How to Start Your Kids Eat Vegetables
There’s nothing that can make moms happier than seeing their kids eat vegetables! While some seem to have the best appetites for every meal, most kids are always a challenge to feed, which is completely normal, especially for toddlers.
It isn’t easy I know—I am a mom myself and I always try to include vegetables in my baby’s meals. So far, it works for us, so I am sharing with you some tips and what are the best vegetables for kids so you can start them to eat healthy as early as now before it’s too late.
If you’re a mom like me and are looking for the best vegetables for kids, this article will be a jumpstart for you and your child on your journey to eating healthy. But remember, it won’t be that easy. Baby steps work wonders—with your patience and hard work, you’ll surely get there.
Tips on How to Let Your Kids Eat Vegetables
It might be frustrating sometimes to spend long hours preparing a delectable veggie meal for your kids but it only takes a few seconds for them to reject it. It is completely normal at the start but it should progress as you go along this journey. The tips below should help:
- Begin with what they want to eat.
You must probably know by now what your child usually eats. If he likes pasta, for example, try making one with a carrot on it. Grind your carrots well and add to your tomato sauce to create a very thick and creamy sauce for spaghetti. You can also use vegan sausages to add to your pasta.
- Teach by example.
Be a role model—they learn best from what they see. If you want your child to be a vegetable eater, you must show them that you also are. Eat with them and let them see that you enjoy your veggies too or better yet, make it a daily habit. It’s a great time to have parent and child bonding after all.
- Make a list of vegetables they already like.
If they previously like squash, for example, add them up to your list. You can also think of some vegetables that have similar texture and taste to squash such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, gourds, and pumpkins. This is just a list by the way. You can add as many as you can and just remove a few as you go along the process.
- Involve them in the kitchen work.
Get them into the kitchen and let them help you prepare their food. This might be the part where your patience will be put to test. Let them help you by planning their meals of the week, cooking and setting their food on the table. This heightens their sense of pride and ownership and will most likely give them excitement to eat something from their best efforts.
- Make food art.
Shaping foods into fun “food art” can catch your child’s attention towards eating. As playful as they naturally are, try doing the same on their food so that they will treat eating as an entertainment activity too.
- Introduce the “Tiny Tastes” Strategy.
This “tiny taste” approach was developed in UK research which suggested that children may need to try a new vegetable 10 times before they begin to like it. This recommends you to let your children start by trying a tiny piece of a veggie, not just once, but multiple times until they start enjoying it. Then gradually increase the amount and frequency of that vegetable as you go along the process.
Kids are naturally playful and sometimes want to get their hands dirty by grabbing their food with their bare hands. This also helps in developing their sense of autonomy as a child. Just let them enjoy their food this way while making the veggie meal unnoticed.
10 Best Vegetables for Kids and Their Health Benefits
Don’t just randomly pick vegetables for your kids to nibble on. It’s best to start with the simple ones that don’t have that weird or unusual texture and taste. See below for the 10 best vegetables for kids to start eating and why:
- Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are sweet and not spicy and come in different bright colors. You can let your kids munch on red, orange, green and yellow bell peppers by cutting them into pieces after sautéing or roasting them. They can also be added to your stir-fried meats or other vegetables.
Why: Bell peppers are typically sweet and kids naturally love sweets—seize this chance to let your kids try bell peppers. Bell peppers are good sources of Vitamin C which help in boosting our immune system. The best thing about them is that they can also be eaten raw.
Broccoli is one of the easiest to cook. You can steam or stir-fry it to add more flavors. Lots of kids like steamed broccoli but for picky eaters, you might need to be more creative in preparing them for it not to go to waste. Chop them up or tear them apart by hand and add them to your omelet or scrambled eggs. When using a food processor, the ground broccoli can be added to your tomato and cheese sauces, on top of pizza.
Why: You can cook all parts of the broccoli from steam to its florets, nothing will go to waste. It is rich in fiber which helps regulate bowel movements. It is also high in antioxidants and Vitamin K—which is used for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat found in brain cells. Research indicates that Vitamin K also helps with memory.
- Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so flexible that you can eat them steamed, fried, or baked. Its naturally sweet taste can be easily liked by your kids. You serve it mashed or pureed or you can cook it as sweet potato fries that your kids can munch on as snacks.
Why: This superfood does not only give you a sweet taste but it’s also nutritious as it is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in healthy vitamins and minerals like fiber, B6, manganese, and potassium.
These could be one of the few vegetables you don’t have trouble getting your kids to eat.
Finely ground carrots can be best used to add to a tomato or spaghetti sauce in your pasta as you wouldn’t notice or taste it. Fried carrots can also be eaten as fries which are good for your kids’ snacks.
Why: The texture and taste of carrots are not too overpowering that kids wouldn’t mind eating them at all. They are full of beta carotene, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. It is also recommended to improve your child’s eye health because of its high content of Vitamin A.
Cauliflower has the capability to look and taste like rice. Steam and grind it to turn it into tiny grainy bits and replace your kids’ rice with cauliflower rice. Frying is also a tasty way of serving a healthy cauliflower snack or side dish. Cauliflower mac & cheese is also a great idea. An ordinary cheese sauce that has cauliflower in it, will give you a thick and creamy cheese sauce that can be a weeknight lunch or dinner option for toddlers.
Why: Any way you serve it, cauliflower is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C. It’s great for kids’ bones; helping muscles and the digestive system. Since cauliflower is high in fiber and water, it can help in preventing constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
Peas vary in taste but generally, they are sweet. When cooked, the sweet flavor and soft texture of peas make them easy to be eaten by kids. They can easily blend with whatever dish you will add them to. Recipes that you can try using peas are spinach pesto pasta with peas, buttered peas or you can puree it after steaming.
Why: Peas are easy to find which gives you more convenience in preparing them. They are great for growing minds, aiding in the development of brain cells, and improving memory.
Can be considered the best greens for kids as it is packed with nutrients. You can prepare a spinach pesto pasta or sauté it together with the aromatic vegetables and add seasoning to make it tastier. It can also be added to smoothies and salads.
Why: Spinach can be an undercover veggie, incorporating it into sweet treats like smoothies and popsicles. Its green color won’t be visible when mixed with fruits like blueberries and blackberries. It’s an excellent source of antioxidants, Vitamin K, and essential nutrients for heart health.
This is one of the first foods my baby liked eating when he turned 6 months. I usually steam and puree it and it worked for us. You can do the same too. Grilled squash is also an effective way to serve your kids, or smash it and add to your baked goods such as cake, muffins or cookies. You can also add smashed squash to your mac & cheese sauce to make it creamier and thicker.
Why: Squash comes in many varieties so it’s easier to include in your grocery list. With a mild flavor and a pleasant texture, it’s easy to customize. Squash is packed with Vitamin A and C, plus fiber, and has a naturally sweet taste that little ones enjoy.
An effortless but wholesome snack, asparagus is great when grilled in butter or olive oil. It works great in salads as well. Its crunchy texture makes it fun to munch on. You just have to cook it right to achieve the right texture and taste we are aiming for.
Why: It looks new for your kids thus, instilling interest in the food itself. Eating asparagus has several potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, healthy pregnancy outcomes and lower blood pressure.
Corn on the cob can be grilled. Frozen corn kernels can be steamed and added to rice for a simple side. There are many dishes you can cook out of corn and its sweet and juicy tastes when cooked are surely something kids would want to eat.
Why: Corn has a bright yellow color that tends to be less daunting than greens, making it one of the most approachable vegetables for kids and picky eaters. Sweet corn is high in lutein, an antioxidant that helps with eyesight and night blindness. Corn is also high in iron, magnesium, potassium, and folic acid.
Kids who love to eat vegetables are one in a million! Parents of these kinds of kids must be so lucky! But if you’re not one of them, you don’t have to worry at all because this is just part of their growth. If you want your children to get past it more quickly, bookmark this page and follow me for more tips and recipes as I too, myself would also want to venture more into healthy food ideas for my baby in every stage he goes through.
I have collected vegetable recipes in my next article that are easy and fun to make. Don’t let it slip off your hands and take a look at it, here!