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10 Tips on How To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables

Updated on April 15, 2017

When your kids won't eat their vegetables

If you are having trouble getting kids to eat vegetables, help is at hand! Although my kids didn't always eat all their vegetables when they were little, they ate enough to have a healthy diet and to get the nutrients they needed. These ten tips for getting kids to eat their vegetables all worked for us so they may work for you too!

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How to get kids to eat vegetables

1) Eat yours.

It is amazing how many parents say they can’t get their kids to eat vegetables, and it then turns out that at least one parent doesn’t either eat them either. Children follow us, so lead them where you’d like them to go. The more we behave as if it’s normal to eat vegetables, the more our children are likely to eat them. For that reason, eat meals with your children whenever possible. If you find it hard to eat vegetables, then try these tips for yourself too!

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2) Don’t tell people that your child “doesn’t like vegetables.”

Children form identities based on what adults say about them, so if they hear often enough that they don’t like vegetables, then they will believe it. There are hundreds, possibly even thousands, of different vegetables in this world, and among those there will be some your child likes.

3) Do help you child to recognise the variety of vegetables and their own preferences.

You could say, “Johnny isn’t too keen on avocados at the moment. He prefers crisp vegetables such as raw peppers or carrots.”

This helps your child to understand the reason why they like certain vegetables, and could encourage them to try others that are similar. It also lets him know that you don’t see his dislike of avocados as permanent. As many of us do sometimes go off certain foods for a while, you could even talk to him about that, especially if you’ve had the experience. There was a while when the texture of zucchini made me feel nauseous even though I usually liked them, so I could understand when one of my daughters went off them for a while. We found ways to cook them that she enjoyed.

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4) Do present the vegetables attractively.

That way your child gets a visual delight and looks forward to eating them. This is easy if you include a mixture of colours, and by doing that you can be sure your child is getting the variety of nutrients needed. This could be a simple as chopping carrots, bell peppers and cucumber into sticks and serving with a dip, or you could arrange your child’s food into a picture, including the vegetables. When my children were little they used to love it when they had “trees” to eat (broccoli.) Often children enjoy helping arrange the salad, so include them in the preparation too.

5) Give them mash.

Here are a few varieties my children love:

  • celeriac and sweet potato,
  • parsnip and potatoes,
  • parsnip and sweet potato.

I’ve mashed broccoli with sweet potato when they went though a phase of not being keen on it, and it went down fine. Yes, there’s a pattern here and it’s sweet potato! But experiment and find variations that your children love.

Fred MRS. FOOD FACE Kids' Ceramic Dinner Plate
Fred MRS. FOOD FACE Kids' Ceramic Dinner Plate

Encourage your kids to enjoy meals with these fun plates.

 

6) Let them play with their food.

When they were little my children loved arranging their own pictures. They also loved (and one of them still does) mashing their mash still further with a fork to make it into a newly ploughed field. This goes well with the broccoli trees above.

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7) Give them soup.

Kids will often eat many vegetables as soup that they won’t any other way.

8) Puree.

Puree soup or pasta sauces. Broccoli (again) is great when pureed into soup, as are most other vegetables. Add red or green lentils and you’ve got a wholesome meal.Or you can puree a pasta sauce. Make a tomato or spinach, or a use mixture of vegetables. Then puree, mix the pasta in and watch them devour it. Be careful to choose vegetables of the same colour group – a mix of red and green vegetables does not look appetising when pureed!

9) Mix vegetables in with other food.

This could mean making a stew or casserole or it could be as simple as adding sweetcorn and peas to baked beans. (Baked beans also count as a vegetable!) Some children, however don’t like their food mixed together, which brings me to the last tip:


Be Flexible

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10) Be flexible.

If your three-year-old objects to her carrot sticks touching her mashed potatoes, then keep them separate. One of my daughters likes her soup chunky, the other likes it smooth – so after I’ve served the chunky soup I get out the hand-blender and puree up the rest. One of my daughters hates raw tomatoes, but happily eats them cooked, so she gets hers grilled.

And finally, a bonus tip:

most likely you will have read and heard a hundred times, or more, that you should relax about mealtimes if you want your child to eat.

While it is surely true that the more relaxed we are, the more relaxed our children will be, it’s also very hard for parents to relax on demand while simultaneously worrying about their children’s health. So my advice to you is simply to notice if you are criticising yourself for your child not eating vegetables. Then reassure yourself that you are doing the best you can right now, and that every single parent in this world has at some time or other had some anxiety about their child – even those who seem to get everything perfect. You are reading this because you care about your children, because you love them. So give yourself some love too. You deserve it.

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    • Melovy profile image
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      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Great alcosin! Do let me know how it goes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm going to try some of these techniques on me, since I don't like vegetables. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      HI Editorsupremo

      Cheese sauce on veggies to get kids to eat them seems to a theme as a few people have mentioned it, but my kids have never taken to it. However they do like filo pastry so I might try your idea - not because I need to persuade them to eat veggies nowadays, but because it sounds tasty!

      Thanks for your comment.

    • editorsupremo profile image

      editorsupremo 5 years ago from London, England

      You are so right, it is so hard to ge the kids to eat their veggies. I would guess most mothers go through the tantrums of 'I don't like carrots!' When my children were little I used to steam the vegetables and layer them on a double sheet of filo pastry and cover with a cheese sauce. They lapped it up!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Cardelean

      Glad you liked the tips and glad to hear your kids make pictures with their veggies. We probably all should do it, and make meals a great big playtime. There’s a lot we can learn from kids.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      My kids love making pictures and faces with their veggies. All of these are great tips and yes parents need to eat their veggies too!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Phoebe,

      I’m glad you found this hub awesome. Thanks for your comment and I wish you and your little lots of happy meals!

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 5 years ago

      This hub is awesome! My little guy is a picky eater, so I tend to do the "airplane" trick to try to get him to eat them... or I will crush up animal crackers onto the baby food and he'll eat them that way.

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi daleamy,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found this useful, and hope your kids enjoy their veggies from now on!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi K9keystrokes,

      I do think so many vegetables are beautiful - it’s strange really that they have such a bad press, since mostly people love beautiful things! I’m glad you enjoyed the picture and the hub. Thanks for your comment.

    • daleamy profile image

      daleamy 5 years ago from Spring Hill, TN

      Great article! I love your pictures, and your advice is very good. I'm going to remember these things the next time my kids object to their veggies!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      To begin with, WOW! How beautiful is your vegetable platter! Wonderful ideas! Quite a refreshing look at how to get kids to eat those veggies!

      HubHugs~

      K9

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Happyboomernurse,

      Good to see you, and glad you think this is useful. I had fun arranged that salad, believe me. The artist in me mainly gets satisfied by writing these days, but love seeing beautiful colours arranged together.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Great tips for parents, grandparents and those who take care of or work with children.

      I loved the way you arranged the salad vegetables on the plate!

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi CloudExplorer,

      Thanks for your comment and the vote up etc.

      I always buy organic, and did think about putting a bit about organic foods into this, but didn’t. Thanks for bringing it up! I definitely recommend organic.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      I love this hub in every way, you pointed out some truly cool ways to get children involved in eating veggies, and all I can add to it is, maybe try shopping for organic veggies if you can at places like Trader Joes or Whole Foods, food stores.

      Voted up for awesome, useful, and interesting. Nice job!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      HI Ardie,

      Shredding veggies is also a great way to mix them in. My kids even just liked shredded raw vegetables. I remember them before my second was even two devouring cabbage and carrots that way. Thanks for your comment, you’ve actually given me some more ideas for the current hub I’m working on!

      Hi MsDora, thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good ideas. The grated cheese or cheese sauce on the vegetables worked for me. Yum!Yum!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      Mixing vegetables with other food is a great idea. I have used that trick for my own daughter and it works wonders!! I will use our cheese shredder to shred veggies into ground beef for meatloaf or into mashed pots :) AND number one is great too...if kids see you eating veggies they will just think its natural to eat them also. great hub!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Simone,

      Sounds like you have a smart mother! Thanks for your comment, and glad you liked the hub.

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi stephhicks,

      Thanks for your comment - and for agreeing with me! Hummus is one of our favourite dips too. Cheese sauce for broccoli is great, though my kids don’t like it, so rarely cook it.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      These are REALLY smart tips. I pretty much refused everything slightly resembling a plant as a child, but my mother managed to get me to eat a bunch of vegetables via purees. I love your other suggestions, too! So smart.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Super hubs and I agree with all your tips to get kids to eat their veggies. Especially the ones about modeling the right behavior and watching what you say about your child's eating preferences. We also allow our kids to dip veggies in ranch dressing (OK) or hummus (healthier). When I was growing up, mom always made a cheese sauce for broccoli too. Rated up! Steph

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Tammy,

      A 2 1/2 year old that won’t eat cake or ice-cream! How lucky are you! My older daughter didn’t like ice-cream till she was 3 or four, and people kept trying to persuade her to eat it, as if it was a problem, whereas I was delighted she didn’t have a sweet tooth.

      Green beans, corn and squash sound like a good mix of colors, your daughter is a sensible girl!

      Thanks for your comment, and glad you like the hub.

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi RealHousewife,

      I think you make a great point - if we just expect that our children will eat veg, that it’s an ordinary thing to do, then they respond to that. And I’d believe how many kids come to your house and don’t eat them, because I’ve had the same, even with things I thought every child loved, like sweetcorn.

      Thanks for you comment, and keep on making those big yukky dinners!

    • Melovy profile image
      Author

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Phdast7, thanks for your comment, glad you found it useful.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hubs and suggestions I can use. My older kids are picky about vegetables, but my 2 1/2 year old daughter wants nothing but vegatables. She is picky in a different way. If it were up to her she would eat green beans, corn and squash for every meal. She will not eat cake, ice cream or desert. How lucky is that! I love hubs with great suggestions for moms. Well done!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Melovy this is great advice! Especially that parents have to eat them too:) Lead by example! lol My kids are pretty good...but I just started them out eating it and it wasn't weird. You would not believe how many children have come over for dinner and do not eat ANY vegetables! One girl told everyone that "I make a big yukky dinner every night:) ! hahaha! I can try a few of your ideas too!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great ideas. Wish I had had this info when my kids were little. But...there are always the grandkids. :)