When people see my toddler eating broccoli, they stare in disbelief. “How do you do that!?” they all ask. From the time she started eating solid foods, I tried to limit her sweets until she had a strong palate for vegetables established. I was a child who lived off carbs for YEARS. I was always sick and I did not want my child to have the same food aversions I had as a child.
It was not until her first birthday that she had cake, and not until she was 14 months that she tried french fries. She still only has sweets on special occasions because I feel that just as adults like a sweet treat, so do children.
Here are 10 tips and tricks I did to get my child to eat more fruits and veggies:
- Start them young. Once you begin introducing junk foods, it is hard to turn back. Always start off by offering fruits as a sweet snack.
- If your child refuses, you can always hide veggies in their foods. One way is to add carrots to tomato sauce when you use it on pasta.
- If your child is a carb junkie: try steaming up some baby carrots. They resemble french fries and are sweet at the same time. (Plus loaded with Vitamin A!)
- Don’t give in. When my toddler refuses to eat dinner and then asks me for cookies, I leave a bowl of carrots or broccoli in front of her. She get’s upset at first, but I always catch her sneaking the veggies when I’m not looking. If she finishes the entire bowl, I will reward her with that cookie.
- Make veggies fun! I tell my toddler that broccoli is a tree and that sugar snap peas have baby beans in them. She loves anything with the word “Baby” in it, so this works for us.
- I buy frozen organic veggies and always have them on hand. For car rides I place peas in a zip lock bag for her and she noshes on them. They are very healthy and she thinks they are just another treat – like candy.
- If you are great with a pairing knife, try creating art with veggies. Carve them up into fun shapes, or make stick figures out of string beans. Some people don’t like playing with food – I think it is an important part of food exploration in children.
- Have your child help you clean and peel veggies. If they are too young, maybe they can help you rinse them and place them in a pot if you are cooking them. By keeping them active in preparing their own food, it makes them want to try it!
- Does your child like juice? Try making your own juice with a juicer and add veggies. They won’t even know they are in there when you mix it with fresh fruit!
- Don’t force your child to eat veggies. This causes unnecessary stress. Let choosing veggies be on their terms. Encourage them by using the tips above, but never force feed them. And, as with anything else – bribery might work!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.