Everyone wants their children to be healthy and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is an important element of supporting their health. However, many parents find that they have picky eaters and they just don’t know how to go about getting toddlers to eat vegetables. Well, today I have partnered with Beth Dunlap, a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is a wife and mother of 2 boys and she developing Kiwi the Koala Bear to teach young children how to fuel their bodies well with healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables.
A Tale as Old as Time… The Question many parents have wondered … “How to get toddlers to eat vegetables?”
A tale as old as time or at least as long as macaroni and cheese competed with vegetables for plate space. No, I’m not talking about Beauty and the Beast but the age-old question of “How to get toddlers to eat vegetables?” Parenting toddlers isn’t always easy and many parents have experienced the common mealtime dilemma of how to deal with picky eaters.
So what’s the secret? What’s the magic formula that will unlock the answer to this age-old question? First, know that it is not your job to “get your child to eat their vegetables”. That’s their job. Eating is similar to sleeping. While we can provide a bedtime routine that will help our child sleep, we cannot actually be the ones to make them fall asleep. They do that on their own.
As parents we are responsible for bringing the veggies to the table and we can set a good example by eating our veggies, but let your child make the decision about eating it. I know it’s really hard to not make comments. Believe me, I have failed at times but the less pressure the better. In our family the trick of trying at least one bite worked well but if you have a child that will dig in their heals even further, just keep exposing them to a variety of healthy foods for picky eaters. They are learning what a well-balanced meal looks like even when they are not eating it.
How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables And Fruits:
1. Rewind your day.
Say you’re serving an amazing variety of veggies at dinner but no one touches them. What happened before dinner? Was there any snacking close to dinner time? Was there a toddler cruising the house with a baggie full of snack foods? If so, they may already be full! Be careful not to allow snacking too close to meal time. That is an important tip for how to get toddlers to eat vegetables.
2. Where are you eating?
Come together as a family and eat at a table. No TV, no devices, just family, meal, connecting and laughing. Difficult to do in a fast-paced world but totally worth it! One of the benefits of eating together as family is that your kids get to see you eating your veggies and modeling healthy eating.
3. Routine meals and snack times.
Another helpful tip in how to get toddlers to eat vegetables is to keep your toddler feeding schedule consistent so your child knows when it’s time to eat and when it’s not.
4. Serve familiar foods & serve veggies as an appetizer.
Keep several familiar go-to foods that are family favorites on the table while introducing new foods. If your hungry kids keep circling the kitchen for food, provide an appetizer plate with veggies and they will often munch away while waiting for dinner.
5. No pressure.
Remember your job is to determine the menu and provide the food. It is your child’s job to determine what and how much of the food to eat. Please keep to your planned menu and leave the short-order cooking to the restaurants!
6. Beth’s secret for how to get toddlers to eat vegetables.
When Beth Dunlap’s kids were younger, she met with the same veggie resistance that many parents experience. When she started helping her kids make a connection between the fruits and vegetables she served and how exactly it was helping their body grow and be healthy, they became more open to trying new vegetables.
7. Try A Veggie Game
You can try making veggies fun by doing a blind taste test. Work with your kids to cut up and prepare veggies in containers and talk about how each one is healthy for your body. Then let them do a taste taste and they will be eating while they try to identify the flavors. Sometimes just getting past the hump of them trying the vegetable a few times will make it more familiar and acceptable to them.
Beth took her secret of helping her kids make a connection between eating vegetables and how good that was for their growing bodies and turned it into a fun, playful game that all parents can do with their kids. It is a great way to get toddlers to eat vegetables of their own accord and to teach toddlers to love healthy foods.
Which of these tips for how to get toddlers to eat vegetables was new to you? I hope you find it easier now to serve healthy food for your picky eater and experience success!