Monday, April 12, 2010

How to get your child to eat vegetables

Since my daughter, Kitten, has lived on our produce farm her entire life, she is a voracious consumer of vegetables. Raw or cooked, with embellishment or without, she loves them.
Hang on, that’s only in my fantasy parenting life.

In actuality, Kitten eats only corn, peas, and trees (broccoli with cheese sauce) from the vegetable category. She doesn’t even like French fries (she doesn’t get that from me).

There are several approaches to combating this problem. Here are some suggestions I’ve seen:

 Let your children see you enjoying your vegetables.

Offer dips such as sour cream or yogurt for raw veggies.

Let your children help you shop for and cook the vegetables.

Offer vegetables – raw or cooked – as a first course while the child is most hungry.

Add vegetables to child’s favourite food, such as mixed in with mac and cheese.

Switch up the cooking methods to offer different tastes and textures.

Don’t cook vegetables until they’re mushy.

We have tried a few ways of getting Kitten to eat some veggies, with varying degrees of success.

Plan A – make a rule that she has to eat all the (modest) amount of vegetables on her plate before she gets her reward, such as dessert or computer time. The result was a big fat failure, and sitting at the table for an extra half hour before one of us gave in (that would be me) was simply exhausting.

Plan B – hide the veggies in something else. Making pumpkin raisin muffins (click for my escapetothefarm pumpkin raisin muffin recipe) is always a hit. Hiding the veggies on her dinner plate (like a pasta sauce) is more difficult, as she is a) smart and b) suspicious of a dinner plate with no visible vegetables.

Plan C – require that she take at least one bite of every item on her plate, “in case she discovers a new favourite.” This has had some success, though it’s slow going. We have been able to work her up to having half a cup of tomato soup (I think the appeal is really the crumbled cracker on top).

Plan D – have her become more involved in growing the vegetables. My intention is to institute this plan this summer, and see if that makes any difference. I’ll let you know how it goes, so watch this space!

I’d love to hear your experiences with kids and vegetables – did you eat them as a child, or does your child eat them now (and if so, how did you do it?!).


  1. My middle child won't eat cooked vegetables--he actually vomited last time we convinced him to eat a piece of cooked carrot! But for some reason he'll eat raw vegetables. I guess it's just a texture thing. So I try to offer him carrot sticks or cucumber slices before supper when he is feeling hungry.

    I also sometimes resort to adding bits of vegetables into meals in ways he won't notice--for example, I often chop some spinach up finely into the spaghetti sauce, and the pieces are so small it doesn't bother him.

    Fortunately, my other two children eat vegetables more readily. :)

  2. I agree, Laura, that texture seems to have a lot to do with what children will eat.

    It sounds like you've found ways to make you both happy.


I'd love to hear what you think.