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Top tips for getting your child to eat vegetables

Two toddlers playing with a ball.

Showcase vegetables

Keep vegetables ready to eat and in the refrigerator. Put them at eye level, so they are easy to see and grab. Set a bowl of pea pods, baby carrots, grape tomatoes or broccoli florets on a table near the children. They will be gone before you know it!

 

Helpful hint – Kids will be more likely to eat vegetables if they see their parents eating vegetables.

 

Make vegetables your own

Serve vegetables different ways. Some kids like vegetables fresh and crunchy. Others like them lightly steamed.

 

Helpful hint – Steamed and cooked vegetables may be better for young children. They are easier to chew and less of a choking hazard.

 

Grow vegetables

Give your child a small area in the yard. Let them choose which vegetables to plant. Kids take pride in the foods they grow and will enjoy eating them too! This is a great activity for the whole family to enjoy. Each person can have their own space in the garden.A big carrot.

 

Helpful hint – If you don’t have a yard for a small garden, try container gardening. Use the bottom of a milk carton with small holes for drainage. Fill with dirt, a vegetable plant, water and add sunshine!

 

Read about vegetables

There are a lot of fun children’s books with an “eating vegetables” theme. Children have fun hearing and reading these stories. They hear positive messages about eating vegetables. Look for the vegetables at the grocery store or grow them in your garden. Then have them for snacks and with meals.

 

Books to look for at the library:

“I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato”
by Lauren Child

 

“Rabbit Food”
by Susanna Gretz

 

“The Ugly Vegetables”
by Grace Lin

 

Try, Try Again

Keep offering vegetables to your kids, even if they have not eaten them in the past. Many kids have to see a new food 10 to 12 times or more before they are brave enough to try it.A big bell pepper.

 

Helpful hint – Do not force children to eat vegetables. When you force a “bite” or two, your child may become more resistant. Just keep serving vegetables and set a good example by eating them yourself.

 

Easy vegetable recipes:

  • Toss vegetables with cooked pasta and low-fat Italian dressing.
  • Scoop salsa with cucumber or zucchini slices.
  • Dip vegetables in low-fat honey mustard.

 

Low-fat Honey Mustard Recipe

¼ cup fat -free plain yogurt
¼ cup low-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons spicy mustard
Mix all ingredient together. Store in a covered container close to the vegetables.

 

Reviewed by: Jenni Kinsey, MS, RD, LD & Hasina Rakotomanana, MS.

 

References:

Evers C. Five “Peas” to Raising a Veggie-Loving Child. Feeding Kids Newsletter. 2004;50:1-2.

 

Deana Hildebrand, PhD., RD,LD, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist

 

Christine Walters, RDN, LD, MS, Extension Program Assistant
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Nutritional Sciences Department, Oklahoma State University

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