Getting a Toddler to Eat More Vegetables

Ask the Expert

Q:

My three-year-old won't eat any vegetables. How can I incorporate some into her diet in a fun, yummy way?


A:

Modeling good behavior can make a distinct impression on a child: if your child sees you avoiding vegetables, he will certainly notice. So, set a good example, and eat all of your vegetables!

Even if your child appears to hate vegetables, continue to offer them at meals. Often foods refused at one time will be accepted later on. Raw vegetables are a great way to get kids to eat healthfully, and toddlers often prefer the texture and taste of raw vegetables over cooked. You can also dress those veggies up with low-fat yogurt, salsa, applesauce or guacamole, and see if your child prefers them that way.

Including vegetables as part of a casserole, stew or soup can be a great way to work vegetables into his or her diet. Putting veggies on "fun" foods like pizza or grilled cheese are also great ways to integrate vegetables into your child's diet. As a last resort, play a game using a variety of raw fruits and vegetables. For example, make funny faces using chopped fruits and vegetables and let him choose which parts of the face he wants to eat first.

Remember, do not become anxious—most toddlers get the nutrition they need even if they are picky. Keep offering and feel secure in the knowledge that a few days without vegetables won't be a calamity.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center provides information on healthy eating for infants, toddlers and children and links to other reliable health and nutrition sites.

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