Getting Your Preschooler to Eat Vegetables
Getting kids interested in vegetables at a young age offers them lifelong benefits nutritionally, and allows you variety in planning and preparing meals. Pediatricians agree that the sooner kids are exposed to veggies, the more inclined they are to like that food group as part of their daily diet.
Whether or not you include vegetables in your menu right away, patience, persistence, and creativity are key. Dieticians have found that kids often need to be exposed 15 to 20 times to a food before they like it. So, instead of consistently serving a vegetable the same way, vary how you prepare it.
Henry Legere, M.D., author of "Raising Healthy Eaters," suggests "camouflaging" the vegetable. For instance, steamed broccoli might get a thumbs down, but broccoli soup just might work. Also consider adding a new vegetable to a dish they already like: try butternut squash risotto, if your child enjoys risotto.
If you're ready to move beyond peas and carrots to the slightly more exotic eggplant and artichokes, studies in the Pediatric Clinics of North America point out that kids often follow their parents' lead at the table. So, eating what you want your kids to eat should help boost a vegetable's popularity.
You might also try starting a vegetable garden with the kids -- a fun outdoor activity -- or let them participate during grocery shopping outings. When you cook the vegetables they've either nurtured or chosen at the store, it offers kids a keen sense of participating in meal planning, and they?re likely to enjoy the fruits of their labor.