Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits: Why Kids Should Give Dates a Try

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Article written by: Katie Pierce

A balanced diet supports optimal growth and development in children. It provides a comprehensive array of essential nutrients that function as the building blocks for a healthy body and mind. 

However, encouraging children to adopt healthy eating habits can be challenging. For example, some children exhibit neophobia, a fear of trying new foods. This can make them hesitant to incorporate unfamiliar healthy options into their diet (1). Their developing taste buds may also make sugary treats more appealing than fruits and vegetables.

This is where introducing them to dates can be a great idea. This fruit is sweet and chewy, so kids are more likely to enjoy them. 

Let’s look at the nutritional benefits of dates and explore different date recipes that will help you incorporate them into your child’s diet. 


How to Introduce Dates to Kids

Dates are a fruit naturally found in warm climates, such as the Middle East and North Africa. They’re naturally sweet and known to have a caramel-like flavor. This sweetness comes from the natural sugars present in the fruit, making it a delightful treat for both adults and kids. The chewy texture of dates also makes it more appealing as a snack or ingredient in various dishes.

Since children are often drawn to sweet foods with an enjoyable texture, dates can be an excellent addition to their diet. You can present dates as a fun and tasty snack option full of nutrients. Incorporating dates into familiar snacks and recipes can also help children develop a positive association with this fruit.


Nutritional Benefits of Dates

Dates are a great snack option for kids because of its numerous nutritional benefits. These benefits include:

  • Fiber: Dates are a great option for fiber, which is important for digestive health. Eating enough fiber will help regulate digestion and prevent constipation. It will also help you feel full for longer (2).
  • Energy: Dates are a natural source of carbohydrates, primarily in the form of sugars like glucose and fructose. They provide an average of 314 kcal in just 100 g of flesh (2).
  • Antioxidants: Dates also contain various antioxidants. This provides suitable nutritional therapy for different diseases such as cancer and diabetes (3,4).
  • Improves bone health: Dates are rich in selenium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Consuming dates can help you maintain strong and healthy bones, as well as prevent bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis and fractures (3).
  • Reduce risk of tooth decay: Dates are full of fluorine, a compound related to fluoride. It’s known for its enamel-friendly properties and may help combat early stages of tooth decay (3).


Fun Ways to Get Kids to Enjoy Dates

One way to get your little ones to enjoy dates is to incorporate them into nutritious snacks for kids. Nutritious bites will provide a delicious opportunity for kids to discover new flavors and textures while enjoying a snack.

Here are some ideas:

Date Candy Pops

Take out the pits from your dates, then pop a popsicle stick in each one. Once that’s done, dip them in melted chocolate or yogurt. Roll the dates in chocolate in nuts, coconut flakes, or granola for added texture then freeze them. 

You can even turn making Date Candy Pops into a fun activity with your kid. Lay out the various ingredients and make them choose how they want to decorate their pops.


Date Smoothies

If your kid is still hesitant to try dates, you can blend the fruit into smoothies. Dates add natural sweetness and a creamy texture to smoothies, so they’re a great addition to your usual drink. 

Depending on your kid’s preference, you can blend dates with various ingredients to create delicious and nutritious smoothie combinations. Try blending dates with bananas, strawberries, and yogurt for a classic fruity flavor. Mixing them with cocoa powder and almond milk will create a chocolatey treat.


Date Toppings

Dates work great as toppings for your favorite food. To make date toppings, chop the fruits into tiny pieces and store them in the freezer. 

This will make the dates conveniently available whenever you want to sprinkle them over yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal for added sweetness and texture. You can also use them to top off pancakes, waffles, or ice cream sundaes for a delicious and nutritious twist.


Trail Mix Twist

Elevate your usual trail mix by adding dates. Dates offer a chewy and naturally sweet element that perfectly complements and enhances the texture of the trail mix. 

Trail mix is a good way to introduce your kids to dates because you can customize it to their liking. A good combination of their favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits will make the snack more appealing.


The Bottom Line

Introducing dates to your child's diet offers a variety of health benefits. You can incorporate the fruit into familiar snacks and get creative with fun recipes. These will help your child develop a love for this healthy and versatile fruit. It's time to level up your snack game!


  1. Białek-Dratwa et al. Neophobia-A Natural Developmental Stage or Feeding Difficulties for Children? Nutrients, 2022. 
  2. Al-Farsi MA, Lee CY. Nutritional and functional properties of dates: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2008.
  3. Naureen et al. Potential Health Benefit of Dates Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview. Haya: The Saudi Journal of Life Sciences, 2022. 
  4. Alalwan et al. Effects of Daily Low-Dose Date Consumption on Glycemic Control, Lipid Profile, and Quality of Life in Adults with Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 2020.

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