If you have ever been at the table when a toddler is eating, you will know that vegetables are NOT their most favourite food! It is an age-old problem for parents – how do you get a toddler to eat their veggies?
Being a toddler they won’t just eat what you want them to – no matter how hard you beg. So finding ways to make your toddler enjoy veggies, while also getting them to eat some (with or without them knowing) can be tricky. No one wants meal time to be a battleground.
Although sometimes you might need to sneak vegetables into their meals, it is also a good idea to always have some vegetables on the plate. Children need to see the vegetables so they know what they are. They need to know what carrot or broccoli looks like – the more they see it, the less afraid they will be of them.
So here are my 7 top tips for getting your toddler to eat vegetables:
- Hide them: vegetables can be easily hidden in foods. Dishes like bolognese sauce, casseroles, pies and meatloaf are perfect for hiding veggies. Vegetables like carrots, mushrooms and zucchini can be chopped, grated or pureed and put into these dishes. You can also puree vegetables and put them in batters for pancakes, cakes, brownies or muffins.
- Make smoothies and juices: kids love big colourful drinks. Blending fruits with vegetables can make them delicious and have your kids begging for more. Offer these at morning and afternoon tea and also if you are concerned they haven’t been eating enough.
- Offer dips: dips can be a great snack and if you cut up some carrot or celery for dipping, you can get in a double dose of vegetables. Dips like guacamole, broccoli and rocket, beetroot and hummus can be fun for kids and they will love being in control. Ask them what ‘sticks’ they want to use for dipping and then let them get stuck in.
- Grow them: it might not work for everyone but knowing where vegetables come from and knowing what vegetables look like when they are in the garden, can help children want to eat them. If you can’t have your own vegetable garden, taking them to the market and letting them see what they look like, all the colours, asking them what they want, letting them choose, can also be a huge help.
- Put vegetables with things they love: having veggies in your toddler’s favourite foods can really help encourage them to eat them. Dishes like liked fried rice, mac and cheese and pizza are great dishes that you can add extra veggies to and still have your child want to eat them.
- Make them more appealing: there is nothing worse than sad, overcooked broccoli. But popping broccoli into the oven with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon can make all the difference. Oven roasting can make vegetables crispy and delicious. It can’t hurt either to add some grated cheese to make them that little bit tastier and appealing.
- Keep offering them no matter how badly they refuse: never stop offering vegetables. The more they see them the more they will get used to them. Even if they don’t taste, ask you toddler to smell and touch. Toddlers are fussy and fickle which means they can change their minds easily. If the veggies are on the plate they might surprise you and just start eating!