Do you struggle getting your kids to try new foods? You’re not alone! Introducing kids to new foods takes time and patience and fermented foods are no different. Some kids will love fermented foods from the get go and others will take time. Some will also go through phases of loving them one meal and not touching them the next. I’ve experienced this first hand with my 2½ year old Anjali.
The best way to start introducing your kids to fermented foods is to get the whole family on board and make fermented foods a regular part of mealtimes.
To help I've put together my top 5 tips that you can try when introducing your kids to fermented foods. These are what have worked for me over the past 2 years with my daughter Anjali.
1. Start slow
If your child has never eaten fermented foods don’t expect them to love them straight away and be eating fermented foods at every meal from the get go. Try one thing at a time and start by talking about that fermented food and how good it is for them. Start putting it on their plate/in their cup and if they don’t eat/drink it at first, don’t worry just let them explore/play with it until they become curious enough to try. See below the tips for a list of kid friendly ferments to start with.
2. Lead by example
Include fermented foods in your meals too and make them a normal part of mealtime. Kids love to emulate us and are much more likely to try something if they see us eating it too.
3. Get them involved
Whether you’re making your ferments or buying them from the shop get your kids involved in the process. If buying them from the shop let them choose what flavour/type they would like. If making them yourself get your kids to help even if this means getting your 2 year old to massage cabbage while it goes all over the floor! The mess is definitely worth the effort as kids love being involved. Check your ferments daily, talk about the process and watch in awe as they bubble away. My 2 year old is obsessed with our Kombucha scobies and loves saying ‘hi’ to them.
4. Start them early
It’s never too early to get your kids used to the flavours of fermented foods. Babies taste buds start developing from the time they are in the womb and they continue to taste different flavours through your breast milk, so load up on fermented foods during pregnancy and while breastfeeding so the flavours become familiar to your child. As soon as babies are old enough to eat solids they can start having fermented foods. Start of with some sauerkraut juice or coconut kefir on your finger and let them suck it off. Gradually increase their dosage from there. Babies really love sour flavours! If you’ve got older kids it’s never too late to start either it may just take them a little longer for their taste buds to adapt.
5. Make them kid friendly
What foods do your kids love? Incorporate fermented foods into those. Ice-blocks, smoothies and gummies are great to put yoghurt, kefir or kombucha in. Or try putting sauerkraut into a sandwich, a sushi roll or sprinkle on their favourite meal.
What to start with
Fermented foods are on the strong end of the flavour spectrum and not all kids are used to the tangy flavours. Young babies generally love sour flavours from the get go but with older kids it helps to start with milder tasting ferments like yoghurt and water kefir. As they get used to the flavours slowly add in more stronger tasting ferments like sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables.
So have fun experimenting and don’t be hard on yourself if they don’t like something the first time. Be patient and persistent and you will be rewarded in the long term.
Check out these kid friendly recipes for some ideas: