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Check out How to Get your Toddler to Eat More Veggies: Part 1 if you haven’t already.
Truth be told, I typed out this big, long introduction. I ended up hitting the delete button when I realized nobody has time for an intro when there are hungry toddlers to be fed!
Check out the tips below…
How to Get your Toddler to Eat More Veggies: Part 2
1. Lead by example
If you have a toddler, I’m sure you know that the saying do as I say, not as I do, does not work. Kids pick up on everything and anything we do, even stuff we repeatedly tell them not to do. They model everything we do whether we like it or not. The solution? Eat your veggies too! Convince your partner to do the same. I mean, how can we blame a child for sticking their noses up to brussels sprouts if we won’t even eat them ourselves?
2. Offer them first… and with water
We learned very quickly that if we offered W meat, cheese or bread he would want more and more of those options over any type of vegetable we offered after. I like to fill him up on plenty of veggies and fruit before he stuffs himself up with meat and bread.
On a similar note, it might be best to take a pass on juice in favor of water with your toddler’s meals. Researchers from the University of Oregon published a study that found children tend to eat more vegetables and fruit when they have a glass a water with their meal as opposed to a sugary drink (Source: Science Direct).
3. Let them dip
Vegetables don’t always have to be so bland. Lots of toddlers (W included) are willing to try something if they can “dip” it into a favorite sauce. Even if they just lick the dip off at first, eventually your toddler may take a bite. The first time I gave W some peanut butter on celery, he licked it clean and threw the celery on the floor. I just gave that same snack to him two days ago and he ate the entire celery with peanut butter. Here are some dipping ideas…
- Hummus (make your own with this 5 Minute Recipe from Lil’ Luna)
- Healthy Yogurt Vegetable Dip (here’s a recipe from Healthy Being Happy, although I would use full fat yogurt and sour cream for the little ones)
- Black Bean Dip (try this yummy 5 Minute Recipe from Cookin’ Canuck)
- Guacamole (here’s the “perfect” guacamole recipe from Gimme Some Oven)
- Don’t fight your child’s love for ketchup on everything, just make your own so it’s healthier! (try this homemade ketchup recipe from Bakerette)
4. Make veggies fun
I’m a big believer in making sure the food experience is FUN! Fortunately, food comes in different shapes, sizes and colors. Creative parents have taken to instagram with their beautiful pieces of food artwork. Here are some ideas to turn eating vegetables into the best game…
- Let your toddler help. They may be more likely to try something if they helped pick it out and cook it. Even a toddler as young as W can help “mix” (commenter Marci from Vegging at the Shore offered this suggestion on Part 1).
- Let your toddler play with their food.
- A little food coloring is like magic. W loved “painting” with yogurt. If you blend up some beets after cooking them, they make a great paint too. Valentine’s Day is coming up. Try making a fun pink dip for your child to dip their veggies into. (Check out more painting ideas from Education.com)
- Try out these adorable face food plates or this Dinner Winner plate that turns eating into a fun game. [columns_row width=”half”] [/columns_row]
- If you are super creative try your hand at making pictures with your child’s meals. Here are some amazing examples from PopSugar.
5. Make them readily available
I don’t think I was quite ready for the amount of food my toddler constantly demands. It’s very easy to fall back into the routine of just giving cheerios or puffs as a snack. Even fruit is an easy, go-to snack.
Vegetables are a little more difficult. I don’t know many children, or adults, who can munch on a pepper like an apple. So, in the beginning of the week, I make sure to devote some time to cutting and peeling plenty of veggies so I have them on hand whenever W needs a snack.
6. Toss the crap
I bought puffs and mum-mums when W first started eating and, honestly, I think they are a fine snack. Yet, I soon realized the problem they had become when W started frequenting his way over to the snack cabinet. I have to laugh when W immediately struts over to the respective snack cabinets in my parents’ and in-laws’ home.
I know I have a difficult time resisting the snack cabinet, so I shouldn’t blame W for doing the same. So, I stopped buying the junky snacks all the time* and found W is way more willing to try different vegetables for snacks instead.
*I think it’s important to note that I still buy these types of snack food from time to time. Studies have shown that being too restrictive can lead to eating disorders down the road. I guess it’s always a balancing act! (Source: US National Library of Medicine)
BONUS Tip: Relax
Ultimately, I believe this is the most important tip of all. Most kids go through some kind of picky stage. You are not alone in your vegetable battle with your toddler. We are hardwired to reject bitter-tasting foods after all.
Bribing and pleading with your child to eat vegetables is not necessary and may backfire (Source: European Food Information Council). Instead, make fruit and veggies readily available, be a good model and trust that eventually your child will come around.
Do you have anymore tips I may have missed? Leave a comment below!
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