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How to get toddlers to eat vegetables?!
The question every new mom eventually faces.
As parents, we want to do our best to prevent our kids from becoming picky eaters– And that starts early on.
Now, I realize that not all kids are natural-born veggie lovers.
It’s hard to make veggies look appetizing when there are other delicious foods out there to choose from. Hello, pizza and cheesecake.
Once your toddler knows there’s a whole world of buttered toast, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets, you may be wondering if it’s too late to get your toddler to eat veggies and actually like them.
However, as a mom of two little boys who (mostly) love their veggies and other delicious foods, I can assure you that not all hope is lost.
There are definitely a few tricks you can try that really do work!
Related: Quick & Easy Meal Ideas for Toddlers
What do you do when your toddler won’t eat vegetables?
Not sure what to do when your toddler won’t eat vegetables anymore? Here are 10 tricks you can try.
1. Lead by example
I’m sure there are a million and one tips for getting toddlers to eat healthily, but I believe this is one of the most important ones.
When I was growing up, vegetables were the norm for us.
We ate traditional southern food most of the time. That meant turnip greens, LOTS of fresh veggies from the garden, and tomato sandwiches galore.
Broccoli wasn’t even off the menu. In fact, broccoli and cheese was a side dish we had fairly often. And my sister and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Everyone in our household ate the same thing. I never even knew there was a broccoli-hating world out there until I started school and learned there was.
This is the same approach I’ve adopted for my own kids and now, sure enough, my boys love broccoli.
Sure, setting a good example won’t guarantee your child will love ALL veggies, but I strongly believe that if we make vegetables the norm, our kids will be way more likely to give them a chance at the very least.
2. Trick your toddler into eating vegetables
By serving up a green smoothie!
My oldest loves it when I whip him up a green smoothie in the Ninja (my favorite blender ever). Not once has he ever complained about the spinach or kale.
Green smoothies are perfect because they are nutritious and delicious. If you mix them correctly, you can’t taste the extra veggies at all because the fruit masks them completely.
This book has 100 of the best smoothie recipes for kids if you need some ideas!
With all of the different combinations you can make, you’re sure to find one your toddler will gobble up.
3. Try veggie noodles
If you haven’t heard, noodles are delicious. But so are veggie noodles.
Zoodles are probably the most popular veggie noodles, and they are simply noodles that are made of zucchini. You will need a spiralizer/veggie slicer to make these, but they’re really easy to make.
Usually, you can substitute zoodles (or other vegetable noodles) for almost any dish that would normally call for regular noodles. Just make sure to not overcook them as they tend to get mushy!
4. Serve healthy versions of favorite foods
What does your toddler love to eat?
Mine loves pizza.
When we order pizza, we always order at least one with veggies. But you can also make “healthy” pizza and other favorites at home.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Zucchini pizza bites
- Zucchini “fries”
- Sweet potato fries
- Hidden veggie pasta (see below for ideas)
- Hidden veggie chocolate chip muffins (like these!)
5. Sneak vegetables into pasta
The best types of recipes for toddlers who don’t eat vegetables?
If your toddler absolutely refuses to eat his veggies, try some new hidden veggie recipes. Pasta dishes are excellent for this.
A quick tip: Once you’ve found a few recipes your toddler loves, keep track of them for easy and quick future meal planning.
Here are a few toddler pasta recipes you could start with for inspiration:
- Easy Pasta Salad for Kids
- Simple Tomato Spaghetti for Kids
- Easy Cheese Veggie Pasta
- Summer Pesto Finger Salad
- Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pasta
- Easy Cheesy Spinach Pasta
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Curry Pasta Salad
- Spinach Avocado Mac and Cheese
6. Pair veggies with something delicious
Another way to make veggies a little more appetizing is to pair them with another food item that they like.
For example, try serving broccoli with melted cheese as I mentioned previously. Or serve up a dip like a ranch dressing or hummus.
My toddler loves to dip his broccoli in ketchup (strange I know, but he loves it).
7. Experiment (and make it fun)
Maybe last week’s steamed carrot experiment was a huge fail. That’s okay. Keep introducing new variations and recipes!
There are plenty of vegetables out there to try. If carrots will never be your child’s favorite thing, maybe spaghetti squash will? (We love spaghetti squash around here.)
Or cucumbers and hummus?
Sometimes all it takes to find a winner is to mix things up a bit.
Before you give up on a certain vegetable altogether, try experimenting with different cooking/prep methods and food combinations.
For example, we learned that green beans taste a whole lot better when cooked in chicken broth.
8. Let them help
Kids are usually more than excited to “help you cook.”
My son is always asking if he can stir this or help with that, and he’s always thrilled to sit down and eat something he thinks he helped prepare.
It doesn’t even have to take up a ton of time. This could be as simple as letting them drop the fruit into the blender cup or pressing the “start” button.
There are endless Montessori cooking tools that you can get for your toddler to help you prepare meals.
9. Play up the importance of veggies
With little kids (especially toddlers), sometimes all it takes is emphasizing how “big and strong” healthy food will make them.
Even better if you get really into it and flex your muscles to emphasize “strong.”
Believe it or not, this has been working really well with our toddler. We’ve even gotten his big brother in on it.
10. Stay positive and don’t give up
It’s really important to keep a positive attitude when you’re trying to get your toddler to eat vegetables.
Be encouraging, but never try to force them to eat.
Even if they only take one bite, always let them know you’re proud of them for trying (even if they don’t like it).
Remember to lead by example whenever you can and keep experimenting until you find what sticks!
How do you get your toddler to eat veggies?
Pop them in the comments for other mamas to read!
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