Toddlers can be very fussy at times, especially when it comes to food. This can pose a problem for parents who want their picky toddlers to eat healthy vegetables. Here are some tips for getting toddlers to eat veggies.
An interesting study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that toddlers make decisions on what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid, based on social cues. In other words, if everyone else is avoiding the veggies – your toddler will do the same.
On the other hand, if your toddler sees that everyone else at the dinner table likes the vegetables that were served for dinner – her or she might decide to try that food. The key is to be genuine. Parents can start by making the vegetables they truly enjoy part of the family’s meals. Eventually, your toddler will figure out that vegetables are good things to eat.
Another study found that children between the ages of 3 and 5 will eat more vegetables if they are given water to drink with their meal than if they were given soda (or other sweetened beverages).
Parents can try offering water with their toddler’s meals. You may find that this small change is all it takes to turn a picky eater into one that willingly eats their vegetables.
Try making the vegetables sound fun. An experiment published in 2012 found that elementary school kids in a school cafeteria ate twice as many “X-ray carrots” than they did of identical ones that were simply called “carrots”. Parents can try renaming vegetables so that they sound imaginative and fun. Another option is to cut the veggies into interesting shapes that kids might want to pick up and play with.
If all else fails, give your toddler something to dip their vegetables into. For some reason, the same toddler that refuses to eat carrots, or broccoli, or other cut vegetables will happily eat them if they can dip the veggies into something. Offer some salad dressing, ketchup, or other dip along with the vegetables. The reason this works is because the dip masks the bitter taste of the vegetables and makes them more palatable.
Parents can also try increasing the portion of vegetables that they serve to their toddlers. Give them a big portion of veggies first – and offer other parts of the meal after the toddler has had a chance to eat their veggies. Hungry kids might choose to eat whatever is in front of them. Put the veggies in reach!
Image by Shyn Darkly on Flickr
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