Here are seven ideas you can try to get your kids to try new things:
1. Eat with them. I know this sounds simple, but it works wonders. Kids don’t eat well when the food is placed in front of them and their parent walks off to the sink to finish up the morning dishes. One of the best ways to get your kids to eat healthy food is to eat alongside them. Within seconds, your toddler’s hand will be reaching toward your plate (because every child wants what Mommy has) and sampling your salad.
2. Hide the veggies in other food. Some of my toddler’s favorite treats are carrot and zucchini muffins. Not as unhealthy as you’d think and packed with nutrients, they’re a great way to start the day with a nice cold glass of milk. Heck, Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld’s wife) even wrote a whole cookbook chock full of recipes with “hidden” vegetables. Some parents say it’s lying to your kids to hide spinach in brownies. I say — any way you can get them to eat more fruits and veggies is a win.
3. Make a smoothie. In my last article about how important veggies are for us, I mentioned the health benefits of kale — a super vegetable that is so full of nutrients, it’s referred to as one of the “healthiest vegetables on the planet.” But getting a toddler to try kale could be difficult, especially because eating kale is oddly reminiscent of eating grass (unless your kid likes grass). You could try this recipe for kale chips or even try a kale smoothie (which is all the rage with celebs these days). The point is — you don’t always have to serve veggies in their purest form if it means getting your kids to try some.
4. Make up silly names. My son wouldn’t touch his green beans or cooked carrots until I told him to eat his slimy worms and his x-ray vision carrots. Yup — it works.
5. Cover it with cheese and sauce. If your kids love cheese, this is a surefire way to get them to eat their veggies. I often hide spinach in their lasagna, and broccoli in their mac and cheese, and they gobble it up. If I put the spinach and broccoli right on their plate? They won’t even go near it. Go figure.
6. Wait till they’re good and hungry. Not to say that you have to starve your kids, but you may want to try the veggies as an appetizer as opposed to the main course. They’ll be more likely to try their artichokes when they’re ravenous than when their small bellies are already starting to fill up.
7. Serve it as a snack. In general, kids like to graze and often eat better this way than at the table at mealtime. When my kids wake up from their afternoon nap, I like to leave a few bowls with some healthy options out on their toddler table. While they’re playing, they’ll much on bite-size peppers, carrots and berries. Before I know it, the bowls are empty and my kids have eaten their serving of fruits and vegetables for dinner (which means no power struggle later).
I hope these tips helped. I’d love to hear your suggestions below!