Forcing, bribing, and tricking are, of course, time-honored ways to get children to eat vegetables (though I would argue that, other than bribing, they’re not worth it in the end).
Kids don’t like vegetables, and unlike adults, using the logic that they’re good for you so you have to eat them anyway doesn’t do much good. Those are facts. But what if I told you there were some moves you could add to your playbook that might actually work?
I have an almost two-year-old, and my ears certainly perked up! If yours did the same, read on, my friend.
First off, don’t just dump green beans or corn out of a can and expect your kid to gobble them up. Use butter, sauces, bacon for flavoring, crunchy or cheesy toppings, etc – if you think they’re delicious, your kid is more likely to agree.
Second, pair a healthy food with something your child likes, such as mac & cheese or chicken nuggets. They might start to associate them and crave a whole plate of the delicious favorites next time!
Next up is a biggie – stop putting so much pressure on what your kid eats. As parents, it’s our job to offer foods from different food groups at every meal. It’s up to our kids what they choose to eat and how much. Deep breaths.
You should also avoid giving your child any kind of feedback when they eat/don’t eat what you’ve served. Both negative feedback (if you don’t try that you can’t have a cookie) and positive (now that you’ve cleaned your plate you can have cake!) work to teach your child they can’t trust their own bodies to tell them how much or what foods to eat during a meal. This could lead to bad habits and practices like overeating in the future.
Keep trying. Every couple of weeks or months, serve something again. Tastes change as kids mature.
Let them help in the kitchen. I know that my son will only eat scrambled eggs if I let him pull up a chair, do the salt and pepper, and sprinkle on some cheese.
Lastly, lead by example. If the adults at the table aren’t eating the same vegetables being served up to the littles, no way they’re going to buy into the hype.
There you go! Let me know how things turn out for you – I’m hoping for more veggie eating at our house!