Vegetables are an important part of our diet, but they aren’t always the most appealing to toddlers. Many parents wonder how to get their toddlers to eat vegetables because they are concerned about their health. Many people are unaware that health experts recommend eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day. For many families, achieving this goal is a difficult task. The best way is to set an example by eating your vegetables, but this isn’t always possible. You may need to be more inventive at times, such as by using a fun recipe or cleverly concealing the vegetables.
It can be difficult to get your toddler to eat vegetables but there are tips for preparing healthy meals for your toddlers. Some children readily accept new foods and vegetables, while others may require more exposure or different preparations. Vegetables not only provide important nutrients for growth and development, but they can also help your children grow into more well-rounded eaters in the future.
How to Encourage Toddlers to Eat Vegetables
1. Include your child in the food preparation.
The more vegetables you expose your child to, the more enthusiastic she will be about them. When you’re out shopping for vegetables, growing them in the garden, washing them in the kitchen sink, or sprinkling them on salads and different types of pasta, enlist her help.
2. Make Kid-Friendly Meals With Veggie Purées.
Puréed vegetables are simple to incorporate into everyday meals. For example, add puréed cauliflower or yellow squash to mac ‘n cheese or pizza sauces, or sandwich it between layers of lasagna.
3. Vegetables Can Set A Good Example.
Because your child picks up on your eating habits, the best way to encourage them to eat vegetables is for them to see you eating and enjoying them. Family meals are an excellent opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating habits, including the consumption of vegetables. Stir-fries, curries, roasts, and various pasta dishes all taste better with more vegetables. A salad bowl on the side is also a quick and tasty option. If your child sees you and his or her siblings eating vegetables, he or she will most likely want to do the same.
4. Make Sweet Options.
We often use a lot of butter when baking cookies. You can, however, replace some of this with white-bean puree to make the dough healthier. Bananas are also a good substitute because they allow you to cut down on the sugar in your recipe. Add a package of pureed spinach to the brownie batter. You can also try adding beets, carrots, or squash in yellow to a chocolate cake. Experiment with pumpkin pancakes in the fall. However, remember to match the colors — all light vegetables go with light-colored cakes.
5. Make Veggie Patties.
Burgers can be replaced with veggie burgers made partially with diced vegetables, which count as a vegetable. You could also shred zucchini, beets, or carrots and use them in meat loaves, meatballs, or burgers.
6. Trade Pasta For Vegetables.
Serve spaghetti squash instead of noodles with a healthy sauce on top, this will be a healthy alternative to pasta. You can also make zucchini, cucumber, beet, or sweet potato noodles if you have a spiralizer.
7. Trick Out Your Tacos.
Substitute packaged veggie crumbles for taco meat. Your entire family might not notice the difference.
8. Bury Veggies in Baked Goods.
You can sneak a bushel of veggies into sweets with good results: replace some of the butter in cookie recipes with white bean purée; put in the oven a package of puréed frozen spinach into brownie mix; add cut-up zucchini or carrots to sweet muffins and bread; mix beets in chocolate cake or puréed carrots and squash in yellow cakes; or whisk pumpkin into pancake batter.
9. Continue to Experiment With Vegetables.
When children first try a vegetable, it’s common for them to say they don’t like it. If your child dislikes a particular vegetable, combine small amounts of it with another healthy food that your child enjoys. Continue to encourage your child to try different vegetables. Your child will most likely change his or her mind about vegetables in the future. Some kids need to try a new food up to ten times before accepting it, and then another ten times before deciding they like it.
10. When your child tries to eat vegetables, praise them.
If you compliment your child every time they eat or try a vegetable, they are more likely to do so again. When you tell your child exactly what they did well, praise works best. However, avoid making praise the centerpiece of the meal. You want to encourage your child to eat vegetables because he or she enjoys them, not because you want to give them to them.
If you punish your child for not eating vegetables, vegetables may become a negative experience for your child. If your child refuses to eat their vegetables, don’t make a big deal out of it; simply try again later. After about 20 minutes, or when everyone else has finished eating, remove your child’s meal.
11. As a snack, serve vegetables.
Snacks made from vegetables are delicious. Your child will be more likely to choose vegetables when hungry if you stock up on vegetables for snacks and limit unhealthy snacks in your home.
Snacks Made of Vegetables:
- Keep a canister of chopped vegetables in the fridge, such as cucumber, carrots, or capsicum. Another option is a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the bench.
- Serve frozen baby peas to older children, but keep in mind that younger children may choke on them.
- Serve with a dip, natural yogurt, cheese, or whole-grain pita bread.
12. Choose vegetables for their variety, flavor, and fun.
Choose vegetables in a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and flavors; the more variety there is, the more likely your child will find something they like to eat. When you serve new vegetables alongside foods your child enjoys, the meal’s main focus is not on the new vegetables. Remember that taste is important. Try roasting vegetables with fresh herbs and lemon juice, or using finely sliced broccoli in a stir-fry or on a pizza. This is more likely to appeal to your child than large steamed vegetables. Vegetables can also be entertaining, especially for younger children. You can make a vegetable face with a grated carrot for hair, cherry tomatoes for eyes, a bean for a nose, and capsicum strips for a mouth for a snack plate.
13. Other ways to incorporate vegetables into meals.
In the short term, you can hide vegetables in foods your child already enjoys. Pureed or grated vegetables, for example, could be used in pasta sauces or soups. This will not change your child’s behavior or attitude toward vegetables, so it’s also important to give your child vegetables in their natural state regularly. This gives your child the opportunity to become acquainted with and appreciate different tastes and textures.