Apples are a staple fruit for lots of kids and, when they’re not, they’re usually one of the top foods on the “I’d love my kid to eat this” list. Apples have a mild, sweet flavor. They’re juicy, but not too messy. They seem like the perfect snack, but not for everyone. Some kids prefer bolder flavors or they like a crumbly crunch, rather than a juicy one. To explore your child’s taste and texture preferences use the worksheets in the free resource library. Then check out the ideas below to find the kind of exploration that will best help your child learn to love apples!
1. Apple Chips
If your child prefers crunchy foods, apple chips can be a great way to introduce apples in a texture she already likes and feels comfortable eating. You can buy pre-made bags of apple chips in the store (which can sometimes help the ease the change to fruit chips because they’re still coming out of a bag) or you can make your own in the oven.
2. Play With Peel
We often cut the peel off of fruits like apples for kids, but the peel can also be fun to explore (and nibble) on it’s own. One side of it isn’t ‘wet’ like the inside of the apple, so for kids who don’t like to touch anything wet, it offers an access point to touching the inside of an apple without having to grasp onto a whole piece. Apple peel is also a great food to practice biting by making ‘bite marks’! Or use a small cookie cutter and make ‘apple peel cookies’ into fun shapes!
3. Dice It Up
We’re used to seeing apple slices in the shape of a wedge, but often just by cutting a familiar food a different way, kids will give it a second look, a second touch and maybe a second try, or 3rd or 4th! Make sure to cut these into big enough or small enough cubes for your child’s oral motor skills and to keep them from being a choking hazard. Then you can stack them up like blocks, fill up a bowl in a turn-taking game or play a pretend game like dump-truck construction site.
4. Apple Pie/Baked Apple
Apples change texture from hard/crunchy to mechanical soft when they’re cooked. For a lot of kids who find chewing to be difficult or tiring, crunchy foods are a struggle and the soft texture of cooked apple may be their ‘in’ to learn to love apples. Cooking apples is also a great way to present them to sweet lovers as the fruit gets sweeter as it’s cooked and you can add spices like cinnamon and brown sugar to enhance the natural sweetness, too!
5. Apple Sauce
Apple sauce it often a first introduction to the flavor of apple since it’s a puree and doesn’t need to be chewed. This can also be a great way to explore apple for older kids who might enjoy the sensory play of playing with purees. It’s also a great food to practice using a spoon (you can always add a little rice cereal to any puree to help it stick to the spoon, if it keeps dripping off).
However you choose to play with apples, I hope you have so much fun! And don’t forget to sign up for the free resource library to get access to the taste and texture preference worksheets and the free Animal Alphabet e-book to add food learning to book time!
Enjoy and happy food play!