Know any families where everyone eats their vegetables? Do you ever wonder what their secret is? Read on to find out!
1. Get an early start
When your child starts eating solid food, offer them iron-rich foods followed by a variety of vegetables. Babies are generally receptive to new foods between 6 and 18 months. Take advantage of this window to get them used to the texture and taste of vegetables.
2. Exposure, exposure, exposure
Is your child still turning their nose up at broccoli after their third try? Don’t give up! It can take up to 20 exposures before a child will try a new food. With frequent exposure to the same vegetable, they’ll get used to seeing it on their plate, and will eventually try it.
3. Be enthusiastic
Sit with your child when they’re eating. Be interested and enthusiastic about their meal. And be patient when they push vegetables away. Eat the same vegetables as them—they might imitate you! If they try something new, don’t forget to praise their effort.
4. Think super tiny!
To ensure your child is comfortable at the table, start out by giving them a very small serving of a new vegetable. It’s not as scary as a big pile of veg! That said, even if it’s just one bite, don’t force them to eat it. With small portions, you won’t waste any food if your child won’t eat anything.
5. Variety is the spice of life
Include a variety of foods to add colour to the meal. Kids eat with their eyes first (and so do you!). And add a second vegetable that they’re already familiar with. They’ll be in familiar territory. Plus, if they don’t eat the new vegetable, you know they’ll eat the other one.
6. Let them decide (sometimes!)
Around age 2, your child will want to assert their independence and do things themselves. Use this as an opportunity to ask them what vegetable they’d like to eat. If they decide, there’s a good chance they’ll eat it! You can also bring them shopping with you. Ask them to choose a vegetable they’d like to eat this week. They’ll be even more likely to try it at dinner time.
7. Get them cooking!
When you get your child involved in meal preparation, they’ll become more curious about different foods. If they’re younger, bring their high chair closer to the counter or get a stool for them to stand on. They can wash vegetables, tear up lettuce, stir bean salad and more! When they’re older, you can get them to peel carrots or chop vegetables.
Remember that there are two types of kids: those who like vegetables, and those who will like vegetables! Of course, no one likes every single vegetable out there. So don’t expect your kid to! But with those new tricks up your sleeve, you might be able to add some new greens to the menu.
Written in collaboration with Gabrielle Proulx, nutritional intern.