How to get your child to eat vegetables
Getting your toddler to eat vegetables is one of the most difficult experiences because many toddlers are picky or even fickle eaters. Their favourite food today might be refused tomorrow. This is one of the reasons why vegetables are sometimes ignored in the toddler’s meals. However this should not be the case because vegetables provide a lot of very important nutrients that your toddler requires to stay healthy.
Sneaking in proteins and carbohydrates is easy but rebranding vegetables can be a task.
Here are some forthright as well as sneaky tips to make your toddler eat vegetables:
1. The first is the most obvious yet important action; set an example. As parents you must have good eating habits which your children will follow. If you refuse to eat a certain vegetable or state that you dislike it there is a stronger chance that your toddler might take a dislike to it as well. Try to avoid this, instead keep a positive attitude towards everything on the table.
2. A very popular rule is to get a child to eat 2 or 3 bites of the ‘disliked’ vegetable and then he/she can move onto his more preferred dish on the table. Children have a natural propensity to declare new foods as yucky. In fact research has shown that a child needs to be exposed to a food 8-10 times before he/she can develop a taste for it. So patience and a little bargaining is one way to get your child to eat his cauliflower.
3. If your child has a sweet tooth then a sneaky way to get him/her to eat carrots is putting it in baked goodies like carrot cake or brownies (grated carrots naturally blend in and in fact make it very moist). Baking is a method that ensures that the carrot retains a lot of its nutrients as well. Only ensure you choose a recipe that requires large quantities of carrots. Recipes that include other vegetables into baked items are available on the internet and a little research can go a long way in your vegetable battle.
4. Make the food fun. There might be a rule of not playing with your food but if that helps your child eat his/her vegetables then you can allow him to pretend that the peas are tiny planets he is crushing in his mouth. Just as long as he eats them, which is the end goal. Let him/her divide up his meal how he wants, children in fact make up stories of their plates as well. If your child’s imagination is helping him/her eat his vegetables then count it as a blessing. If not then encourage him to use it.
5. Do not force a child to eat any vegetable. A trial is alright but ‘cleaning the plate’ of large quantities of his ‘hated’ veggie will make him develop a stronger dislike towards the food and a more permanent negative association will form. Telling a child something is healthy and then forcing him to eat it won’t work because toddlers need more specific motivation. You can serve him a small quantity and tell him to eat that bit because it will make him/her stronger or taller, so that he/she can skip or play hopscotch better too.
6. Blatant bribery is something that you can resort to if your child is the pickiest of eaters when it comes to his/her vegetable. Putting the desert on the table, thus showing your toddler his incentive for eating a particular food can help your toddler be more motivated to eat it. With this kind of exposure there is a chance that your toddler might eventually develop a natural taste for the food (tip no. 2)
7. Pack in vegetables wherever you can. During breakfast in eggs (Spanish omelettes and the like are good ways to include veggies in eggs) or purée it in a smoothie, you can also offer a healthy salsa with baked tortilla chips as a snack. Vegetables don’t have to be reserved for lunch or dinner. Also grated vegetables in kichidis or pulaos, where the child cannot pick them out (or hopefully not even notice them!) is another good way to include vegetables in non-traditional ways.
8. Some parents find that when your toddler is part of the cooking process, right from buying the vegetable to cooking it, he/she are more inclined to eat it. So you can try to include your toddler in the preparation of meals, even if it means only observing, to help him/her eat it probably due to sheer curiosity on their part to see how it turned out.