How many of us have heard these phrases before??? “My child is such a picky eater” or “Toddlers just don’t like vegetables” or even “I just don’t know how to get toddlers to eat vegetable”. Or how about this one, “As long as he eats something I’m happy”.(That one was me)
Trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt!
Not to mention that my child is of the particularly feisty and rowdy variety. 🙂 He is smart, kind, and an overall great kid, but boy oh boy can he be stubborn and put up a good fight! When I started realizing that my toddler wasn’t exactly getting the nutrition that he should be getting, I went on a crusade to figure out how to get my toddler to eat healthier. I was already trying to buy organic but he was eating more fruits than anything.
I literally tried everything you could possibly think of and after some failures and some great successes I have come up with my top ten tips on how to get toddlers to eat vegetables (In no particular order). Also make sure to check out my post on Organic fruits and vegetables!
How to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables
1. Cheese It Up
You would be hard pressed to find a child that does not like cheese. Everyone loves cheese don’t they? It can’t just be me 🙂 Cheese can add a great flavor to many of those vegetables that some toddlers are slow to warm up to. Broccoli is a great vegetable to start of with, along with cauliflower, brussel sprouts, or even asparagus. Cutting vegetables into smaller pieces and smothering them in cheese is always a great way for me to get my toddler at least interested in taking a look at the vegetables. If you are feeling particularly fancy, adding some bread crumbs and baking your cheese veggies in the oven for a few minutes adds an extra tasty crunch as well.
2. Hide It
This may sound a little sneaky, but if it works, it works! I love to make my chicken/broccoli casserole because it tastes awesome first and foremost. But the other great benefit is that my toddler likes it! All it takes is mixing white rice, cut up chicken tenderloins, seasoned broccoli, and cream of chicken in one pot and then serve it sprinkled with Parmesan cheese on top. (trust me the Parmesan is awesome!) My toddler knows he is eating broccoli but its so yummy he doesn’t care. I would also suggest checking out a great broccoli/cauliflower casserole recipe online. This dish is super toddler friendly and very tasty.
An additional great food to hide veggies such as Zucchini in are muffins. Again, a quick search on Pinterest and you can find numerous tasty recipes to try.
3.Make Sure Your Veggies are Seasoned and Tasty
This may go without saying, but err ummm, make sure your veggies taste good. I’m just saying 🙂 Now is not the time to to go super low on the salt and butter. Now don’t get me wrong, low salt is a great thing in general, especially for children. But I have been to restaurants on occasion where the veggies that I usually love were inedible because of the way they were cooked. So parents and guardians, please try not to do that to your kids! That’s a battle that doesn’t need to be fought right now!
4.One of My Favorite Secrets on How to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables: Taste just a Small Piece First
This may not work for everyone’s child, but it does work for mine. My toddler does this crazy thing where he suddenly “forgets” that he does, in fact, like and/or routinely eat a certain vegetable. For example, my son will eat peas normally. Peas just happen to be one of the few vegetables I don’t really have a problem with anymore. But here’s the thing, he always forgets he likes them. So when they are left on his plate at the end of dinner and he refuses to eat a spoonful, I ask him to just eat one pea. “Just taste one pea for mommy and then you will like it”. This is a household saying that my son hears very often and he is very aware of it and has come to expect it. That’s the key. While this is happening I’m getting the next spoonful ready and he tends to have no problems finishing the rest. I don’t know if he is reminded that he likes it or if he is willing to finish because he already started with the first pea and it wasn’t as bad as expected. It makes my no difference. If it works, then it works!
5.Try Numerous Types of Veggies and Give Them Choices
My son used to eat green beans like they were his favorite food, now he’s not quite so in love with them. The veggies that he likes right now includes corn, carrots, and a few others. My point here is that toddlers get tired of things and have food phases just like adults. I know I can personally eat a food over and over again for months, but then I won’t want it again for many more months. So a great habit to practice is switching veggies and allowing your toddler to “explore”. You never know what they will gravitate towards.
Often times, I will put two veggies on the dinner plate. If I can get him to eat one of the them, then score one for mommy!
My toddler loves colorful, singing, rhyming, toddler videos. I’m willing to bet your toddler does as well. With one search you can find numerous videos that promote healthy eating. If you take note of what’s being said you are then able to piggy back off the video and reinforce what they saw online once you are at the dinner table. It’s amazing how hearing something from another source can change your toddler’s whole perspective. Give it a try, it actually works! Here is a great example!
This one is pretty self explanatory and can be a great snack a few hours before dinner. Kids love sweet things and smoothies happen to be one of them. Kale, spinach, broccoli, and many other veggies can virtually go unnoticed in a “fruit” smoothie. If you haven’t already noticed, I love Pinterest. I know for a fact that you can find loads of great kid-friendly smoothies recipes with one quick search. The great thing is that you can also find pre-made smoothies in the grocery stores as well. In my opinion this is more of a temporary, or once in a while fix, but the most important thing is that your tot is getting what he or she needs.
8.Awesome Veggie Store Finds: Broccoli and Cheese Tots!
So these are yummy and they are in the Walmart frozen vegetables section. Green Giant Tots are a staple in my house now and I buy two bags every time I go to Walmart! I buy the ones with cheese and broccoli, but the cauliflower tots are tasty as well! Cauliflower has so many nutritional benefits. You can also order another brand of veggie tots from Amazon.
9.Make Sure Your Little One is Hungry, No Drinks Right Before Meals
There is nothing that can put an abrupt stop to happy dinner eating than a “falsely full” toddler. I call it falsely full because when they are filled up with beverages they have just enough room for snacks and the food they love, but when it comes to anything else, it just isn’t happening! If you want your toddler to try some veggies, save the beverage for just after the meal or at least an hour prior.
10.Alternatives: Sweet Potatoes, Etc.
So technically these awesome orange potatoes don’t qualify as veggies, but here’s the thing: They are chock-full of nutrients. You can find them in the produce section in a microwaveable bag or you can bake them for about an hour and cut them in cubes for your tot (Shown in the picture to your right). With a lightly sweet taste, they are sure to be a staple in your household. Some other alternatives are fruit and veggie applesauce, fruit and veggie juice, and even spaghetti usually has a serving of tomato! Ha!
Want more tips? Check out the video below!
Also check out what some other professionals have to say on this topic as well Here!
So there you have it readers, give some of these tips a try and let me know how they work for you in the comment section below! If you have other tips of your own, please share below as well!