Expert Tips to Get Kids to Eat Veggies – and How Much They Really Need

crate of veggies
Image via iStock

Transitioning your child from baby food to solid foods can be quite the task.

All parents want their kids to eat enough veggies and fruit but figuring out how much they need and how to get them to eat what they need can be challenge. Dr. Jack Maypole, adviser to The Goddard School and pediatrician for medically complex children at Boston Medical Center, offers some guidance on how much kids of all ages need to stay healthy:

  • Toddlers should eat two to three servings of fruit and vegetable a day. A serving size for this age group is about a quarter to half what the grown-ups at the table are served.
  • Preschoolers should be offered about a quarter to half a cup of canned or fresh fruits and the number of tablespoons of vegetables for every year of their age daily.
  • All children should be served protein two to three times a day and carbohydrates up to six times a day (think snacks!).

Now that you know how many servings of healthy foods your little one needs, how can you get her to eat what you offer? While some families have toddlers who will happily eat whatever is offered, many parents find that around 12-15 months old their children tend to become picky or even avoid healthy foods they previously loved when they start to become more aware of taste and texture. As a mother of four, I know it's not always quite that easy!

If you have a picky eater at home Dr. Maypole has some tips to help.

{ MORE: Parents: These 6 Foods Make Up 40% of Kids' Empty Calories }

family has dinner together
    Image via iStock

Offer one new food with two familiar foods

If you know your daughter likes pasta, serve that as usual and add a portion of a new vegetable to her plate. If she's got one food available to her that she really likes, she won't be so averse to the vegetables.

{ MORE: Don't Panic, But There's Probably Lead in Your Baby's Food }

 

 

 

picky toddler
Image via iStock

Establish a rule that children have to try at least one bite of a new vegetable

Just as the saying goes, “You can't knock it unless you try it,” meaning, you have no basis on the taste of a food if you've never tried it. Research shows that most children will take to a food after about 15 tastings (for some super picky or rigid eaters, such as those on the autism spectrum, for example, it may be many, many more times).

 

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Image via Flickr/ JeepersMedia

Turn the food into something that kids don't associate with “gross” — like V8 or Naked Juice

My kids love to drink their veggies (maybe because they don't realize what they are drinking is good for them). Sometimes I make smoothies with spinach and carrots, but we also drink a lot of drinks like Naked Juice. My kids love then and they have fun names like Green Machine and Kale Blazer.

{ MORE: Make Summer Meals a Family Affair: Start a Vegetable Garden }

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Image via Skip Hop

The taste may lie in the presentation

Keep mealtimes positive by involving kids in food prep and getting enthusiastic in the craft and presentation of food. This may cultivate interest and curiosity in the food, which can lead to the development of a more adventurous palate.

Besides the look of the food, kids love colorful, fun plates! Mine love Skip Hop's owl-themed mealtime set. Many other animal themes are available in case your child prefers dogs or butteries.

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Image via Baby Brezza

Never force feed or go to war about making your child eat

Forcing your child to eat food that they don't want to eat is typically a losing battle for all involved, but finding a way to negotiate in some way may not be a bad solution.

If it's easy for Mom and Dad to make veggies, they will offer them to the kids more often! The Baby Brezza Glass One Step Baby Food Maker is great for making small portions for introducing veggies to babies in a way that looks similar to the baby food they had been previously eating. It also works well for toddlers, preschoolers, and even my big kid when I want to prepare a small amount of a new food for my kids to try. It's kid sized, so it's easy for older children to use.

{ MORE: Could an Elimination Diet Prevent Colic? }

Do you have any tips on how to get your little ones to eat their vegetables? Spill your secrets on how you get your kids to eat their veggies.

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Expert Tips to Get Kids to Eat Veggies – and How Much They Really Need

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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