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5 Clever Ways to Get Your Toddler to Eat Veggies

5 Clever Ways to Get Your Toddler to Eat Veggies

Even at the earliest ages, it's not uncommon for children to boycott vegetables. When getting your toddler — or your older child — to eat his greens feels like a battle of wills, coax your picky eater into trying his veggies by experimenting with the strategies below, all suggested by Circle of Moms members who've been through this stage.

1. Dunk or Hide

Circle of Moms member Kerry says that if her son had a choice, he’d “survive on mac(aroni) and cheese, graham crackers and hot dogs.” So she blends fruits and vegetables and puts the purees in favorite foods like pancakes and spaghetti sauce. “I still offer [vegetables] openly with every meal,” she adds, in case her son is unusually adventurous and decides to eat them solo.

Michelle is another mom who purees and hides. She shares that vegetables can be hidden in basically anything you cook — casseroles, spaghetti sauce, smoothies and juices, “scrambled eggs, shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, muffins, you name it."

If you don't like the idea of subterfuge, consider Nichole's approach. She makes a game of letting her 22-month-old dunk his vegetables into different dips like hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, applesauce and ranch dressing. “At first they may turn up their noses,” she says, “but eventually being allowed to dip becomes a sort of game. I offered carrots and peppers a million times and one day he just dove in!”

 

2. Play With Food

Similarly, Fern says making a game of tasting vegetable flavors encourages toddlers to eat. “I asked him to take a bite and close his eyes and really taste the sweetness,” she says of introducing her older son to bell peppers. “Then the next bite I said, 'See if you can taste the saltiness, and then sourness.' Having him explore the flavor to its fullest has helped him to enjoy them.” She also says serving vegetables in different forms can give your toddler a taste for cruciferous foods. “Some kids prefer raw versus cooked. My kids loved frozen veggie mix,” which her family affectionately calls “vegisicles.” (Related: 7 Veggie Dishes Kids Love)

Kimberly says letting toddlers arrange vegetables into fun shapes and pictures makes eating vegetables appealing. “Sometimes I think kids just get bored with the same thing, so even just making them look fun on the plate makes a big difference.” She suggests faces made from carrot eyes, green bean eye brows, and cauliflower noses, or even snowmen made from mashed potatoes. “My son is 21 months and loves being able to decorate his meal [and] then enjoy it.”

3. Grow a Garden

Toddlers sometimes will expand their palates for vegetables when they know where food comes from. Kylie suggests taking your toddler to a fresh produce shop or farmers' market so show her all the colors and help you pick the veggies to buy. “I think when kids are involved with the process of growing, buying and cooking, the veggies have more appeal.”

Twila agrees. “My son wouldn't eat veggies for a long time. Then one day we were in the garden picking green beans and he grabbed one out of the bowl and ate it. So we started trying other raw veggies. He loved it!” 

“Plus," as Jenni points out, "veggies fresh from the garden taste ten times better than store bought."

 

4. Save the Best for Last

When games and gardening don’t work, Kate suggests moms provide an incentive, like dessert. This has worked for Mel. Her daughter is very quick to eat whatever she puts in front of her because she puts dessert "on the table next to it, so she can see it." She explains that “If she doesn't eat dinner quick enough, she doesn’t get dessert and she's made to watch everyone else have theirs.”

Kate serves her food in courses, starting with her child’s least favorite. “To get to the next course, you have to have four bites of the first, etc.,” she says.

5. Keep Trying

Finally, Heather reminds moms to keep trying. “Toddlers are very fickle in their tastes, and I think we can create a picky eater if we throw up our hands and just start counting ketchup as a vegetable.” Although her daughter turns up her nose to anything green, Heather says she continues to put veggies on the plate. “And often she surprises me and will start eating it if it sits on her plate long enough.”

Image Source: Elizabeth/Table4Five via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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triciaduncan1385295524 triciaduncan1385295524 2 years
i am going to try it but sometime he is so sarmt he look for them
LeslieWeimer LeslieWeimer 3 years
My daughter will try anything. Her favorite veg is corn on the cob.
BrittneyPerkins70623 BrittneyPerkins70623 4 years
I don't have to hide veggies from my veggie loving daughter, she once stole a tomato and ate the whole thing when she was 6 months old.
AndreaFosseneuve62082 AndreaFosseneuve62082 4 years
dosent work for all.. my daughter investigates her food when we make spaghetti or any other food. she notices the littlest things, like carrots. i blend them into her food and she still knows theres veggies in there, funny girl and shes only 2
CoMMember13630575134371 CoMMember13630575134371 4 years
Bribe the kids with dessert? Really? Great way to teach kids that vegetables are really horrible things that can only be eaten with the promise of something better. I wish we would stop basically teaching our kids that they are not supposed to like vegetables by fretting so much about them. Grow a garden, let them explore the food, keep offering without pressure, blend stuff into other food, that is all fine, but bribing is terrible idea.
LizH32262 LizH32262 4 years
My daughter must be the exception to the rule. She loves all vegetables and eats them first from her plate or bowl. If we want her to try a new food, like a different kind of meat, we have to hide that in her vegetables, not the other way around!
CoMMember13610768337979 CoMMember13610768337979 4 years
Love reading this, and remember my own experience with veggies as a kid, trying to get my own to eat theirs...and now I have my grandkids that sometimes don't like theirs either. We try to incorporate lots in our diet, with creative ways of making them attractive...but also now we have the peace of mind that they are getting all they need by using the Juice Plus+ chewables. Kids ages 4-18 can be sponsored for free with any adult order. Check out this website: www.cburchjuiceplus.com and read the clinical research on the actual product. I'd love to hear your feedback!
CoMMember13629145857824 CoMMember13629145857824 4 years
i got my kids to eat green beans by telling them they were green french fries and let them dip in ketchup!
SamanthaUeno SamanthaUeno 4 years
Every weekday I ate lunch with 8 2-3 year olds, and I've seen it all! I've had kids that literally threw up after eating something that didn't agree with them. But they can still learn to eat a variety of foods, just little by little. It also helps a lot when the other 6-7 children are willing to try vegetables and they have some that they like, and get praised for it. And the children with moms that worked with us, and kept giving the children a variety of different foods in their lunch, had children that over time could eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. And the moms that insisted that their children won't eat that, and sent the same white rice and fried chicken, etc. every day, had children that would refuse to eat vegetables. Every Friday we had school lunch made by our boss with organic vegetables from her parents' farm....absolutely delicious and creative meals. Some kids would really benefit from trying things that they might have never had before...and loving it! And some kids......well, they just ate the white rice, and maybe the meat, and then spend the rest of the lunch time asking for dessert or more rice. Sometimes we would give them more if they tried something new, and they usually did but it was a battle. And snacks might play a part. We had a girl who would absolutely refuse to eat anything sometimes at lunch. Sometimes just taking a bite of plain rice and declaring she was finished. It was a total nightmare getting her to eat absolutely anything. Then we saw that when her mom came to pick her up after school (2 hours later) , the girl would complain that she was hungry, and the mother took out a sweet bread or cake and she would happily gobble it up. And the mother was so concerned that she wasn't eating any of her lunch (we always sent the lunch back as it was, no throwing out or cleaning the box) and we flat out told her to stop giving her cake at 2:00. After a couple days of no cake guess what? she started cleaning out her lunchbox!
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