How to Make Kids Eat Vegetables – Tips for Parents
You give a bowl of broccoli or carrots to your kiddo to munch, and your kid may take forever to finish it. Does this sound like it is a story of your household? If it is, you’re likely not alone. This is a struggle that most moms experience in their day-to-day lives. Why is there an aversion towards vegetables in some kids, and what can you do to make your kid eat his greens? If you have these questions on your mind, too, we may be able to help you overcome this constant struggle to feed veggies to your child.
Video: How to Make Kids Eat Vegetables
Why Is It Important for Children to Eat Vegetables?
With so many options available in the market for junk foods, children seldom pay heed when it comes to eating a nutritious meal that contains vegetables. There is no substitute for vegetables, and thus, no matter how much your child despises, you may have to find ways and means to feed them to your kid. This is because vegetables are high in essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and antioxidants, which are of utmost importance for the proper functioning of various vital organs. Eating veggies may protect your kid against many dangerous health ailments, too. A well-balanced and healthy diet should include a wide array of vegetables apart from other things, which means your child should eat various kinds and colours of vegetables to attain maximum nutritional benefits. On average, your child (up to eight years of age) may require up to 2 to 4 servings of vegetables in a day.
Why Some Children Don’t Like to Eat Vegetables
You may think that your kid may be the only one making faces at the sheer sight of vegetables. You may be surprised to know that it is very common for children to dislike vegetables. Let us help you solve this mystery; read on to understand why your kid dislikes eating vegetables:
- This might seem strange, but we can blame human evolution for this. It is believed that human being has evolved to like and prefer sweet-tasting things rather than sour or bitter-tasting things.
- Your child may cringe while eating Brussel sprouts or other such vegetables because of their peculiar or bitter taste. The presence of calcium and phytonutrients in most vegetables make them bitter and thus unpalatable for children.
- Disliking vegetable may mostly be seen in kids in the age bracket of 2 to 6 years of age. This is because they may develop food neophobia or fear of unknown or new food. This is usually a behavioural problem that some kids of this age experience.
- Also, whenever we eat something for the first time, we may not like it. The story could be completely opposite after developing a taste for the same foods. The same applies to kids, and as they grow, they may start liking their vegetables. It may take 10 to 15 efforts on average for you to finally make your child accept the taste of a particular vegetable.
How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables
Here are some tips that may help you make your kid polish off veggies from his plate:
1. Lead By Example
As boring and as clichéd as it may sound, but it sure does work. If you snack and eat vegetables for your meals, your kid may do that, too. Kids like to imitate their parents and siblings.
2. Give Them Time
Do not expect your kid to eat any vegetable that you offer for the first time. As discussed above, kids may take time to familiarise themselves with foods, and once they are comfortable with the taste, they may begin eating veggies.
3. Avoid Creating a Hullabaloo
Whenever it comes to feeding vegetables, do not make it appear as if it is something grand. Make it a regular eating experience and do not threat or bribe the kid to make him finish his veggies.
4. Add a Touch of Beauty
Whatever appeals to the eye can appeal to the palate, too. This means if you present the vegetables in a boring or drab manner, your kid may not be interested at all. However, if you present the, in an appealing manner, it can grab your kid’s attention. Carve roses out of a carrot or make a mouse from cucumber and watch your kiddo hog.
5. Give Options
This trick works for sure. Whenever you cook vegetables, try and cook two or more options for your kiddo to choose from. This can give your kid the feeling of independence, and he will feel free to choose. Don’t be surprised if he chooses one or more.
6. Use Peer Pressure
Well, peer pressure may not only work in the field of academics, but it may also be helpful in making your kiddo eat veggies. Invite friends over for dinner (who like to eat vegetables) and just see how, in order to impress his friends or to gain brownie points in front of you, your kid will finish all his veggies.
7. Spice It Up
Kids love to experiment with various tastes and flavours. Add some punch and zing to their boring vegetables with some dressing, seasonings, or dips.
8. Let Them Pick Vegetables
If you are fortunate enough to have a kitchen garden of your own, you may allow your kiddo to pick vegetables. On the other hand, you may take him to the supermarket with you and let him pick vegetables from the shelves. Freshly grown or nicely arranged fresh vegetables are a visual delight and can lure your kid in eating them too.
9. Let Them Starve!
That sounds extreme, but sometimes you have to be strict with your child! If your kid refuses to eat his veggies, do not give him anything else. Whenever he asks for food, give him veggies only. Believe us, when hunger strikes, even a bowl of broccoli tastes like heaven!
10. Let Them Cook
Cooking can excite young children, and if you involve them in cooking their vegetables, they may be tempted to try out their recipes. The entire cooking and eating experience may become one fun activity for your kid.
11. Praise Your Kid
If your kid makes efforts and tries to eat a particular vegetable, make sure you appreciate his efforts. Words of appreciation will pep your child up, and he will be trying out different vegetables in no time.
12. Experiment With Vegetables
If your kid does not like stir-fried carrots, you may feed him carrots in the form of soup. You can change the form of other vegetables in a similar manner. Sometimes, the texture of a particular vegetable makes children refuse them. Try out different textures to know which your kid likes the most.
What Parents Should Avoid Doing While Making Their Kids Eat the Veggies
Here are a few things you can avoid to make your kid eat his vegetables:
1. Do Not Force Feed
You can be insistent, but you should not force feed. Any kind of force-feeding can leave a negative impact on your child, and he may completely refuse to eat his veggies. Let your kid adjust to the new taste, and he may eventually start liking the vegetable.
2. Do Not Give Anything Outside Meals
Refrain from offering anything else in between the meals because hunger pangs can make your kid relish the veggies.
3. Do Not Prepare Special Meals
Offer your kid what everyone else will be eating. This way, you may be snubbing the habit of picky-eating.
4. Do Not Label Your Kid
Refrain from giving any label, tags or names such as fussy-eater, picky-eater, etc., to your kid. This can give them a reason to stay away from vegetables.
5. Do Not Bribe
Bribing by giving them a candy stick or letting them play a video game may solve the problem in the short run, but it may lead to a negative association towards food in the longer run.
6. Do Not Sneak the Vegetables in Food
You may win a small war by doing this, but not the big bigger battle of helping your kid develop a healthy habit of eating vegetables.
We hope this post helps you overcome your vegetable-feeding woes. Remember that your kid will take his own sweet time to get used to the taste of different vegetables. All he needs from you is a little bit of patience, and he will be exploring the world of vegetables in the course of time.