Fruits are so refreshing because they’re full of delicious juice, but their juice can also make them difficult to eat. And I don’t just mean that they drip all over your hands and face. It can be difficult to chew the fruit and hold or swallow the juice at the same time. It takes a lot of tongue control to hold the juice in your mouth while you chew fruit.
If your child needs thickened liquids, it’s probably best to stay away from super-juicy fruits like oranges, melon and grapes because the juice inside is a thin liquid. If you’re working with feeding professionals like a speech therapist or occupational therapist, definitely ask them if you have any concerns or questions about your child eating juicy fruits.
If your child is safe swallowing the thin liquid in juicy fruits, a great way to get used to chewing them is to wrap chunks of the fruit in cheesecloth, a reusable, mesh tea bag, or mesh feeder bag specifically made for kids (with a handle and everything) and let kids chew/suck out the juice. Homemade Baby Food Recipes has put together a really nice list of the best foods for mesh feeders.
Language and Senses:
If your child isn’t ready to eat or taste juicy fruits, you can do a deconstruct activity and find where the juice comes from. Talk about the fruit and get excited about it! When kids know about something they feel more confident about it and they often imitate our moods. So sing a song, play a game and have fun!
Make it into a treasure hunt. Is the juice in the peel? Where is that juice? You can take apart a fruit to find the juice, like in this ‘take apart a tangerine’ activity, or you can juice the fruit to extract the juice.
You can juice by hand (easiest with citrus fruit) or with a juicer. If juicing by hand, roll citrus fruits on the counter with the palm of your hand to release some of the juice. Take time to smell the fruits. Can you smell their smell before you cut them? How do they feel on the outside?
Then cut them in half and squeeze out the juice. Tangerines are a great hand-juicing option for little hands. Some lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange rinds can be tough for young hands to squeeze. Turn juicing into a refreshing cooking activity and make some delicious lemonade, recipe from Paula Dean on the food network.
If you have a juicer, make sure kids stay away from any blades, but you can show them how you start with a juicy fruit like a papaya or watermelon and how the juicer turns it into juice. Then you can explore pieces of the whole fruit, the pulp from the juicer and the juice separately. How do they look the same or different? Touch them; how do they feel the same or different? Taste them; how do they taste the same or different?
Enjoy! Happy food play!