Do you ever experience the feeling of Mom guilt when your child refuses to eat healthy food? Knowing how to encourage toddlers to eat vegetables without resorting to nagging or bribery can be frustrating. Finding a solution can feel like searching for a golden chalice. It’s a real struggle!
Parenting can be difficult, especially when getting children to eat their vegetables.
Finding ways to get your kids to eat healthy new foods without browbeating them to eat veggies can be a mammoth task. It was a daily struggle for me and my two kids. My 4-year-old son is naturally a fussy eater; he does the usual trick of pretending to vomit every time I present him with a salad or any vegetables. If it’s green, he refuses to go near it.
This discovery came as a tremendous shock because I was one of those smuggety-smug parents who already had a six-year-old who would eat everything I gave to her. But this time, I needed to know how to get my toddler to eat vegetables quickly! I thought about how I was going to be smart with this little fusspot by using the common old tricks of sneaking veggies into his food:
We love starting our mornings with refreshing green smoothies. A delightful blend of spinach, banana, berries, and a touch of peanut butter, all mixed with ice and your choice of almond milk or coconut water. It’s a treat that even the kids can’t resist – they think it’s a milkshake!
You can utilize a variety of blended or juiced vegetables, such as courgette, carrot, beetroot, celery, or any other vegetables you have in your fridge, to enhance the flavor of your sauces. This clever approach allows you to effortlessly incorporate vegetables into your kids’ meals, as they won’t even notice the subtle taste.
Indulge in the goodness of homemade soups and tomato sauces, crafted from fresh vegetables, lentils, and flavorful stock. These delectable dishes are meticulously prepared, perfectly blended, and adorned with savory Parmesan cheese. Tomato sauce, a beloved favorite of my little one, conceals its hidden treasures of nourishment and delight!
Fresh juices, crafted from a medley of vegetables like carrots, beetroot, and celery, combined with the sweetness of fruits, are a delightful treat. My kids adore adding apples and oranges to their juice, while I savor the tanginess of grapefruit. Juicing helps utilize excess fruits and vegetables and allows for longer storage in the refrigerator when using a slow-press juicer. Although the fresh juice rarely lasts long in our household!
Parents have been hiding vegetables in their toddler meals for years, but it did not help my problem. I did not want my son to develop an aversion to eating vegetables. Instead, I wanted him to grow into an adult who consistently chooses to eat vegetables. Although my efforts ensured that my son had enough vegetables in his diet, it did not make him love vegetables as much as my daughter did. I wanted him to learn about food sources and their origins, rather than having to conceal them in his food.
How to get children to eat vegetables
One day, I stumbled upon a book called “French Children Don’t Throw Food.” This book provided me with great insight into how French children eat the same food as their parents, including vegetables at every meal, without any fuss. The French seem to have all the answers when it comes to healthy eating habits for kids. The book emphasizes that instead of forcing kids to eat vegetables, we should lead by example and not make it a big deal.
A simple technique that parents use to encourage toddlers to eat vegetables is to serve a platter of vegetables as a starter. It might sound too good to be true, but it actually works! The idea is to make vegetables a normal part of their meal without making a fuss about it. Unlike ice cream, where kids are allowed to leave a portion uneaten, many parents tend to get upset when their child refuses to eat fruits and vegetables.
It’s important to approach getting kids to eat vegetables calmly and without drama. Here are some tips to make it easier.
How to get toddlers to eat vegetables
Serve a platter of raw vegetables sliced as a “starter” before every meal.
This idea made complete sense to me because:
My children are most hungry and relaxed before dinner. They are not particularly mindful of their eating, especially when watching TV.
This is the time when my kids are most likely to wrestle each other to the floor for no reason at all! It’s the perfect opportunity to sneak in some veggies without them knowing!
Although I’m not a fan of kids eating in front of the TV, this is a great way to get them to focus on something other than the fact that they are eating veggies, especially if they are particularly picky eaters!
If you need advice on chopping and preparing healthy foods, click here
On the first day, I decided to concentrate on coaxing my kids to a healthy plate
Time needed: 5 minutes.
- Day 1: Choose foods you know your child will eat for the first platter.
Pick foods which you know they will love to put on the platter for the first day. If they will only eat bananas then only put bananas on the plate.
- Leave the plate on the table next to them and walk away!
Don’t mention it, don’t tell them it’s for them, let them discover it themselves. Do it when they are distracted with something they enjoy. Just dump it and run! Hopefully, they should wrestle each other for the food on the plate and then ask for more! If they don’t eat it take the plate away without saying anything, dont offer alternate snacks!
- Day 2: Add a new raw vegetable or fruit.
Try to make it something you know they’ll be likely to want to eat, I find most kids like halved cherry tomatoes and grapes.
- Day 3: Try a platter of just vegetables
Remember to make them easy to eat. If you’re trying them with carrot batons for the first time, give them a little pot of humous to dip them in. keep things simple at first.
- Try adding a new vegetable each day
Make sure they are easy to eat and chopped or sliced thinly.
- When they get used to the platter, mix fruit and veggies
Serve as a starter every day before each meal, this will ensure your kids eat their veggies and will prevent the battles over soggy broccoli at the dinner table. you will be more relaxed at the dinner table knowing that your kids have already eaten their veg so if they choose to leave the veg on their dinner plate it’s no big deal. if you don’t nag them or stress over them eating their veg at dinner you’ll probably find that they eat it on their own accord!
Best vegetables for kids
When introducing new foods to your toddler or kid, choosing vegetables that are easy to eat is important. This can help them get used to eating from a plate. However, be careful of small foods that could cause choking hazards for young children. Here are some of the best vegetables for toddlers and kids to try while introducing them to this new eating method.
- Cherry tomatoes chopped
- Sliced sweet peppers
- Bell peppers
- Apple slices
- Grapes chopped up
- Beef tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine
- Mango slices
- Celery batons
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Fresh peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Raw sliced mushrooms
- Beetroot pickled
To read more about healthy snacking for kids, read my post here
Benefits of eating veggies as a starter
Dinner time is more relaxed, knowing your child ate before dinner.
There is no pressure to eat vegetables at dinner time, creating a relaxed atmosphere. If a toddler doesn’t eat vegetables, it’s okay because they have already eaten healthy food.
Your child will happily eat vegetables without any dinner-time battles.
The children will become less picky about their food choices!
The kids will not be psyched up and prepared for a dinner table battle. You catch them off guard!
Everyone can relax at mealtimes.
The kids stop focussing on what they don’t want to eat and start to enjoy their meal, so there is no conflict!
They will fight each other over the last carrot on the platter!
The vegetables they eat will be raw and full of vitamins and minerals, otherwise lost in the cooking process.
To read about meal planning for the week, click here, or to learn how to batch-cook healthy meals for your family, read this post
This soup maker is a great way to get more vegetables into your kids, and it also has a function to make smoothies, too, so that you can have two gadgets in one! I wouldn’t be without my soup maker. It’s used daily in our house and is the easiest way for my toddler to eat veggies!
for some healthy and quick recipes to get your toddler to eat vegetables, read my post here
If you’re still wondering how to get toddlers to eat vegetables or have any tips, drop us a line in the comments!