Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. That means Kids Eat in Color® gets commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, Kids Eat in Color® earns from qualifying purchases. All opinions remain my own.
This article was reviewed by a team of experts, including Erinn Jacobi, M.S., OTR/L. View full list of reviewers below.
When Jameson was four years old, he went blueberry picking with his family. He loved the experience of picking and eating them right off of the vine. His parents were constantly chasing him around, making sure he didn’t eat the bushes dry!
Right before they left the farm, Jameson snuck one last handful of blueberries. He crunched down on a blueberry and immediately his mouth was filled with a shocking flavor he had never tasted before. He started crying and told his parents the blueberry tasted bad in his mouth. He must have eaten a sour one! Since then, he hasn’t wanted to try blueberries again, fearful of repeating that experience.
After a year, his parents became frustrated. He wouldn’t eat blueberries anymore–and they were one of only a few fruits he liked! Jameson was a picky eater, and when he refused to eat blueberries, his parents felt they needed to take action.
They tried convincing Jameson that blueberries weren’t sour, they were sweet.
“Don’t worry, Jameson,” they’d assure him. “There are no more sour blueberries. These are sweet.”
But Jameson was just too afraid to try them again. His parents were at such a loss, and didn’t know what to do. They wished they could come up with a way to help him like blueberries again.
Trying to help your child through the picky eating phase can be so difficult. We have been there ourselves. Now, we can help you! This guide will help you teach your kids to eat blueberries. You’ll learn:
- The benefits of blueberries for kids
- How to serve blueberries to picky eaters
- How to talk about blueberries to help your child try them
- How to help your child understand what blueberries do in their body
- A food activity that will help your picky eater learn to be more comfortable with blueberries
The Benefits of Blueberries for Kids
When it comes to health benefits for kids and toddlers, blueberries are small but mighty. In fact, they are among some of the most nutrient-dense berries there are!
Blueberries have fiber, which is important for our children because it helps them go to the bathroom and feel full when eating. It also helps keep cholesterol in check and supports heart health. Blueberries are also packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for children as it helps to promote a healthy immune system.
Another reason we love blueberries for kids and toddlers? Hydration! Did you know that they are actually 85% water? In addition to drinking water as a beverage, children can get hydration from food sources. Blueberries are great if you’re looking to increase your picky eater’s water consumption.
Since blueberries are packed with benefits for kids, it isn’t surprising that Jameson’s parents were so insistent on getting Jameson to eat them again.
How to Serve Blueberries to Picky Eaters
We recommend when you serve blueberries to kids and toddlers, you vary the way you serve the fruit. Serving the food in different ways can prevent your child from getting stuck in a rut and helps them accept it in its various forms.
Luckily, blueberries are versatile and can be added to many different recipes! They can be eaten raw or cooked. Fresh blueberries can be a great addition to salads, yogurt and cold or hot cereals. Their bright blue hues add color to fruit salads or fruit kebabs. You can freeze blueberries and add to smoothies, and you can dry them and put them in trail mix. Blueberry pie is a decadent way to enjoy cooked blueberries. They can also be combined with pancake or waffle batter for a sweet surprise. Cooking blueberries down to make jelly or jam and canning it is a great way to use up any blueberries that may be close to expiring! If you are serving whole fresh or frozen berries, be sure that you cut them into age-appropriate pieces to avoid choking.
A big picky eating hack for serving new foods to kids is “micro portions.” Micro portions are very small pieces of a new food, about the size of a corn niblet. When we serve a tiny piece of the new food, it is much less scary to selective eaters. They are much more likely to interact with it. Blueberries can be pricey, and a bonus of micro portions is that they cut down on food waste if your child isn’t ready to try the food yet!
Finally, to get your kid to eat blueberries, don’t pressure them to eat. It can be difficult to say nothing when your picky eater won’t even try a food that you think they will like. You may have found yourself saying, “Just take one bite. It’s sweet and you’ll like it.” You may not realize that this kind of pressure can often make kids less likely to try the food.
Jameson’s parents were desperate and tried to convince him that the blueberries were going to be sweet when they knew that there was a chance they could be sour. They didn’t realize this was pressure! They just wanted to help teach their picky kid to eat blueberries.
How to Talk About Blueberries to Help Your Child Try Them
When picky eaters are confronted with unfamiliar food, they tend to use negative language to describe it. “This looks funny,” “the smell is funky,” “this is too mushy,” are common things you may have heard picky eaters may say about new foods. This negative language only reinforces picky eating behaviors.
We can help our children learn new words to talk about the foods they encounter. Neutral language is the goal, because it lets children draw conclusions about foods for themselves. Overly positive words may influence your child negatively as they could think you’re tricking them into eating something that’s really bad.
Making an adjustment to the way you speak about foods in your home is part of a multi-faceted strategy that gets your child to try blueberries in the short term, and gets them to accept more foods in the long run.
Here are some words you can use to describe blueberries to your fussy eater:
- Small smell
In the future, Jameson’s parents could try to entice Jameson to try blueberries again by saying, “Blueberries are small, round and juicy berries that squish in your mouth when you chomp!”
How to Help Your Child Understand What Blueberries Do in Their Body
Talking your picky eater into trying a new food hardley ever works. Trust us, we’ve tried it. And tried it. And tried it. Instead of exhausting yourself and your child with this method, consider talking about what the food does inside their body. Sharing age-appropriate facts about blueberries can help children understand the connection between the food and how their body feels.
We’ve created some messages about blueberries that your children may like! Here they are broken down by age:
Age 0-3: Blue foods help you feel better when you’re sick. Usually blueberries are sweet and sometimes they are sour.
Age 3-5: Blue foods, like blueberries, help your body fight germs. Blueberries are usually sweet but some are sour.
Age 6-11: Blueberries have antioxidants which help your body stop sickness. Usually they have a sweet taste, but some are sour if they are picked too early.
Age 12-18: Blueberries have antioxidants, which help your body’s immune system fight off sickness. They are typically sweet, but some are picked before they are ripe enough, and as a result, taste sour.
Jameson didn’t know much about blueberries aside from his bad experience with them at the blueberry field. It is possible that if his parents let him know that blue foods help your body fight germs, he would have been more receptive to them again.
Blueberry Food Activity
Food activities are play experiences that are designed to help selective children desensitize their body and brain to new foods. Desensitizing means to become more comfortable with the look, smell, sound, feeling and maybe even the taste of something they’ve never experienced before.
Food play should be fun and pressure free for both you and your little one. You can make food play a part of your regular routine by letting your child help write the grocery list and search for the foods at the store. Food play can also be more involved if you want to dedicate time and energy to it.
Remember, sometimes kids need many exposures and experiences with a particular food before they are ready to take that first bite. Your child may need to interact with blueberries many times before they are ready to try them.
We provided a fun blueberry activity below. If you need more ideas, check out Food Play Every Day: 101+ Food Activities for Kids!
- 1 watermelon
- Bowls (1 per fruit)
- Optional, additional fruits/vegetables: clementines, grapes, peas, shredded carrots, apple slices, etc.
- Cut off one of the rounded ends of the watermelon. Slice the next piece about 1 inch thick. This circular piece will act as the head for the faces to be created upon.
- Place the blueberries in a bowl. If you are just using blueberries, you can create faces with eyes, noses, mouths, etc.
- If you are using other elements, you can put them each in their own bowl and create more elements of the face, like clementine slice eyebrows, shredded carrot hair, apple slice mouths, etc.
- BONUS: Take the game to another level and call out different faces to make such as happy, sad, worried, scared, excited, etc. See what your child comes up with!
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
Baylin, Jonathan. “Behavioral Epigenetics and Attachment: The New Science of Trust and Mistrust.” The Neuropsychotherapist 1, no. 3 (2013): 68–79. https://doi.org/10.12744/tnpt(3)068-079.
Benson, Jeryl D., Carol S. Parke, Casey Gannon, and Diane Muñoz. “A Retrospective Analysis of the Sequential Oral Sensory Feeding Approach in Children with Feeding Difficulties.” Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention 6, no. 4 (2013): 289–300. https://doi.org/10.1080/19411243.2013.860758.
Berk, Laura E. Development Through the Lifespan. 7th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2018.
Bodison, Stefanie C., and L. Diane Parham. “Specific Sensory Techniques and Sensory Environmental Modifications for Children and Youth with Sensory Integration Difficulties: A Systematic Review.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 72, no. 1 (December 2017). https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.029413.
Case-Smith, Jane, and Jane Clifford O’Brien. Occupational Therapy for Children. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby/Elsevier, 2010.
Cooke, L. “The Importance of Exposure for Healthy Eating in Childhood: A Review.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 20, no. 4 (2007): 294–301. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277x.2007.00804.x.
Copple, Carol, and Sue Bredekamp. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs: Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2008.
“Grab a Boost of Blue.” Blueberry.org. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, July 14, 2021. https://blueberry.org/grab-a-boost-of-blue/.
Gunnars, Kris. “The 11 Most Nutrient-Dense Foods on the Planet.” Healthline. Healthline Media, August 27, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-most-nutrient-dense-foods-on-the-planet.
Hagan, Joseph F., Judith S. Shaw, and Paula M. Duncan, eds. Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents (Pocket Guide). 4th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017. https://brightfutures.aap.org/Bright%20Futures%20Documents/BF4_POCKETGUIDE.pdf.
Kramer, Paula, Jim Hinojosa, and Tsu-Hsin Howe. Frames of Reference for Pediatric Occupational Therapy. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2020.
Leech, Joe. “10 Proven Health Benefits of Blueberries.” Healthline. Healthline Media, October 9, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-blueberries#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2.
Milestone Moments: Learn the Signs, Act Early. Atlanta, GA: Department of Health & Human Services USA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/MilestoneMomentsEng508.pdf.
Min, Kyoung-Chul, and Yoo-Im Choi. “Review of Effectiveness Sensory Integration Therapy on Feeding and Oral Function of Children Focus on Single-Subject Research Design.” Journal of Korean Society of Occupational Therapy 29, no. 1 (2021): 101–13. https://doi.org/10.14519/kjot.2021.29.1.08.
Papalia, Diane E., Ruth Duskin Feldman, and Sally Wendkos Olds. Human Development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009.
Parham, L. Diane, Gloria Frolek Clark, Renee Watling, and Roseann Schaaf. “Occupational Therapy Interventions for Children and Youth with Challenges in Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing: A Clinic-Based Practice Case Example.” American Journal of Occupational Therapy 73, no. 1 (January 2019). https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2019.731002.
“Preschooler Development.” MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002013.htm.
Roley, Smith Susanne, Erna I. Blanche, and Roseann C. Schaaf. Understanding the Nature of Sensory Integration with Diverse Populations. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, 2007.