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How to Get Your Toddler, Preschooler or Picky Eater to Eat Vegetables

When I ask my readers what their biggest struggle is in helping their kids eat a healthy diet, there is one question that stands out. How do I get my toddler to eat vegetables? Especially when you have a toddler who won’t eat.

I have good news for you. And bad.

Let’s start with the bad news.

A toddler eating broccoli. #parenting #parents #parenthood #parentlife #toddlers #kids #pickyeater #fussytoddler #fussyeaters #parents #parenthood #parentlife #lifewithkids

You Can’t Force Your Kids to Like Vegetables

I know you were hoping for a magic cure, some secret words that you could whisper and suddenly your toddlers would be reaching for the carrots, peeler in hand, asking how to prepare them and telling you how delicious they are.

If only I had such a magic formula!

But the truth is you can’t force kids to like things, not even vegetables that are good for you.

In fact, forcing them to try them is not recommended either.

But don’t despair! There is good news.

There are lots of things that you CAN do that will encourage your kids to try and like vegetables.

Related: How to Introduce New Foods to a Fussy Eater

A girl smiling while eating baby carrots. #parenting #parents #parenthood #parentlife #toddlers #kids #pickyeater #fussytoddler #fussyeaters #parents #parenthood #parentlife #lifewithkids

Most People Don’t Eat Enough Vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, you can’t really have too many. Most people don’t eat enough and most people don’t even realise that they don’t eat enough.

We’re aiming for half of what we eat to be fruit and vegetables. Ideally more vegetables that fruit.

Another way of putting it is that for every mouthful of protein or carbohydrate you should be eating one mouthful of fruit or vegetables.

Tips to Help Your Kids Eat Vegetables

  1. Variety. Don’t stick to just carrots! Check out the great list below. The more variety you present them with the better.
  2. Raw or cooked is fine. It doesn’t matter how you kids eat vegetables. Some like pumpkin or eggplant (aubergine) do need to be cooked.
  3. Cook them gently. If you are going to cook them, don’t over cook them. If you over cook them, they won’t be appealing and they also loose their vitamin C.
  4. Make life easy! I love to steam our vegetables. I chop them up, chuck them in. That’s it. Blanching is also easy. Just put them in boiling water for a few minutes (not as long as if you were actually boiling them.) Roasting is another really easy and tasty way to cook vegetables.
  5. Cook too many. Cook more than you think you need. Either they’ll get eaten up, which is great. Or you’ll have them for left overs. You can add them to a packed lunch, or turn them into a salad.
  6. Buy good quality vegetables. If you buy tasty vegetables, they are more likely to be eaten. Which do you prefer? A sweet, juicy ripe tomato. It’s glowing red with the warmth of summer and it’s scent fills your nostrils. Or a pale, watery, tasteless specimen that smells and tastes of nothing.
  7. Keep it simple. That juicy ripe tomato doesn’t really need much to sell it. But add a splash of good quality olive oil, a shake of pepper and some fresh green basil leaves (if you have them, or parsley if you don’t.) Suddenly you have an amazing “dish” that even kids will wolf down. (OK, in my sample size of 4, not all of them will, but SOME of them will.)
  8. Add them to their favourite dish. I don’t mean hide them (although that works from time to time if you’re worried about their diet.) I mean, those accepted dishes that they’ll eat without question. Spaghetti Bolognese is a great example. It doesn’t have to be just meat. When I make it, I add whatever veggies I can find, plus some meat. It’s at least 50% veggies and the kids love it. They know there are veggies but they love them.
  9. Add a favourite sauce. Ever heard of food pairing? If your kids loves cheese and you give them something new that is covered in cheese, they are more likely to try it and love it. You don’t have to go over board, but it’s useful to get them used to veggies.

Related: Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

It is tough teaching your kids to enjoy vegetables. Think of it as a work in progress. Be happy when they eat some vegetables but don’t worry when they don’t, especially the new ones.

Now, I just have to work out how to get them to eat (or not eat) them quietly. That, I believe is a topic for another day!

What's your favourite way to help your kids eat their vegetables? Please comment below and help other readers with your great tips.

Related: How to Stop Kids Preferring Snacks to Regular Meals

How do you get your toddler to eat vegetables? 41 different vegetables for toddlers and how to cook them. Sign up for free printable copy.

Related: When Picky Eating Becomes a Problem and What to Do About It

Pin It For Later

A girl eating a healthy meal consisting of various greens and tomatoes. #parenting #parents #parenthood #parentlife #toddlers #kids #pickyeater #fussytoddler #fussyeaters #parents #parenthood #parentlife #lifewithkids