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suggestions on getting toddler to eat veggies!!

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

My just-turned-three yr old is not one of those kids who happily snacks on carrots sticks and celery! In fact he is reluctant to eat veggies most of the time.

Please give me some recipes/ ways to prepare veggies that your three or thre abouts little one happily eats- I need new ideas!


I know toddlers are big into presentation of food and texture and all that. When he was littler he ate more veggies but since becoming an opinionated toddler he wont eat them much

What types of veggies and in what preparation will your three yr old eat?


post #2 of 30

My best trick is to puree some of every soup I make, so even if she thinks she's only eating the noodles, she's really not :)  I've also been sneaking in a good serving of baby salad greens into her smoothies, which are hardly noticeable.  My DD is not a huge veggie eater lately either, but I can still get her to eat braised kale on a regular basis, and steamed broccoli with ranch dip.  I understand what you mean about the textures and presentation being a big factor.  My DD will eat raw carrot in a fine dice, but doesn't have the will to bite and chew carrot sticks.  She'll likewise only eat green beans/snap peas if I slice them into, like millimeter-sized pieces.  Otherwise she wants to open them up and eat the little beans inside, but ditch the rest.  Oh - will your son do salsa?  That's a pretty good bet over here...

post #3 of 30

I made a vegetarian stir-fry (with noodles) last night that was a big hit with my almost 2 year-old. He really enjoyed picking out all of the little pieces of veggies and tried to guess what they were. I encouraged him to taste them to help in the guessing process. winky.gif 


Another way I've gotten veggies into DS is with smoothies, though not quite as veggie rich as some people make. I might add a handful of spinach and some grated carrot to blueberries and a banana. It is still sweet and tastes like a smoothie, but gets in some of those veggies!

post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 

yeah I need to start adding em into smoothies again- I make fruit smoothies for him almost every day- sometimes I tried to add kale and stiff but I think I need to add less amounts.

someone suggested letting him help prepare the food which is a good idea-


he will sometimes eat soup but usually not more than 6 bites!


my sisters kids eat broccoli all the time-! I should try offering some dip with it-- sigh! oh well. I will keepworking on it- the smoothie thing I think will be the right way for us.

more ideas welcomed!

post #5 of 30

We're dealing with this right now, I'm just copy-and-pastin' from my blog because I'm to lazy to re-type.



So we've set up a positive reward system for them.  As a team we pick four food for the kids to work on.  Each food has ten spots next to it for stickers, for a total of forty stickers.  These kids aren't allowed to shun a food, but once the sheet is filled they get a special prize.  This time around BuggaBoo and Doozer decided to work towards a new dessert.

Why ten tries?  It takes a person 10-15 tries in a short amount of time to like a new food.  Nearly every food can be likable.



Maybe just work on one food at a time.  I've also heard good success from bribing (yes, bribing) with food they like.  One bite of "icky" food, one bite of good.  Two bites of "icky", one of good, etc.  Eventually they learn to like the hated food.

post #6 of 30

Oh, another thing we did (though it was annoying as all get-out) was a game with our son.  We acted like a food would cause irrepressible sounds to come forth.  For example, onions would make us beep, carrots got a good "awoogah!", peas were oinks, etc.  We made a big show of clamping our hands over our mouths after an outburst.  BuggaBoo really enjoyed this game and he ate a ton of food so he could make the noises, too!  It was just exhausting to keep it up after a while.

post #7 of 30

Another thing I just thought of - I've been having a lot better luck getting my DD to try things lately by giving her a solid plan for what to do once it gets in her mouth. I tell her, just try putting it in your mouth and chewing it up.  I give her something yummy to put in her mouth right away if she needs to wash away a bad taste.  I give her a tissue and tell her she's welcome to spit it out if it's really that bad.  She will usually agree to try the food, sometimes says it's pretty yummy (but may or may not try it again), sometimes uses her "chaser," and tells me what she didn't like about it, sometimes spits it out into her tissue.  I say, "Well, now you know, and even though you didn't like that food, you're still okay."  It's been a really helpful approach.

post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 

so I don't know if this is true or not but it helped me to feel better about this- a friend told me that the naturopathic doctor she sees- who has years and years of experience with kids and is someone I very much respect- said- lots of kids don't get into eating their veggies till they are about 4- and that is okay! When I heard that it took a lot of pressure off of me- just because I know this doctor and respect her opinion a lot-! So I don't feel a huge stress about it- but I do think I need to try some of these techniques to get him to at least get some more b=veggies in him if I can. In other words I want to try but if he won't eat them I will stil feed him other healthy foods and not stress too much.


He loves fruit and rice and organic meats,

but thanks for the suggestions as I do have a gut feeling I need to amp it upa bit with my effort to get him to eat veggies. more suggestions welcomed, these are great keep them coming!

post #9 of 30

I'll steam some broccoli and then put it in a bowl, go sit next to DS on the couch and let him "steal" some of my snack as we eat it together.  If you like eating your veggies it will rub off eventually.  

DS was pretending to be a bunny this week, so he ate lettuce and a ton of carrots.  Carrots can be dipped in ketchup.  

Buying things in season helps them taste better.  We shop together at the farmer's market.

Arranging the food in a smiley face or letter shape seems to help.

We serve his peas frozen.  Zero prep, and he asks for them for breakfast sometimes.  Peas also go in mac & cheese.

Sweet potato fries are usually a hit.

Frozen corn is hit or miss.  Fresh summer sweet corn he would eat every day.

He used to eat zucchini and asparagus.  I keep offering.  

He will not eat anything with butter and salt or sauce, so I just serve his plain before I add anything to ours.

Try making veggies available as an appetizer before you serve the rest of the food.

Muffins with sweet potato puree or carrot muffins are yummy, too.  

post #10 of 30
Thread Starter 

great ideas---- he does eat sweet potato fries- I guess I don't think of that as a veggie!HE has it in his mind that he doesn't like carrots so he won't try the. But he Loves muffins- so grating carrots into muffins is a great idea. maybe I can sneak something green into muffins too-?! he will drink green smoothies (the premade ones)- I have tried adding kale to smoothise but it didn't really taste good to me either I thnk I went overboard on the amout of kale.

post #11 of 30
post #12 of 30

This thread is very interesting to me, as a soon to be first time mom who has also been studying this topic in my nutrition graduate program.  I am encouraged to hear all of you experienced moms giving out the same types of advice that have been scientifically proven to work!  


It's been shown that kids may need to try as food 10 times or more before they accept it, and this actually gets higher as they get older.  Also, many kids will stop eating foods they used to eat around the age of 2 or 3. One study I read showed that even if the food is 'hidden', it makes the child more likely to accept it later.  The more variety that is introduced at an early age, the more likely a child will continue to eat a large variety of foods later on and will lead a child to be more willing to try and accept new foods as well.  Getting kids to help with food preparation (or even growing the food!) is shown to help as well.  Modeling good eating behavior is key, as is being open to trying new foods yourself and not allowing anything negative to be said about vegetables to your children. They innately learn what is 'safe' to eat from their parents and this process starts in the womb!  Flavors are passed on to babies in utero and through breast milk.  This allows the mother to communicate to her child before he/she even starts eating solid foods what flavors are acceptable.  


There's a ton of research out there on this topic as it is something so many families struggle with and is so important to health.  I have always wondered how well all of these things work in practice, so it is awesome to hear everyone's stories and how all of your real life knowledge actually coincides with research on the topic. I am looking forward to trying these things out myself in the near future :)  BTW, to the person who made up the noises when you eat different foods- that is brilliant and hilarious!

post #13 of 30
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

great ideas---- he does eat sweet potato fries- I guess I don't think of that as a veggie!HE has it in his mind that he doesn't like carrots so he won't try the. But he Loves muffins- so grating carrots into muffins is a great idea. maybe I can sneak something green into muffins too-?! he will drink green smoothies (the premade ones)- I have tried adding kale to smoothise but it didn't really taste good to me either I thnk I went overboard on the amout of kale.


It was....raw, right?  Just asking, because I put frozen spinach (blanched) in a smoothie once and it was disgusting, but I can shove lots of raw baby spinach in there and you'd never know. 

post #14 of 30

1) Salt

2) Fat

3) Texture

4) Umami


Some kids love raw veg and some kids don't. My kids generally prefer them cooked and seasoned and usually in the French or Japanese style. Microwaved frozen carrots - no. Farmer's Market gorgeous ones sauteed with butter and a bit of salt-- oh yes. Also, we serve them first, in small portions of non-hated veg/prep, and expect them to be eaten. They generally are without a lot of struggle.

post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 

newmamalizzy- you mean the kale? no it wasn't raw- I cooked it- I figured raw kale was too gassy- so actually it is better to mix raw green veggies into fruit smoothies? interesting- I didn't think of that

post #16 of 30
OP: definitely try with raw greens! Spinach and kale are both very mild and undetectable. My 14 month old DD isn't crazy about food in general but gets excited to try whatever I make in the blender.

In addition to green smoothies and giving something to dip in, you can hide many veggies in casserole type dishes. For example pureed butternut squash in mac n cheese, all kinds of veggies in lasagne, etc.

If you juice or go by a juice place (real juice, not smoothies), green juice is often swetened by an apple, my daughter likes it!
post #17 of 30

Yeah, I think using cooked throws the flavor ratio all off because of the way the veggies shrink and intensify.  If you're shooting for 60/40 fruit to veg, I'm pretty sure that's in terms of raw veggies.  Like I said, I definitely found of the hard way.  Baby lettuce actually gives a really nice taste to a smoothie.  The cooked spinach just tasted like yuck :) 

post #18 of 30

I throw raw greens into juice and smoothies for DH all the time and he doesn't notice lol! DD eats anything and everything, expecially veggies - she's not a huge meat eater and prefers beans and greens.  BUT, I knwo that can change and what I eat will affect her and I'm not a huge veggie fan, so sometimes I mix things in for my benefit as well.  Cauliflower is super easy to steam and puree and mix into mashed potatoes and mac n cheese.  When your DS is easting sweet potatoe fries, try cutting and roasting them yourself and add a few carrots of similar size in there - he probably won't know the difference.  I do a lot of roasted veggies bc roasting brings out a sweeter flavor - I had NEVER eaten brussel sprouts in my life until I tried roasting some for DD - omg, sprinkled with sea salt and garlic, they end up crunchy on the outside, creamy in the middle and are absolutely to die for!  I think the biggest problem is if the adults aren't veggie fans, we don't know how to make them interesting when really it's a matter of adding seasoning or cooking them just right.  My mother had no idea how to "make" veggies - it was plain, steamed frozen stuff and soooo bland and boring!  So experiment with seasoning and spices.

post #19 of 30

My ds went through a non-veggie phase around his 3rd birthday.  Regularly refused stuff he used to eat/like.  I didn't stress too much over it, we just kept putting some on his plate, and snuck some in foods from time to time.  He's past it now, and loves to snack on carrots and celery, and requests mommy and daddy bok choys to go with his baby bok choy :D  I think it's pretty common and will pass.  You could try some freeze dried veggies (straight out of the can, not rehydrated), they have an interesting texture, and taste sweeter to me than fresh.  The freeze drying preserves the nutrients really well.

post #20 of 30
Guac or salsa with some decently health chips to dip with are big hits with my DD. Big thing is to just keep trying different things and don't be discouraged by multiple refusals as it takes awhile sometimes for kids to like something. Hiding veggies in stuff is a good idea, spaghetti sauce is easy to hide extra veggies in too besides the other suggestions. Also, my DD really enjoys eating raw veggies with dip, especially if they are presented in a fun way or in a place to eat she normally doesn't get to eat.
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