How To Get Toddlers To Eat Vegetables

Arrrghh how to get toddlers to eat vegetables without nagging and resorting to bribery, the struggle is real! Parenting can be hard at the best of times without having to force our kids to eat their greens! 

Finding ways to get your kids to eat healthy new foods,  without nagging 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 to me because I was one of those smuggety smug parents who already had a six-year-old who would eat absolutely everything I gave to her. I needed to know how to get a toddler to eat vegetables and quick!  I soon started thinking about how  I was going to need  to be smart with this little  fuss pot, by  using the common old tricks of sneaking veggies into toddler food:

  • Green smoothies at breakfast. A hand full of spinach, a banana, and a handful of berries blended with a handful of ice and some Almond Milk or coconut water, these are always wolfed down in our house, the kids think they are a milkshake. Sometimes if my kids have been super busy with school and activities or are feeling low in energy after being poorly, I add a scoop of  Superfood Shake for an extra boost.
  • Blended or juiced vegetables in sauces, these can be anything from courgette, carrot, beetroot, celery or anything else you have in the fridge.
  • Homemade soups, made from fresh cooked vegetables and stock then blended and sprinkled with parmesan cheese for a delicious, comforting dish.
  • Fresh juices made from a mixture of vegetables such as carrots, beetroot celery and fruit to give it a sweet taste, my kids love apples and oranges added to their juice, I prefer the tartness of grapefruit in mine. Juicing is also a great way to use up fruit and vegetables, and if you use a slow press juicer you can keep the fresh juice in the fridge for longer, although it doesn’t last long in our house!

Nothing new there then, parents have been hiding food in their toddler meals for years, but it didn’t solve my problem. I didn’t want my son to shy away from eating veggies,  I wanted him to grow into an adult who consistently wants to choose to eat vegetables. All of this effort ensured that my son had enough veggies in his diet, but it didn’t make him “love” vegetables in the same way my daughter did.

Then one day I came across a book called  French Children Don’t Throw Food which gave me a huge insight into why French kids eat the same food as their parents including eating vegetables at every meal, without any fuss at all. The French really did seem to have all the answers when it came to healthy eating habits for kids. This book says that we shouldn’t be forcing our kids to eat veggies but should be leading by example and not making it a big deal.

One simple trick they use to get toddlers to eat vegetables,  is to serve a platter of vegetables as a starter, sounds too good to be true right? That’s exactly what I thought! they believe that kids should just eat vegetables like any other food without any attention being drawn to it. So for instance, no child has ever been scolded for not finishing their ice-cream, however, I’ll wager a bet that many many parents have lost their cool when their toddler won’t eat vegetables and fruit!

So we all need to chill the hell out when it comes to getting toddlers to eat veggies, and here’s how to get toddlers to eat vegetables and fruit without loosing your cool!

 How to get toddlers to eat vegetables

Serve a platter full of raw vegetables sliced , as a  “starter” before every meal.

This idea made complete sense to me because:

Before dinner my kids are at their hungriest,  most relaxed and not particularly paying attention to what they’re eating, especially if the tv is on.

 This is a time my kids are also most likely to wrestle each other to the floor for no reason what so ever!
All perfect conditions to sneak some veg into them without them noticing!

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 a particularly picky eater!

If you need advice on chopping and preparing healthy foods click here

I decided that on the first day I would concentrate on coaxing my kids over to the healthy plate withjout them even realize. So, here’s how to get toddlers to eat vegetables!

Time needed: 5 minutes.

 

  1.  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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Try adding a new vegetable each day 

    Make sure they are easy to eat and chopped or sliced thinly.

  6. 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!

Veggies for toddlers healthy food plate

  • Cherry tomatoes chopped 
  • Sliced sweet peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot battons 
  • Melon 
  • Apple slices
  • Sweetcorn
  • Grapes chopped up 
  • Beef tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine 
  • Asparagus
  • Strawberries 
  • Mango slices
  • Celery batons 
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Green beans
  • Fresh peas 
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Raw sliced mushrooms
  • Beetroot pickled

For information on kids portion sizes click here

To read more about healthy snacking for kids read my post here

Benefits of eating veggies as a starter

  • Dinner time became much more relaxed because I knew they’d already eaten a ton of veg as a starter in front of the TV.
  • Because there was no pressure to eat it at dinner time, we were all more relaxed, and it didn’t matter too much if they left food because they’d already eaten the good stuff!
  •  My 4-year-old is choosing to eat lots of veggies for himself with no input from me at all, and the dinnertime battles have ended!
  • The kids were less fussy about what they were eating!
  • They would not be psyched up and prepared for a dinner table battle you can catch them off guard!
  • The kids are not paying attention to what they are eating so there is no battle!
  • They fight each other over the last carrot!

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

 Tell me how to get a toddler to eat carrots? 

The first thing to say here is its probably no big deal if your toddler won’t eat carrots. We spend hours as parents woriing about how to get toddlers to eat vegetables when we dont realy nedd to. I would try taking them off the menu for a few weeks. Then in a few weeks time around snack time get a small bowl with some carrot batons and a bit of humous and eat it in front of your toddler, its pretty common that as parents we can’t eat anything without our toddlers wanting some. You’ll probably find that your nosey toddler will think they’re missing out on something and ask for some of yours. If not, don’t sweat just substitute carrots for some other vegetables  until their taste buds develop more!

Why do some children not like eating vegetables?

I’m no expert on this but in my experience as a parent we often find ourselves saying things like “eat your carrots and you’ll get your pudding” we put a huge emphasis on eating up your veg at dinner time, this signals two things to a child, that veggies are something to be suffered before the treat and that they are important to you! Therefore it gives them power over you to refuse to eat them for a reaction from you.
Kids sometimes have an aversion to the texture of some vegetables, like my son who hates the slimy feeling of lettuce with dressing! you’ll probably find that this stage will pass, so just take the food they are struggling to eat off the menu for a while! 

Do you have anymore tricks to get toddlers to eat vegetables? 

Knowing how to get toddlers to eat vegetables is something that most parents stress over at some stage. I try to pack as many vegetables into things like sandwiches and wraps, such as tomatoes and cucumber, as well as hiding vegetables in sauces. My kids also love home-made soup with buttered crusty bread so I invested in a soup maker which I find amazing for speedy after school dinners. The soup maker has the soup cooked and ready to eat in 21 minutes and if I’m in a hurry I use the pre-cut packs of soup vegetables from the supermarket to save time on chopping . This is a great trick if you are struggling for ideas on how to get toddlers to eat vegetables, and is a teatime life-saver for me!

How do I get my child to eat more fruit?

Sometimes children like to feel that they are having a treat. A great way to get kids to eat more fruit is to blend some strawberries and raspberries into a sauce and use as a topping for porridge, yoghurt, cereal, ice cream or rice pudding, my kids also love it spread on toast.
you can use any fruit but preferably sweeter ones like berries.
My kids also love mashed banana on toast or in a sandwich with jam they see that as a real treat for some reason! Figuring out how to get toddlers to eat more vegetables and fruit can be tough, and one of my favourite ways is to hide them in good old smoothies. The secret is to just add a few until your kids get used to the taste then gradually add more each time you make one until eventually, you’ll find you can add almost anything you like and they’ll wolf it down. Don’t be tempted to present them with a super green smoothie from the off. Try blending a banana ( or half a banana) to some milk and tell your child its a milkshake. Next time you make it, add a couple of strawberries or other fruits. 


This soup maker is a great way to get more vegetables into your kids, it also has a function to make smoothies too so you can have two gadgets in one! i wouldn’t be without my soup maker, it’s used daily in our house!

for some healthy and quick kids soup recipes read my post here

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how to get toddlers to eat vegetables

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