10 Tips on How to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables
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!
Get that Kid to Eat Veggies!
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. 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. “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. 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. 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. 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!
The cheese method works very well actually. Bake them with some potatoes and broccoli and the kids are in. I am starting to add some carrot and mushroom – they like that too.
The other that seem to be working is smoothies, but they tend to overindulge themselves and not want to take proper meals after that because their tummy is too full.
I agree about the smoothies. That’s more of a snack that should be a few hours before dinner but still a great way to include veggies!
Hi, Kayla! Thanks for sharing these great tips! I am sure that your article will be useful for many people.
I don’t remember if I had a problem with eating vegetables when I was a child. Right now I love vegetables, especially, broccoli. 🙂
Thank you for writing this article!
It would be awesome if we all started out that way! haha
Ah, the battle begins, toddlers and veggies. My son used to love veggies when he was an infant, we steamed them and even pureed them. Then he became a toddler, and the same things he would eat as an infant, he wouldn’t touch. I love the idea of cheese, as cheese makes everything better! You have some great ideas here, to make sure they are good and hungry before you have them eat veggies, and to incorporate them into a smoothie. Even as an adult, I struggle to eat enough veggies, so I put them in my smoothie. I agree though, proper seasoning and just getting them to try a small bit first are great ideas. Thanks for sharing!
This happened to meee!!! lol. Infants turn into non eating toddlers 🙂 BTW I do the smoothies too 😉
I have felt this struggle to my friend, so much time spent at the dinner table trying to get the kids to eat. My 2 daughters are 5 and 7 now and are much better but some days just decide that they’re not hungry and they’re not gonna eat. To get them to try new foods we used a reward chart as a way to encourage them to eat their veggies. They would earn a star for trying a new food that they hadn’t tried before and also if they would eat all of the veggies the would earn another. Of course they didn’t like everything but it was a way to get them to try and I have found great success in this method. Thanks for the great tips and with another little one on the way now, I will be sure to try some of these.
Reward chart! I like it 🙂 Awesome tip. We do it for potty, why not veggies right? 🙂 And congratulations on your new addition coming!
I found your article quite amusing. Having no children of my own, I take joy in being around my friends children, and being able to get them to do things that there parents struggle with. And a big one is getting them to eat their veggies!
I seem to have much more luck in getting the kids to chow down, but am sure it is attributed to my approach and having me as a novelty at meal time. I seem to have no problem in getting plates cleared, mush to the dismay of mom and dad.
I do know how important this subject is, and wish I could be there to help at every meal. But am quite sure at that point the novelty will have worn off, and I would struggle just as bad.
You are so right lol. Children love to listen to everyone other than their parents. I touched on it in my last point!if the time comes for you i hope you will be more equipped than us poor saps!
Great article with handy ideas. I have the opposite problem where my child loves vegetables of almost any kind but its like pulling teeth to get her to eat any meat not called BACON! Haha.
Ha! That’s hilarious. It’s always something but I would love the fact that veggies are easy!
Smoothies is the only way I get my toddlers to eat veggies. I am always blending up fruits and veggies with almond milk and yogart every day. They do love it. But I have not tried the veggie tots. I will try that next. Thanks!
They are so good. Make sure you get the ones with broccoli AND cheese!
I know many moms who struggle when they want to prepare something healthy for their kids to eat. Smoothies are the perfect solution – I do agree.
I need to mention one thing. Sometimes we don’t realize that as parents, we are causing the problem and it’s not always the kid who’s such a “picky eater”.
I know a parent whose daughter refused to eat not only veggies but fruit as well! You know what was the issue? She was drinking some sort of fruit juice (sweetened one) – one of these kinds where the amount of sugar is on the same level as in Coca-cola drink. So she provided so many calories for her little body she didn’t want to eat solid foods at all.
Sometimes we simply make a mistake when we are introducing solid foods to our baby. That’s how it starts – baby dosn’t want to eat potato or carrots so we introduce fruits instead – baby gets used to the sweet flavour and we give up at some point as we fail each time we try to introduce another vegetable…
Very important thing to remember – let your kid have a choice.
I love veggies and fruit. I am into healthy diet… but no one will force me to eat Brussels sprout – I can’t even stand its smell. The same goes for kids – they have got the right to say – “I won’t eat this, I don’t like the taste of it” – of course, as long as they WILL give it a try
haha! Thanks for that great comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly about filling our kids up with juice and getting them used to sweets. That is a huge no-no for me.
Awesome advice and suggestions. Such a clever how-to way! Loved them all but my particular favorite is to expose a toddler to the tv screen where he can be encouraged to eat veggies.
Even at this age I think it could be the same story. Mom or dad that veggies are good to eat and it goes in one ear and out of the other, but let a favorite tv character say exactly the same thing, and that does the trick !
It’s sooo funny how that works right?!?! LOL
I would say throwing it all into a blender and blending them together would definitely get them to eat it.
Yup that’s one way! lol