Okay so clearly you’re here for a reason. You are trying to get your stubborn toddler or kids to eat their veggies but they just won’t do it. Maybe you feel like you tried everything and you have resorted to just letting your child eat whatever they want as long as they eat something – still an option by the way; a fed child is better than a starving one. But being that naturally, as a parent, you want what’s best for your child and you want to make sure you’re giving them the best nutrients possible.
First of all, let me just state that it’s great that you are exploring options to try and get your child to eat their veggies. Next, I would like to state that the following suggestions are simply that, suggestions. This is my experience with getting my child to eat his greens and you are welcome to take it how you feel. And if you think of any other suggestions, please do share in the comments!
Lead By Example
Are you eating your veggies yourself? Children watch and copy our every move, including our eating habits. Are you offering your child veggies but you don’t even have any on your plate? This first suggestion is definitely step one to get your child to eat their veggies. If your child sees that you’re not interested in something, chances are they won’t either. Need more convincing? Check out this blog post on how to incorporate eating healthy when you don’t like vegetables.
To avoid this dilemma, be sure that you are practicing what you are preaching and don’t expect your child to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Children are very intuitive and they can often pick up on cues very well so even if you yourself don’t enjoy vegetables, you just have to fake it until you make it to ensure that your child is getting his veggies in.
Slowly Introduce Them to Veggies
If your child was never into trying veggies but you figure it’s time for them to eat their greens, you can gradually introduce them. Start with very small portions so as to not overwhelm your child with a new weird-looking food they’ve never seen before. For example, you can steam some zucchini and dice it real small and add a tad bit of seasoning and serve it to your child to try. I would recommend starting with veggies that don’t have a bold taste so your child isn’t off-put by the taste.
Mix The Veggies In
Adding veggies to meals your child already eats is another great way to get them to eat their veggies. I love chopping up veggies to add to pasta, soup, omelettes and on pizza. I also love to incorporate veggie alternatives such as veggies noodles and zucchini squash instead of regular pasta noodles. You can dice the veggies up very small so that they won’t even notice they’re there. I personally want my child to see that he’s eating vegetables so he knows they aren’t so bad after all.
I also avoid seasoning the veggies too much. It’s okay to add a little flavor but you want your child to be able to taste what the vegetable actually tastes like and have their palate get used to it.
Have Them Help You Make the Veggies
My son love to help me make and do everything, no matter what it it. He takes a lot of pride knowing that he helped me make a certain meal and now he gets to enjoy what he made. Having your child help you while you make the veggies could make the ‘activity’ of eating veggies more enjoyable. They will feel happy that they got to help you make the food and now they can eat what they made.
If your child is old enough to understand that we need balanced diets in our life, then I would definitely explain why they need to eat their greens. An old school classic, Popeye is a great example to show your little ones that if they eat their vegetables they will get really strong. I would avoid any threats and punishments if they don’t eat them – maybe just no dessert. You want the vegetable eating experience to be a positive one that they associate with positive things. Speak to your child positively when discussing their veggies and get them involved in the conversation.
Let Them Pick Which Vegetable They Want To Eat Or Try
Offering choices of different vegetables is something I have to resort to from time to time when my son is having one of those days where he just doesn’t want to eat any vegetables at all. It’s always tricky with toddlers because they like choices and options but they also change their mind a lot! I always give my son choices of things he can eat that way he feels like he has a say but I just limit the choices to what I want him to eat.
For example if you bring your child to the store while you grocery shop, you can have them pick out a vegetable that looks interesting to them. They will feel more in control of the situation and more likely to eat if since they picked it out. Another example is to cook 2 or 3 vegetables and add small amounts to your child’s plate. They can pick and choose which vegetables they would like to eat. You could even make a game out of it and have your child guess what vegetable they think it is.
Serve Them First
Offer your child their vegetables first before you give them any other entree or side. If they are actually hungry they would at least try the vegetables. After they have tried them, you can serve them the rest of their meal. This tip usually works for me when I notice my son has been reserving his vegetables to eat last.
If all fails and you are still struggling to give your child the vegetables that they need, fruit is still an option. Certain fruits sometimes have the same if not more vitamins than certain vegetables. While there’s a ton more sugar in fruit, it is better than nothing.
Here are some fruits my son eats when he’s refusing any vegetables:
Cantaloupe and apricots are high in vitamin A
Strawberries and citrus fruits are high in vitamin C
Prunes and kiwi are a good source for vitamin K
Avocado and mangoes are good for vitamin E
I hope this has been helpful to get your child to eat their vegetables. And again, don’t forget that as long as your child is eating something, you’re doing great. Us parents are always so hard on ourselves, but we are doing our best. Hang in there! To read more about other mom hacks that I have implemented with my toddler, check here!