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Are blended smoothies good for my child?

Shakha Gillin, MD, FAAP


​Blended smoothies are a popular trend with both parents and kids. They are fast and simple, and can allow parents to get foods into a child that they otherwise would not eat. Unlike juicing, blending fruits and vegetables into a smoothie retains the whole food, which leaves the fiber intact. Kids can get vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber from a smoothie. Parents can "sneak" kale and spinach into a smoothie that a child may otherwise not eat. Blended smoothies can, however, contain too much sugar if too many fruits are added to the smoothie. Since kids do not have to chew and take the time to eat, they do not have the same biofeedback to regulate how much they are eating. So, it is important to choose the right foods to blend—preferably a combination of vegetables, limited fruit, and dairy.

Advice for Parents:

  • Blended smoothies can be considered for child who doesn't eat due to appetite suppression (such as with some ADHD medications), a child who needs extra nutrients, a child who refuses to eat certain foods, or a child who is on-the-go (e.g., a rushing teen in the morning). But remember, whole fruits and vegetables still need to be presented to kids—especially younger ones who are learning to eat and develop food preferences.

  • Be careful how much sugar is in the smoothie. Drinking a smoothie is faster than eating, so it can cause a quicker rise in insulin. Do not add too much fruit, and do not add any additional sugar. Try to limit the amount of food in the smoothie to what your child could eat if the food was eaten whole vs. blended. In other words, don't put more food into a smoothie than would be typical for a child to eat. (e.g., do not put 2 bananas, 2 apples, blueberries, and strawberries in—that's too much). See Energy In: Recommended Food & Drink Amounts for Children.

  • Although parents often add protein and other powders to their own smoothies, do not add them to kids' smoothies. See Performance-Enhancing Supplements for more information.

Smoothie Recipes:

  • Example 1: 8 oz. milk, 1 banana, 1 tsp. peanut butter, and ice.

  • Example 2: ½ c. low sugar yogurt, 1 banana, 3 strawberries, kale, and ice.

Additional Information & Resources:

Shakha Gillin, MD, FAAP

​Shakha Gillin, MD, FAAP, is co-founder of Coast Pediatrics Del Mar and Coast Pediatrics Carmel Valley. Within the American Academy of Pediatrics, she is also a member of the California Chapter 3. Dr. Gillin has a special interest in preventative care and creating healthy, active lifestyles for children. She was recognized as a "Top Doctor in San Diego" for the past 12 years and has been a board member of local schools for the past 10 years. Dr. Gillin is also the mother of a teenage son. Follow her on Instagram @drshakha

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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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