That vegetables are essential for proper growth and nutrition is a given and most parents offer plenty of choices to their kids so that they can get the required nutrition. But getting the vegetables down those tiny throats is a different ball-game altogether.
It is ok to puree veggies and hide them in different recipes but how long would you do it? You want your child to be a good eater and not be eating veggies by trick. Here we present some proven tips to make vegetables more appealing to children.
Check out sample diet plans for toddlers.
Lead by example
It is no use insisting that your child should finish her veggies, if you do not eat them yourself. You must set an example by eating them yourself, only then can you hope that your child is going to like or even tolerate them.
It is a proven fact that food groups which are introduced early are preferred by children. In any case, it is easier to feed a hungry 8 months old than a stubborn 2 years old who is more interested in playing than eating.
You may introduce fruits and vegetables as first foods. Carrots, peas, pumpkins all form excellent purees and mashed food. As child’s palate starts developing, introduce more veggies like beans, bottle gourd, okra, cauliflower, broccoli etc.
Serve small portions and be consistent
If your child does not like vegetables, serve just a spoonful along with her food and do not pay too much attention. She might be tempted enough to try such a small portion. If she finishes, continue with same amount for a couple of days and then increase gradually.
Even if she does not try, continue serving this little portion of vegetablesthat everyone else is having.
Modify recipes to include veggies
Add vegetablesto everything you make. If your child likes pasta, add vegetables along with cheese. Similarly add veggies to noodles and pizzas. Veg pulaos and biriyanis can be very enticing for children.
Serve same food for whole family
Your toddler can have everything that you normally have as long as it is not too hot and spicy. Serve the full meal of roti/bread, vegetables, dal and rice inwhichever form you are taking them.
Take your child shopping with you
Take your child along when you go to the supermarket to buy vegetables. Let her help you choose the best ones and ones she likes. She will be more excited about trying what she brought herself.
Seeing the vegetables in their varied colors and in natural form may also make them look more enticing.
Involve your child in cooking
Let your child decide which tomato out of the two to choose or help you in washing veggies. This encourages them to act like adults and try new things.
Make it fun
You could use cookie cutters to make different shapes out of veggies and make a salad that looks like a car or a scare-crow or anything that your child might fancy.
Do not force
Forcing your child to finish that bowl of veggies before she can get up from the table will only make her suspicious and will cause a bigger problem of not wanting to eat at all as she will start dreading the mealtime. So be a friend, coax, suggest, show but do not make it a punishment.