This post was developed in partnership with Similac. All opinions are my own.
Getting toddlers to eat is hard enough, but give them something they really don’t like and you might as well wave the white flag. And for many, getting toddlers to eat more vegetables can feel like a lose-lose, never-ending battle. But convincing your toddlers to eat vegetables doesn’t have to be a power struggle and there are a few great ways to get your toddler to eat more vegetables without threatening or forcing.
Generally, kids don’t eat enough vegetables and according to health.gov, toddlers aged between 1 and 3 years do not get nearly enough servings of any type of vegetable in an average week. In addition to being naturally low in fat and calories, vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals which are especially important for growing babies and toddlers.
We’ve managed to generally avoid raising picky eaters (though they’ve all gone through phases) with a few simple family rules and vegetables are no exception. In fact, my kids love vegetables, gobbling them up at dinner, and even choose to eat them sometimes for snack without my even having to ask.
Here are a few ways to get your toddlers to eat more vegetables:
Offer vegetables all the time, from the start
The easiest way to get toddlers to eat more vegetables is to give them to them. Even babies should be offered vegetables with every meal though they may not always eat them. It seems simple enough but I know that many kids will refuse to even have vegetables on their plate which is why starting early is so important.
If you’re already in a vegetable battle, take it in baby steps. Put them with your child’s other food every single meal (if they won’t have it on their plate, put it in a bowl next to their plate) and make sure you’re eating them, too! It’s not about forcing your toddler to eat their vegetables, or even try them, but by offering a variety over time and modeling good eating habits, your toddler might eventually try them and find out they actually like vegetables!
Make vegetables unlimited
If your kids are anything like mine, they have insatiable appetites all the time, expect during breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is why I decided to create the rule “fresh is free” basically meaning my kids can eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables they want throughout the day. And though I sometimes have to limit how much fruit they have in a day, I’ve never felt the need to say “no more vegetables!”
By letting toddlers eat all they want of the healthier foods, it not only gets them to eat more vegetables, it keeps them from eating too much junk as well because they’re filled up on the healthy stuff. We regularly keep carrots, baby peppers and cucumber around that they can easily grab and go as well as other seasonal things like snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and more.
Choose veggie snacks instead
Let’s face it, kids like crunchy, salty snacks. This is why I always try to offer my kids dried vegetables when they don’t want fresh or fresh isn’t available. The dried vegetables help to quench that need for both crunch and salt and are as portable as crackers and other convenience foods toddlers love without all the extra junk found in many snacks marketed to kids.
We regularly buy dried peas, broccoli, okra, carrot chips, sweet potato chips and green beans which are becoming easier to find at most grocery stores. We also make our own dried kale chips (or other leafy greens) by spreading chopped kale on a baking sheet, sprinkling with a little salt, and baking at 200 degrees until dried and crispy. My older girls can make it on their own now (other than taking it out of the oven) and my kids can’t get enough of it, even the littlest guy!
Hide the vegetables
While not the best long-term solution to getting toddlers to eat more vegetables, hiding them in the foods they love is a simple way to get toddlers to eat more vegetables while you’re trying to get them to learn to like them. One of the easiest ways is through nutrition packed pouches like new Go and Grow by Similac pouches. With organic vegetables and flavors like Sweet Potato, Apple and Carrot and Butternut Squash, Pumpkin, Banana, Carrot, Spinach and Broccoli, each pouch contains 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables as well as OptiGRO which includes added DHA, Lutein and Vitamin E to help support growth and development.
I also routinely hide vegetables in our favorite dishes so my kids don’t even know it’s there and I also add lots of veggies into our other meals (check out my printable recipes for a week of vegetable filled dinners) so my kids either have to eat the vegetables or go through the trouble of eating around them.