Earlier this year, Hint Mama contributor Laura Grice of Mamahacks shared some great ways to trick your child into eating more vegetables.
However, if you don’t want to sneak veggies into smoothies, baked goods and other foods, and still want your little ones to eat their greens, you’re in luck. Today’s hint is three ways to make veggie eating something your kids will want to do, no sneaky servings required.
1. Have a crunch-eating contest. In other words, see who in the family can make the loudest crunch when eating raw veggies like carrots, a strategy I learned from one of my friends. She and her husband use this approach to get their five-year-old daughter to eat veggies, and they say it works.
2. Serve veggies as appetizers. Another friend, and Hint Mama reader, Christina Gilchrist shared this strategy, which she wrote “has worked surprisingly well” with her kids. In her house, dinner begins with crudités and dip, including a colorful array of veggies that can be eaten raw, such as peppers, radishes, cucumber and cauliflower, and two to three dips or dressings.
The kids are allowed to dip directly into the dip containers. “A little gross, I know, but they seem to like the control,” she wrote. This course is served with nothing else and Christina says her kids have gotten really into trying different veggies with various dips.
3. Encourage imaginative eating. Most little kids will want to eat their vegetables if their favorite show or book characters are somehow involved.
How does this work in practice? Take broccoli, for instance. My sister will ask her 2-year-old daughter who is hiding in her “tree,” and then she can pick any character she wants (whether Dora, Boots, Swiper, Mickey, Ernie, etc.), and then she gets excited to eat the veggie. Meanwhile, I use a variation of this approach: I get my 2-year-old daughter to eat broccoli by telling her that Swiper from “Dora the Explorer” is in her tree, which she better eat before Swiper does.
Along these lines, as I mentioned in an earlier hint, simply calling a veggie by a different name (i.e. “tree” for broccoli)”, or adding fun adjectives in front of the proper name (“baby” works particularly well, according to my friend Christina), can be all it takes to get the healthy foods to go down. And you even can encourage your kids to come up with their own names for various veggies.
Still looking for more upfront ways to encourage veggie eating? Some other great tips I’ve come across include serving veggies frozen (hat tip to the comments over at Rookie Moms), involving your kids in veggie shopping (hat tip to Summer Tomato) and using a guessing game approach to eating (hat tip to A Cup of Jo).
How do you get your children to eat their veggies?