How to Introduce a Smoothie to Baby
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Smoothies are a great way for babies to explore a variety of textures, tastes and temperatures. It's also a common feeding technique to help babies develop their open cup and straw cup milestones. Here are a few tips to help you introduce smoothies to your little one.
What age can I start giving my baby a smoothie? A smoothie is basically a thick puree. So you can offer this texture to a 6-month-old baby as long as they are showing all the signs of readiness. Remember, it’s important to start introducing smoothies to your baby from an open cup (instead of a sippy cup) since drinking from an open cup (held by an adult) is a six-month-old developmental milestone.
- Open Cup: The ezpz Tiny Cup is a food grade safe silicone cup designed specifically for baby’s oral development.
What smoothie texture should I offer? Offering a variety of textures at mealtime (including different smoothie consistencies) will help decrease picky eating. Here are a few textures to try:
- Runny Consistency: In general, smoothies have a slightly thick, runny consistency that is easy for a baby to swallow from an open cup or straw cup.
- Thicker Consistency: You can also make smoothies that have a thicker texture by combining less liquid and more solids. This consistency usually works in both an open cup and straw cup.
- Lumpy Consistency: Depending on the ingredients (such as chia seeds) and how long you blend your smoothie, you can also provide a yummy lumpy texture. This texture only works when drinking from an open cup.
What ingredients do I start with? Have you been wanting to make a smoothie for your baby but are nervous about which ingredients to add? When you first offer a smoothie to your baby’s food rotation you will want to keep the ingredient list short. Start with blending breastmilk or formula (as your base) and then add one fruit or veggie into the ezpz Tiny Cup.
- Smoothie Base: breastmilk / formula
- Single Fruit Ideas: banana, avocado, pineapple
- Single Veggie Ideas: spinach, cooked carrot, cooked sweet potato
When can I start providing more ingredients? After a few weeks of single ingredient smoothies you can start experimenting by adding both a fruit and a veggie to the breastmilk / formula base. Just remember to think about the different tastes you are offering. Do you want to provide a sweet, sour or bitter taste? Or do you want a combination of tastes? For example, spinach has a slightly bitter taste and a banana has a sweet taste, so I like to combine these two together. Here are some of my favorite combos are:
- Spinach + banana
- Carrot + mango
- Kale + nectarines
- Veggie food pouch + avocado
When can I start offering a smoothie in a straw cup? Most babies are ready to start drinking smoothies from a straw around nine months of age, although some babies may show signs of readiness a bit sooner. To know if your baby is ready to start drinking smoothies via a straw, check out my four prerequisites for straw drinking.
- The ezpz Mini Cup + Straw Training System includes a training straw with sensory bumps around the tip to help a baby develop lip rounding (which promotes speech development).
How much of a smoothie should I offer? Babies 6-9 months will usually only drink 1-2 oz of a smoothie at mealtime. And, in the beginning, they may only take one sip. The Tiny Cup is 2oz = the perfect size for a smoothie from an open cup. Babies 9+ months may want to have 2-4 ounces of a smoothie. The Mini Cup + Straw Training System holds 4oz and is a great way to work on their straw drinking milestone.
- Babies 6-9 months: 1-2 oz from an open cup
- Babies 9+ months: 2-4 oz from an open cup or straw cup
What if my baby refuses to drink a smoothie from a cup? Sometimes a baby only wants breastmilk or formula in their cup and will refuse to drink anything else. When this occurs you can preload the smoothie onto a spoon just like you would any other puree. And be sure to scoop the smoothie bite from an open cup (not a bowl).
- Patience: Oftentimes this technique will take a few repetitions before baby becomes disinterested in the spoon and more comfortable drinking the smoothie directly from the open cup. Be patient, it will happen!
- Temperature: Some babies love a very cold smoothie, while others want it slightly chilled or at room temperature. Play with the temperature of the smoothie to help encourage your little one to drink it!
Drinking a smoothie is a practical way for your baby to explore mealtime independence. How will your family incorporate the ezpz Tiny Cup and Mini Cup + Straw Training System with your little one? Let us know and send us your smoothie drinking pics using the hashtag #ezpzfun.
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).