Article at a Glance
• Sometimes it takes 10 tries before children will eat a new food, so don’t give up.
• Avoid power struggles by resisting the urge to nag or force your children into eating vegetables.
• Having fun and getting creative with presentation can help kids get excited about veggies.
We all wished our kids would scream in delight for vegetables—instead of in terror. If you have a toddler, it probably doesn’t make it any easier. Toddlers are starting to assert their independence and often that means they have firm ideas on what they will and will not eat.
So if your kids are refusing to eat vegetables, how do you make sure they are getting the nutrients they need? Luckily a little persistence and creativity can pay off.
Don’t Give Up
Just because toddlers won’t eat something one day, doesn’t mean they won’t eat it the next. Studies show that sometimes it may take 10 or more tries before a child will eat a new food. Keep offering a variety of healthy foods. Starting out with smaller servings is often less intimidating to a child. Resist the urge to offer less healthy substitutes.
Avoid Power Struggles
Often children will refuse a food as a way to assert their independence. Bribing, nagging, and forcing will just turn the situation into a power struggle. Keep offering vegetables, but be sure to keep mealtimes upbeat.
A little bit of creativity can make healthy food fun. Use your creativity or go online to find out ways to make faces, flowers, and animals out of vegetables or fruits. Don’t worry, your toddler won’t be critical if your apple robot doesn’t look “exactly” like a robot.
Sound effects and general silliness can also work wonders. Next time you serve corn, call it “pop corn” and make a loud popping sound while “popping” it into your mouth.
Try putting veggies in the foods your kids love. Believe it or not, strawberry spinach popsicles are surprisingly yummy. Dips can also make carrots fun and zucchini bread is delicious! It is a great way to help your kids associate healthy foods with the foods they already love.
When preparing vegetables make sure they are cooked or cut small enough so they are not a choking hazard.
Get Your Child Involved
Children are often more cooperative if they feel like they are part of the process. Allow your children to help decide which vegetables to buy and them let them help prepare them for meals when possible. A vegetable garden is also an excellent idea. Children are more likely to eat food they helped grow.
For More Information:
My Toddler Hates vegetables. What can I do? (kidshealth.org)