Here’s what a Mom recently asked me: "I have what may be a silly question. Should I be concerned with my 8 month old getting too much fruit? In other words, can kids have too much fruit?
Can Kids Have Too Much Fruit?
In a word: yes. Let me expand with 2 key points.
- All of us (i.e. adults too) can get diarrhea from eating too much fruit at once. If your child’s stools are getting loose, then it's a sign of too much fruit.
- Of course, fruit is a healthy food. But human beings need a wide variety of foods from all the food groups to meet our nutrition needs.
In particular, for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, iron is a key nutrient that we’re looking to provide through food. Fruit is low in iron. It’s recommended that you offer iron-rich foods twice a day.
It’s normal for kids to have food preferences. However, kids aren’t at a developmentally ready to understand that human beings can’t survive on a favourite food alone until they’re well into their school-age years.
How to Make Sure Your Child Doesn't Get Too Much Fruit
If you notice that your child will always choose one or two favourite foods, I recommend starting a technique that I call “controlling what’s on the menu”.
Here’s how. You choose what foods you will offer, i.e. what foods are on the menu, at meals and snacks. Your child gets to choose what they’ll eat from what you’ve provided. And, they get to control how much of each food they eat (yes, including zero bites).
This way you are creating a situation where your child eats a balance of food groups throughout the day. And, your child gets to express themselves by controlling what they eat from what you’ve provided. You’ve created an environment where you’re making sure that your child is getting good nutrition at the same time as your child’s personal boundary with their body is respected.
For example, for this mom’s 8 month old, at one solid food time each day serve an iron-rich food either on it’s own, or with another food that isn’t fruit – maybe it’s a vegetable or a grain. Feel free to offer fruit at the other solid food time where you’re offering the iron-rich food. If your child eats a particularly huge amount of fruit one day and you notice that his stools are loose, hold off offering fruit for a day or two. Create balance by offering vegetables, protein foods, and grains.