Parents and their children may never see eye to eye when it comes to eating vegetables. A recent study highlighted in Medical Daily suggests that children are triumphing over parents’ efforts to feed them vegetables. The study observed that, on the day caregivers were surveyed, 25 percent of six to 11 month olds and 20 percent of 12 to 23 month olds did not eat vegetables.
These results likely come from the fact that some foods are viewed as more appealing to children and perhaps easier and more convenient to prepare for parents. Still, it is crucial that parents continue to serve vegetables for snacks and at different meals. This is especially important when parents are introducing foods to their babies since it can take eight to fifteen tries before a baby will accept a new food.
Luckily, there are a handful of tips and tricks for parents to use to make veggies more appealing for their kids.
Strategize at Snacktime
When introducing a new vegetable to your child, serve it as a fun snack instead of a meal. Think ants on a log (peanut butter and raisins on celery) or sliced bell peppers with hummus. This practice will allow them to associate food with fun and become more comfortable with the new tastes.
It’s Okay to be Sneaky
Substitute vegetables for certain ingredients in baked goods. For example, you can replace half of the fat in a brownie recipe with pureed black beans. Add vegetables to kids’ favorite meals, such as putting spinach in lasagna, to make the vegetable seem more familiar. However, it is important for children to make their own healthy food choices, so do not engage in this stealthy practice too often.
Mix It Up
If your child doesn’t like fresh produce, try introducing it in other forms, such as canned or frozen. Kids may prefer the taste of canned or frozen over fresh, and because canned and frozen foods offer nutritional benefits, it is beneficial to try serving your child the vegetable in these forms.
Also, vegetables do not have to come in their traditional forms. Creative and healthy options such as soup, tomato sauce or vegetable pasta may encourage your children to consume vegetables.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Just because your child rejects a food once does not mean he won’t try it again. Serve it again a few weeks later, but if your child truly does not care for a specific vegetable, don’t force it. Move onto a different one.
It can be challenging to introduce new foods and even more challenging to incorporate them into daily routine, but it is important to instill healthy eating habits as early as possible. Try introducing new textures of food around 8-10 months of age. Also, try to model healthy eating and to be patient during this process. Vegetables bring a number of nutritional benefits providing specific vitamins and nutrients that children need to grow and develop. Using these helpful tips, parents may educated themselves on how to introduce healthier foods into their children’s diets.
This post includes contributions from Morgan Manghera, a communications intern at GWU.