If you feel like you’re suiting up for battle every time you put a piece of broccoli or a baby carrot on your child’s plate, you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are ways to get toddlers to eat their veggies and, yes, maybe even love them.
Why Do Toddlers Hate Veggies?
Toddlers are notorious for hating vegetables. It’s not that you’re a terrible parent or they’re just picky. There are scientific reasons for toddlers’ preference for eating just about anything instead of vegetables.
It all comes down to instinct. Vegetables are bitter. In nature, bitterness often signals that something is poisonous. So when your toddler takes a bite of raw broccoli, alarm bells go off in their brain, telling them to spit out this potentially toxic tiny tree.
Additionally, vegetables are dense foods that don’t provide a lot of energy. However, toddlers are constantly on the go, which means they’re naturally drawn toward foods that will give them energy, like fruits and protein.
Ok, so it might make sense why kids don’t naturally fall in love with raw bell peppers and green beans. But that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass. So now comes the real question—how do you get your kid to actually like their veggies?
5 Ways to Get Your Toddler to Like Eating Veggies
It’s time to get creative, so your kid can realize that, yes, vegetables are delicious! Here are some things to try.
- Pair raw veggies with a yummy dip
Most adults don’t want to eat raw veggies, so why should we expect anything different from kids? Provide a hummus dip for cucumbers and carrots or a classic ranch dip for broccoli and cauliflower.
- Make them flavorful
Use aromatic olive oil along with garlic, onions, and veggies to create a delicious side dish of sauteed veggies that your kids will scarf down. Use whatever veggies you have lying around, and get creative with your recipe! Give your kids some say in the matter by letting them pick out the veggies to add.
- Set an example
Why would your toddler eat fresh green beans if you won’t? Eat your veggies in front of your kids, so they see that they are something to be enjoyed, not avoided.
- Make it fun
Whip up a plate of “ants on a log” or create a smiley face made out of vegetables using cucumbers for eyes, a baby carrot for the nose, and a bell pepper for the mouth.
- Hide them
Sometimes kids just don’t want to eat vegetables, no matter how cute or fun you make them. If your toddler is steadfastly refusing to try anything that came out of the ground, you may have to resort to hiding them—for now. Blend some spinach in a smoothie, or add zucchini to your next batch of banana bread. Then, let your toddler know they just ate vegetables and didn’t even realize it because they were so yummy!
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