You want your child to have a healthy, balanced diet and know that optimal nutrition includes essential vitamins and minerals found in vegetables, so it can be worrying when they flat-out refuse to eat any vegetables. As with many things, children are more likely to try vegetables if they’re given a choice and if they’re associated with fun. The following tips should help you to make vegetables more tempting to your child.
Don’t force them
If you repeatedly try to force vegetables on your child, you’re unlikely to succeed in getting them to eat them. If you get angry or your child senses your disappointment or frustration, they may start to associate mealtimes with unpleasant feelings, which could lead to an increased reluctance to try certain foods or even the development of food-related anxieties. Aim to help your child to eat vegetables out of choice.
Make veggies fun
Make vegetables sound fun by referring to them by names that your child can learn and remember. Ask them to pass you Tammy Turnip or Carlie Carrot, or to see if they can spot where Betty Broccoli or Larry Leek are hiding in the fridge.
Make veggies look fun by arranging it on your child’s plate in creative ways. Try making silly faces, animal shapes or flowers, for example.
Educate your child
Start educating your child about the benefits of eating vegetables. Not in a preachy “if you don’t eat your greens…” way, though. Teach them how each individual vegetable is good for their body by using fun learning exercises. For example, you could make a fun game by creating a pack of cards. Each card could have a picture of a vegetable, along with its name and a simple educational fact. If your drawing skills are lacking, you could use the internet to download and print pictures that are intended to be coloured-in and involve your child in creating the cards. You could even create two of each card and turn it into a game of Snap to play with your child – each time one of you called Snap, you could stop to read the card’s fact. Alternatively, you could make up a fun song about vegetables and incorporate facts into it. Get creative!
Get your child involved
Allowing your child to grow their own vegetables can be a great way of getting them to eat it, as they’re likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and want to try what they’ve created. Let them choose what they want to grow and help them to plant the seeds or seedlings. Buy your child their own little gardening toolkit and watering can so that they can get into a routine of caring for their plants.
Take your child shopping with you and ask them to select vegetables they like the look of and want to try. Make sure they know it’s okay if they don’t like the taste when they eat them and that they can choose more next time, or they may be reluctant to try again.
Make it fun for your child to prepare and cook vegetables by letting them be your sous chef. Buy them their own apron or chef’s outfit and their own chopping board – depending on their age – and ask them to help you. Make sure you carefully supervise, of course. Involvement in creating meals from start to finish can be a great incentive to your child and make them eager to eat what they helped to make.
All the above tips can be adapted to suit your personal circumstances – give each of them a try and see what works best for you and your child.