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10 Tips to get kids to eat vegetables, without hiding them

eat your greens
I have vegetable loving kids.  Am I just plain lucky?

Maybe I my children are “normal tasters”? Do you know that there is said to be a correlation between the number of taste buds on your tongue and the intensity with which you perceive taste? 
Whatever the reason, I attribute my boys love of vegetables to the items listed below.
Note: Although it is not covered below, I am of the “school of thought” that if you need to hide vegetables in food to get your children to eat them then do it! Mince and blitz away. My ultimate preference is that my boys get as many nutrients and goodness as possible.
These are the things that I attribute to my children’s (mostly) healthy love of vegetables:

  1. Add a variety of vegetables to all main meals from the age that they commence eating solids. Also add vegetables to meals and snacks across the day. You could add raw vegetables to their lunch box, or to their after-school snack with a home made dip.
  2. Keep track of what your children eat across the day. You may be surprised at how much fruit and vegetable produce they eat during snack times. This removes some of the “veggie stuffing” pressure from dinner time.
  3. Set your family meal time rules and stick to them – ours is that the boys must try everything on their plate. If they try it and do not like it they do not have to eat it.
  4. Keep serving vegetables (in small amounts), even if you know your child will not eat it. They will change their mind at some stage. My five year old now likes lettuce after it being left many, many times on his plate.
  5. Serve new things often – use seasonal produce to assist your children to learn about the variety of food available at different times of the year. Talk about food and where it comes from. Foster a love and appreciation for fresh food.
  6. Model eating a wide variety of vegetables yourself – practice what you preach! My five year old will eat anything that Mr Fresh likes, including asparagus and now a small amount of chilli.
  7. Grow your own vegetables (even if it is one thing) and get your children to help plant, care for them, and then harvest the bounty. If you are a regular here you would know that we grow as much as we can in our backyard. The kids are actively involved with helping in the garden.
  8. Allow your children be involved in the kitchen, teach them to cook a healthy meal. This works especially well if you use produce they have helped grow in the garden.
     You can read about how I have encouraged my son to learn to cook here in a guest post I wrote for Childhood 101.
  9. Experiment. Add vegetables to your children’s favorites foods- eg: to muffins, or wrap them in pastry, or add some cheese to baked vegetables.
  10. Know your child’s limits and preferences. Do not force the issue and make dinner a stressful time.

grow fresh food

kids cooking dinner

One thing that I have learned is to try to flow with the constant changes that feeding children presents.  What is a “yuck” one day, may be “delicious” the next.

My two year old has recently become picky with his food and it was driving me to distraction. I was so used to the boys being easy to feed and not at all fussy, or picky.  It became my challenge to get him to eat his dinner like his vegetable munching brother! This led me to discovered that he will eat carrot, I just needed to add honey to it a few times and then re-introduce it without the honey to get him back on track. See tips 4 and 9.

There are vegetables that my children will not eat, they do not eat everything.  I do not propose that my tips will be suitable for all families.  Our children are all very different. As with all parenting decisions, select what works for you and your family. I hope that at least some of the ideas will help you to make progress with your children’s eating habits.
* I am not qualified to provide nutritional advise. I am sharing my experience. Please obtain professional advice if required.

On Tuesday next week I will be publishing a family food recipe to boost up the daily vegetable quota. We love it and I hope that your family will also. Have a great weekend.

How do you get your children to eat their vegetables? Share the things that work for your family in the comments below.





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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Anna September 21, 2013, 10:11 am

    Great post! I totally agree with you, and as a first time mom to a sometimes picky 15 month old, I think adding veggies to main dishes is key. I look forward to reading more!

    • Kyrstie Barcak September 21, 2013, 6:06 pm

      Thanks for your lovely feedback Anna. Happy veggie stuffing 🙂

  • Lisa the Gourmet Wog September 22, 2013, 9:04 pm

    Kyrstie, I found myself nodding and agreeing at all your points here. My 2 year old is at the stage where she is getting fussy but still continues to eat her veggies, just different ones, the ‘flavour of the moment’. We spend a lot of time outdoors in the garden and she loves trying things straight from the plants, picking at my baby spinach, kale and herbs too. I found her eating a clover though, I don’t think she quite gets which ones are veggies and which are weeds. Regardless she’s eating her greens 😉

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