dinner to end her busy day. Rice, beans and, to top it off, a few slices of fresh avocado. A convenient and delicious meal for the entire family!
She goes through her checklist.
Everyone is at the table, check.
Little Benny’s avocados are chopped according to choking precaution, check.
Food is served to everyone, check.
Food is…on the floor?
The sound of avocados splatting on the floor jolts Rebecca out of her go-go-go mindset.
“Benny, what’s wrong?” she asks. “You usually love avocados!”
“I hate avocados, Auntie Beccy!” Benny whines. “They are too squishy!”
“Here, give this one a try,” Rebecca pleads. “They are just a little ripe, but they are still good!”
Oh no! Everything was running so smoothly! And Rebecca swore to herself that tonight would be easy. In a desperate attempt to keep things going as planned, she popped some frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave.
Picky eating is tricky. If you can relate to this story, then you have come to the right place. We are here to guide you through the everyday mealtime struggles caregivers face with picky eaters. In this guide, we’ll show you how to teach kids to eat avocados. You can expect to learn:
- The benefits of avocados for kids
- How to serve avocados to picky eaters
- How to talk about avocados to help your child try them
- How to help your child understand what avocados do in their body
- A food activity that will help your picky eater learn to be more comfortable with avocados
The Benefits of Avocados for Kids
Many parents wonder if avocados are healthy for kids and toddlers. There’s good news! Avocados are a versatile fruit that offer nearly 20 nutrients. That is pretty cool!
Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid, which are both B vitamins, are just two out of the 20 nutrients. B Vitamins are important because they help the body convert food into energy.
Did you know that avocados are a source of monounsaturated fat? Monounsaturated fat is fundamental because it acts as fuel for the body. It also helps the body absorb vitamins, keep warm and so much more!
How to Serve Avocados to Picky Eaters
Trying a new food can be intimidating for a selective eater! Here are some suggestions on how to create a safe space at the table to get your child to try avocados.
First of all, providing variety in how you serve foods can help your child understand that this new food can come in different shapes and flavors. Avocados can be served raw, on top of salads, or as dips. You can easily turn avocados into guacamole or chop them up into kid-friendly shapes.
Next, consider portion sizes. A new food can be pretty scary to picky eaters, especially if they’re served a large piece. Serving micro portions can help lower food anxiety. Micro portions are super tiny, pea-sized servings of food. A smaller piece of avocado won’t seem so green, so slimy or so mushy to picky eaters.
Finally, when creating a safe space for your child to try avocado, it’s good to also address pressure. When parents and caregivers put pressure on their kids to try new foods or clear their plates at mealtimes, it can lower the chances of that child developing a healthy relationship with food. Applying pressure can even make your child refuse the food even more.
Here are some examples of what pressure may sound like:
“You used to love avocados! Just give it a try.”
“You can’t play with your cousins until your plate is cleared.”
“Never waste your food. There are so many children who would love to eat the food on your plate.”
Avoiding pressure at mealtimes is an important way to get your kid to eat avocado.
A note about safety: A safe space for eating also means taking into account choking prevention. We have listed some trusty info to go by based on the age of your child:
Choking prevention information
1️⃣Cut in 1/8s (and grind seeds & nuts) for age 1. Think half a pinky finger size.⠀
2️⃣Quarter (and smash seeds & nuts) for age 2.⠀
3️⃣Half (or slivered nut pieces) for age 3.⠀
4️⃣Most kids are fine to eat unmodified food at or after age 4.⠀
How to Talk About Avocados to Help Your Child Try Them
Fussy eaters commonly use negative language to describe a new food. Negative language like, “This is icky,” “that looks like poop,” or “this tastes like dirt” reinforces selective eating habits. Teaching your child to use neutral language is a great way to combat picky eating. An effective way to accomplish this is through modeling. Modeling is the act of using your own actions to set an example for your children, whether at or away from the table.
Neutral language is the perfect medium because it helps create an objective and trusted perspective of this new food. Sometimes positive language can seem sneaky to kids–almost like you are trying to trick them to eat the food. Negative language will push your child away from trying a new food altogether.
Neutral language and modeling won’t instantly make your picky eater try avocado, but it will help.
Here are some neutral words you can use to describe avocados to your selective eater:
- Soft, nutty flavor
How to Help Your Child Understand What Avocados Do in Their Body
Trying to convince a child like Benny that he needs to eat an avocado doesn’t usually end well. A great place to start would be to talk about what foods do in your child’s body when the topic naturally comes up. This understanding that food does something for their bodies will be powerful for the child’s long term relationship with food.
Of course, we want to give age-appropriate information that a child can easily understand.
Is this going to magically make them try something new? Probably not immediately. This is another step in your child learning to eat avocados.
Here are some phrases you can use to help your child understand what avocados do in the body:
Age 0-3: Did you know avocados have a special kind of fat? Fat helps keep you warm and cozy!
Age 3-5: Avocados have a special kind of fat. Fat helps your body move super fast!
Age 6-11: Did you know fat is one of the nutrients that gives your body energy and helps to keep you warm? You can get fat from avocados!
Age 12-18: Unsaturated fats are really important for the body. They help with keeping the body warm, providing energy, and even vitamin absorption. Plants like avocados are great sources of unsaturated fats.
In Benny’s situation, Rebecca could try saying sharing cool facts about avocados. “Yes, avocados can be soft. Also, they have unsaturated fat. This fat helps provide you energy!”
Avocado Food Activity
When kids experience new foods with all of their senses, such as touch, smell and taste, it can improve their chances of trying new foods. This is why food play is so important! Food activities can vary. For a simple suggestion, you can simply have your child help you cook a meal, or you could go one step further and create a dedicated game, like our suggestion below.
Food activities are a great way to increase exposure. Exposure can desensitize the body’s sensory system. When a sense is new to the brain, the brain may automatically see it as a danger and trigger the fight or flight system. “Desensitize” is when your child’s body becomes more used to the food. Then, when your child is with the food, it doesn’t seem so mushy, so green or so soft.
A food activity probably wouldn’t convince a kid to eat avocados right away. But it could make them feel more comfortable with the food over time. It is good to remember that your picky eater may need to go through quite a few stages of being with avocados, such as looking at them, smelling them and touching them before they’re ready to try them. Start small with looking and smelling activities for more anxious or picky kids and work up to more intensive activities like touching and tasting.
Here is an example of an avocado activity for kids. If you need more food activity ideas broken down by age of child (0 to 10-years-old) and stage of learning to like new foods, you may enjoy our food activities guide: Food Play Every Day: 101+ Food Activities for Kids!
- 2-3 medium ripe avocados
- Forks, spoons, knives
- Extra clean hands (so you can repurpose the mashed avocado for a delicious guacamole or avocado toast!)
1. Safely slice avocados in half. Remove pit and flesh of avocado.
2. Have your child help you squish the avocado halves with either their hands or special tools (like spoons and forks).
3. Build your best avocado pottery piece.
Tip: Think outside the box and feel free to use other items (rice, seeds, etc.) to decorate the avocado pottery.
Thanks for being a part of our community that’s teaching kids to eat more foods!
About Kids Eat in Color
Kids Eat in Color gives parents the tools they need to teach their kids to eat veggies and try foods without a battle! From introducing new foods to a picky eater, to reducing meal-time stress, to taking off some of the burdens of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, we are here for parents.
Johane Filemon, MS, RDN, CLT
Alli Delozier, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Laura Petix, M.S., OTR/L
Erinn Jacobi, M.S., OTR/L
Stefanie Kain, B.S., M.Ed
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