There are many ways to make vegetables more attractive to preschoolers. One way is to make the veggies visually attractive. Cutting carrots into rounds (or buying “crinkle-cut” carrots) or sticks can help get your preschooler to eat vegetables. Small vegetables – think cherry or grape tomatoes over tomato slices – can also help, as young children feel like these are more manageable. Broccoli florets can be cut up even smaller to fit better into preschoolers’ mouths. Plus, broccoli florets are like little trees, which can make diner time much more fun. Young children may be more willing to eat foods that they have picked out. Involving your child at the grocery store when picking out vegetables can help motivate them to eat them at dinner.
If visual attractiveness isn’t enough, you can add condiments. Celery goes great with peanut butter (or almost or sunflower butter if your child has allergies), and you can even add raisins on top. Cheese to be more palatable and get your preschooler to eat vegetables. All vegetables can be dipped in hummus, which is also a great source of protein.
It is also important to model the eating of vegetables. If you tell your children how important it is to eat vegetables but only consume pizza and bread in front of your kids, they are more likely to follow your behavior than your instructions. Make eating vegetables a family tradition, and talk about how delicious the vegetables are. Serving new food with your child’s favorite foods, helps your child transition to new foods. Remember, it takes up to 40 exposures for some children to try new foods, so don’t give!
Finally, if you really can’t get your preschoolers to eat vegetables, you can hide them for a little while. Zucchini bread and muffins, spinach pasta, and vegetable purees are all good ways to hide vegetables in food that your child already likes. Pureed cauliflower can be mixed into mashed potatoes and pureed tomatoes, carrots, or zucchini can be added to hamburger. Remember that children go through different phases very quickly when they are young and may be ready to try the same vegetable in a short amount of time. Be patient and consistent, and eventually your child will find the vegetable they like and will be excited to eat them.