When you were pregnant with your first child, you probably thought getting through labor and delivery would be one of the biggest hurdles of motherhood.
You had no idea the drama that would ensue over vegetables just a few years later.
If you’re in the midst of a constant veggie battle with your child, take a deep breath and a break from negotiating with your little one.
It’s not quick and it’s not always easy, but there is hope that your child will someday consume more than just chicken nuggets and french fries.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get your toddler to eat vegetables!
But remember, you’ve got to be ALL in for the long haul.
None of these tips offer a quick fix, but if you stick with it, you may just live to see your child become a plant lover…or at least someone who tolerates plants.
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How to Get Your Toddler to Eat Vegetables
1. Always Expose Your Kid to Veggies
You may feel like it’s a waste of time and food to offer your kids vegetables when you know they won’t eat them, but one of the best ways to get your kids used to veggies is to keep exposing them, meal after meal, snack after snack.
Experts say that kids often need to see a vegetable several times before they feel comfortable testing it out.
And maybe your toddler won’t ever try a particular vegetable, but when you keep serving a variety of veggies made in different ways, they’ll understand that the plants are here to stay.
Start small (like one or two bites) and try not to get pushy about the vegetables.
In this article, Sarah Remmer RD says, “In the meantime, it is important to continue to introduce (and re-introduce) vegetables again and again in a non-pressured and considerate way. When it comes to feeding, it’s important to maintain your parental responsibility of feeding, and let your kids maintain their responsibility of eating.”
2. Make it Fun
Okay, this might sound like a bit of a stretch, but you really can make eating veggies fun!
At least MORE fun than they might appear to kids.
If you made a game of it, do you think your toddler would try new vegetables?
Try setting up a fun taste test with various vegetables and dips to try.
You could even film the taste test to add more excitement!
3. Use Interactive Plates
If your child likes to play with their food then this may be a fun way to help encourage them to eat their vegetables at dinner!
Your toddler may find it fun to use the pusher to get their food onto their spoon!
4. Cut Veggies into Fun Shapes
My toddler loves telling me things that she knows.
And pointing out the shapes she knows is one of them!
Cutting their fruits and veggies in these fun and unique shapes may help them seem a little less intimidating and more desirable to eat.
You can buy a fruit and veggie cutter set here and use it when it comes time for dinner or a snack.
5. Try Plant Points
Have each family member set a goal for how many plants they will eat in a day.
You can choose to make these just veggies or include all sources of plants (fruits and vegetables).
The way it works is that each person gets one point for each plant they eat.
You might be surprised by how much fun your kids will have to try to earn their points!
You can do this in whatever way you think would work for your family, but you can read more about the Plant Points Concept here.
6. Get Creative
Your child may be more intrigued to eat something if they’ve seen it in a book or movie they’ve seen!
Like you could make green eggs and ham (like from Dr. Suess’s famous book, Green Eggs and Ham).
Or you could say you are serving them spaghetti that’s inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Or you could arrange their food to look like a familiar animal or object.
Such as creating a sun or a caterpillar with some pieces of food.
The possibilities are endless!
You just have to get a bit creative!
7. Involve Your Kids in the Shopping and Preparation
Kids love being able to participate in the same things that you do.
Give them the option to choose a veggie or two when you’re at the store.
When picking up various vegetables, explain how to find a good one and let them pick which one to purchase.
Just let them become more familiar with veggies so that they don’t seem so unfamiliar and weird to them.
Let your kiddo wash the veggies, even if that means you may have to do a second rinse when they’re not looking.
You could even get some kid-friendly knives like these here and let your kids help chop while you’re prepping dinner or snacks.
8. Sneak Veggies into Their Meals
It’s okay to be sneaky if you’re on a noble mission, right?
You can try adding veggies to meals your kids already love!
Chop up some mushrooms and mix them with your taco meat (they won’t be able to taste them!).
Or blend some veggies and add them to your spaghetti sauce or add a layer of chopped veggies to your lasagna.
Another option is making a smoothie or a popsicle out of some fruits and vegetables!
There are lots of ways to add veggies into your kids’ diet!
You can search online and see how you can add more plants to the meals your family is already familiar with.
9. Try Prepping Vegetables in Different Ways
Kids prefer vegetables in a variety of ways, just like we do as adults.
If you’ve offered your child cooked broccoli, but they didn’t love it, try it raw with some ranch to dip it in.
If they reject fresh bell peppers, try adding some grilled peppers to a fajita rice bowl or another type of meal.
Just because your toddler rejected vegetables cooked one way doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like it prepared differently.
Don’t give up!
Keep trying a variety of cooking methods to learn what they prefer.
10. Don’t Pick Fights About Food
It may feel impossible, but experts recommend not fighting or negotiating with your kids about food.
Jennifer Anderson, RD, suggests something essential to keep in mind to avoid fights and help keep in mind as you feed your kids.
“Parents are in charge of meal structure, and toddlers are in charge of their bodies.”
That means that parents are in charge of choosing what children eat and when, but the child is in charge of deciding whether they will eat something and how much they eat.
Anderson explains, “When you pressure a toddler, you get a battle, a tantrum, and a child who becomes more picky. It’s not going to give you what you were hoping for. Instead, give them a calm table with family, nutritious options, and a meal schedule so that they are showing up to the table hungry.”
Your child may choose not to eat a snack or part of a meal, but that’s okay.
Remember, exposure is still important!
Just try to stick to small portions when you’re introducing your child to something new.
11. Make Sure You’re Eating Your Veggies Too
Your kids are watching you.
Like, always watching.
You’ll have a hard time convincing them to eat veggies if you’re not doing it yourself.
Make vegetables a priority for your meals, too.
Try to serve veggies with as many meals as you can and talk about how you like them and what they taste like.
Have conversations about how they help various parts of your body.
When your kids see you eating vegetables, that’s even more exposure they’re getting, and they’ll also see that it’s important to you.
What are good vegetables for toddlers?
Though all vegetables are good and healthy for your toddler, they won’t like them all.
And you don’t want them associating all vegetables as yucky.
So to start off the veggie train right, by giving them the most likable vegetables!
Here are some of them below:
- Bell Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
Try incorporating one of these into mealtime either served on their own, blended into a sauce, or mixed in with a dish!
How many servings of vegetables should a toddler eat per day?
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) recommends, that children between the ages of 2-4 eat about 1-2 cups of vegetables per day.
Now you’re probably thinking, how will I get my toddler to eat 2 CUPS of vegetables?!
Don’t stress mama!
Just slowly work your way to adding more and more vegetables to their diet!
What are the healthiest snacks for toddlers?
Snack time is a great way to try and incorporate a veggie or 2!
I know it’s easy to grab crackers or some kind of other sugary food (especially if you’re taking care of more than more kids) at a moment’s notice, but you can make healthy snacks that are also QUICK and EASY!
Here are some examples of some yummy veggie snacks for toddles:
- Avocado Toast
- Strips of Bell Pepper with Guacamole
- Thin Carrots Sticks or Shreds
- Cucumber Slices
Prepare these on how well your child eats and chews by either doing shreds, sticks, or cubes.
Preparing your kid’s food so it’s safe for them to eat is always a #1 priority.
Every child is different so be sure to cut veggies into the appropriate size for your child and to cook it as needed.
This could be in sticks, shreds, or purees depending on the child.
HealthyChildren.org says that raw vegetables are considered choking hazards for toddlers who are under the age of 4.
So be sure to follow your doctor’s or dietitians recommendations.
When it comes to trying to get your toddler to eat veggies you have to be patient.
Toddlers like to be in control of themselves and what goes into their body so never fight or push it.
Just be consistent and always offer and expose them to vegetables.
Being creative and giving them vegetables in other ways can help with getting your toddler to eat (or at least try) vegetables!
Making vegetables a part of your toddler’s life can definitely be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
Remember, don’t give up even if your toddler often rejects vegetables.
The more consistent you are, the more likely you’ll see success with your efforts!
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(Please keep in mind that I am not a dietitian, pediatrician, or doctor of any kind. I am just a Mom who is going off of her own experience and research. You can read my full disclaimer policy here.)
What was the most helpful tip for getting your toddler to eat vegetables? Do you have any other ways that you got your toddler to eat vegetables? Tell me below in the comments! And if you liked this post, give it a share! Thanks!