At some point in the last year, my almost three-year-old decided to eat like one. Grr. She was doing so well for so long, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and loving it. And then she woke up one morning — and my good eater disappeared. I don’t think that I am an outlier here. In fact, I think there are a lot of moms who can commiserate.
It’s taken some time and some tricks, but I think we are getting back on track. Here are some of my tips for successfully serving vegetables to a picky toddler!
1. Keep at it. It’s important to remember that kids will not eat something they don’t see. So as many times as you might “fail,” do not give up. Keep serving and encouraging.
2. Try mixing it in a sauce. When I ask another mom for her go-to move, usually the number one response is to sauté a vegetable (for example, spinach), and add it to a sauce the child likes.
3. Dip it. I was unsure about this one until I tried it. I was surprised how happy and excited my little one gets about it. She loves trying carrots, radishes, cucumber, etc. in a little dollop of ranch dressing or hummus.
4. Make it fun. Everyone likes to play with their food, right? I like to make veggies fun with mini cookie cutters. I found some simple shapes online that excite my three year old without fail!
5. Bake it. Make those veggies into a muffin, tot, etc. Check out Pinterest for a variety of easy recipes — you’ll even find some kid-friendly ones so you can cook together! We have tried carrot fries, sweet potato tots and a variety of veggie-packed muffins. Pro tip: The muffins can make a great side dish or a popular snack.
6. Plant (and tend) a garden together. After all, everything tastes better when you’re actually the one who grew it!
7. Buy it. There are a lot of brands out there selling everything from kale chips (try these!) to mixed veggie chips (we dig Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips in Salt & Vinegar) to broccoli chips (we like the crunch florets at TJ’s) to green smoothies and veggie soup (we love Fawen drinkable soup).
I always try to keep myself sane and remind myself that I can’t force my kids to eat. I just have to keep at it and teach healthy eating habits. I fill my girls’ plates with one thing they love, one thing they might eat and one new food I’d like them to try. Some days, I win — and some days they do.
What are a few ways you’ve found success when it comes to the great Toddler vs. Veggie War? —Julie