The 3 Best Ways to Get Picky Kids to Eat Vegetables

There’s a certain point after a child starts eating solid food that they realize, “Hey, wait a minute, broccoli doesn’t taste so great.”  I’m not sure if these toddlers have a meeting and decide one day that they are just going to stop eating vegetables, but one day they’re loving them and the next, it’s like you’re trying to feed them a live spider.

So how do you get your kids back on the vegetable wagon?  I’ll be honest, it’s not an easy task.  I personally eat vegetables, not because I want to, because…well..basically I force myself to try and eat healthy a few nights a week or else I’ll wind up 500 pounds and not able to chance my son around the house.  (apologies to the 500 pound people reading this post I didn’t mean to offend you).

green vegetables and fruit in a bowl

Getting a picky eater, especially a kid who has decided that if they see anything that resembles a vegetable, it’s either going to be thrown on the floor or spit out, takes a lot of thought.  I have good news though; you can be successful and get your kids to eat vegetables whether they like it or not. (Don’t worry I’m not talking about force feeding them.  Here are a few ways that you can do it:

  1. Sneak it in
  2. Trick Them
  3. Change their minds

Now let’s take a look at exactly how this can be done.  I’ve also ranked these options from easiest to hardest.  So if number 1 doesn’t work for you, good luck with number 3.

Option #1: Sneak It In

So, this one is almost unfair because 99% of the time, they’ll have no clue that they’re eating a vegetable…maybe even 100%.  If you’re a new parent, or maybe a parent who’s just moved here from the Moon or Jupiter, your local grocery store has these things in the kids section called squeeze pouches or as my son calls them “Squeezies”.  Now in these Squeezies there are different mixtures of fruits and you guessed it, vegetables.  If you check the ingredients, on most brands, they just have the fruits and vegetables, no additional ingredients added.

photo of sliced vegetables on ceramic plate

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to buy baby food or kids food and want to make it yourself, grab a blender and grab some fruits and vegetables and start blending.  Yours may not work as well as the ones in the stores so don’t blame me if your child doesn’t want it, but these squeeze pouches work like a charm.

My local grocery store even has a brand where there are animals on the front.  So while my son is distracted by the fact that there’s a cat or a deer, or a bear on the front, he doesn’t realize that he’s eating peas, or broccoli, or carrots or even Popeye’s favorite…spinach.

So this is a method I highly recommend, because a long as you have fruit covering up the awful taste of peas or celery, you should be able to get some vegetables in your child.

Option #2: Trick Them

Okay for all of you health nuts, cover your ears….actually wait…close your eyes, that will work better.  Cheese and bread are your friends parents.  Sauces are your friends parents.  Now depending on what your child likes or if they have allergies, this isn’t a one size fits all solution.  IF YOUR CHILD HAS A DAIRY ALLERGY DO NOT GIVE THEM CHEESE.  IF YOUR CHILD HAS A GLUTEN ALLERGY DO NOT GIVE THEM BREAD.  Okay I think I screamed that loud enough to cover myself.  Now back to my point.

green vegetables in black bowl

If your son or daughter is a fan of cheese quesadillas or chicken and cheese quesadillas, time to put your chef’s hat on and figure out how to trick them into thinking they’re just eating that while slipping a vegetable in there as well.  Mash it up, bake it in, do whatever you gotta do, but fill that quesadilla with a little bit of a vegetable that makes sense and you should be good to go.  I’d recommend a little bit of green baked under the chicken and cheese or something along those lines.

If you don’t feel like your chef enough to do it, don’t worry, the grocery store can help you out once again.  There are a bunch of food brands that sneak vegetables into chicken tenders or other fun foods that your child most likely won’t notice.  They’ll be too distracted that they’re eating a dinosaur to realize it’s a dinosaur filled with mashed up CARROTS…AHH.  This is a great way to get some vegetables into them. 

delicious spaghetti with bolognese sauce and parmesan cheese

Now I didn’t say this option was the healthiest option, but sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war, just ask George Washington.  Making the trade off between a little bit of cheese for some broccoli isn’t a bad idea.

Option #3: Change Their Minds

If you have a stubborn child, this one may be a little difficult, which in all fairness I did say at the beginning of this.  Changing someone’s mind in general on anything is not easy.  Once I make up mine about a food or a restaurant, it’s usually tough to get me to rethink my decision.  It has happened before though, so it is possible.

Anyway, changing a child’s mind on a hot steaming pile of peas might be harder than changing someone’s mind on presidential elections or marriage laws.  But, once again, it can be done.  There are plenty of books and tv shows out there that make vegetables seem like fun.  Sesame Street kind of does a good job with this (although when they tried to make Cookie Monster a vegetable guy, it was a worse decision than when they tried to cast John Stamos in any other role besides Uncle Jesse).  Daniel Tiger also is good at brainwashing…um I mean helping kids understand that vegetables are good for you.

Like I said, this option may be the hardest one, so proceed with caution because it could backfire and just make them like vegetables even less.

At the end of the day, all you can do is just continue to try and offer them some vegetables.  At some point they will find themselves eating some vegetables once again.  It may not be for years and years but it will happen.  Just don’t force them because forcing someone to eat anything, especially a young child is a big no no.  But bribing, now that’s a whole different story. 😊

Let me know how you try and get your kids to eat vegetables.  Leave your comments below in the comment section.

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