Posted on June 15 2021
Aside from offering a wide variety of vegetables for your little one to choose from, experiment with differing sizes and let your child use utensils to feed themselves.
If your little one refuses to put anything resembling a vegetable near her mouth, here are a few ways to try and get her to increase her vegetable intake. These also work to help you get your recommended two servings a day.
1) Choose Your Words Wisely
It may be frustrating to have your child constantly reject her vegetables and have them end up on the floor, but the language you use is important. Rather than calling her a “picky eater”, say she is still trying to “learn about this food” or being “selective”. In addition, refrain from bribing your child with dessert or candy, which may cause her to associate these as the means to get rewarded with the fun stuff.
2) Perseverance is Key
It takes your child about 10 - 15 times of being offered food before she might try it and like it. Hence, continue offering the vegetables over and over, even if they usually end up being thrown to the floor - one day, you little one might taste it, and eventually start liking it. Start with one or two pieces, so you don’t waste food or overwhelm her. Putting only the food that she currently likes at the moment only reinforces picky eater behaviour.
3) Get Your Child Involved
Let your toddler help out with simple tasks like putting vegetables into the Babycook Solo, and she may be more interested in trying the end result
Your child is more likely to try tasting a vegetable if she has been involved in the cooking and preparation. Bring her grocery shopping with you to point out the various fruits and vegetables, letting her feel the different textures. You could also try planting your own vegetables or herbs, and let her water the plants and monitor their growth. When it comes to preparing the food, let her put the ingredients into food makers like the Béaba Babycook Solo ($285), which can make dips, soups, baking, drinks and frozen treats. She can also help wash the vegetables with this wash ($19.90).
4) Get Creative
Certain food textures may be icky to your little one, so hand him a toddler-friendly spoon like this one from Kizingo and let him have a go at feeding himself.
Create visually interesting plates - for example, cutting out cucumbers into flower shapes with a cookie cutter. Create faces with the vegetables, or pair them with dips. If you’re feeling particularly inspired and have a little more time to spare, you can even create meals with your child’s favourite cartoon character. Along the same lines, play with sizes and ways of serving. For example, after you’ve cooked squash, and raked the insides to form spaghetti, serve it in the squash “bowl”. Give your child the head of broccoli rather than cut up pieces - the sheer size in relation to the rest of her food might intrigue her enough to try it. Offer her utensils instead of using her hands.
5) Add Vegetables Into Everything.
Not just for your little ones, get more vegetables into your diet by adding them into everything, such as mushrooms, tomatoes and basil leaves into pizza.
You can also add more vegetables like cauliflower into rice and mashed potatoes or make a pizza crust. Make noodles out of vegetables, like spaghetti squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes or beets. Try these noodles and mee sua ($3.60 to $7.90) options which are filled with vegetables like spinach and pumpkin. Otherwise, add vegetables to your desserts like Kale and Apple Cake or avocado chocolate pudding. Two other easy ways to get vegetables into your little one are by homemade smoothies and juices. One easy recipe for juice is a base of celery, carrots and apples and other vegetables like spinach, kale, cucumber and beets. Also, bananas make all green smoothies taste better.
6) Build Healthy Eating Habits
For toddlers aged one to three years old, they’ll need half to one serving of vegetables. A serving is about 100g of raw non-leafy vegetables, or a quarter of a 25cm plate of cooked vegetables. Additionally, an appropriate portion size for your toddler is about a quarter of your own servings. Help your child build healthy eating habits by allowing her to eat what she wants without pressure, so she can recognise her body’s signals of hunger or fullness.
7) Vegetables for Snacks and Before Meals
If you’re pressed for time, these Piccolo Organic meal pouches make for convenient and nutritious snacks for your toddler.
When your child gets hungry between meals, offer her healthy snacks like a rainbow of vegetables or fruits - or suggest she wait for the next meal. As she can’t pick anything else at this time, she’ll likely eat at least one or two vegetables. Thus, mealtime won’t be a battle since she’s already eaten her greens. Offer a few different vegetables throughout the day and let your toddler choose from among them. She may eat less one day and more another day - as long as she has energy to play, learn and explore, she’s most likely getting enough food. Serve the vegetables first and let your little one munch on them first before the other “courses” are ready.
Easy Vegetable-Based Snacks: Only Organic Vegetable Lasagne and Macaroni Cheese, Little Freddie Flavoursome Butternut, Peas & Kale and Piccolo Organic Garden Vegetable Three Grain Risotto with Cheese & Basil ($5.50 to $7.45).
8) Eat Your Own Vegetables.
During mealtimes, sit and eat together with your toddler as much as possible. Prepare the same foods for your toddler and the family, varying the spices, salt and sugar accordingly. Your toddler will model your behaviour, so if you enjoy eating vegetables, she may eventually eat them too.
9) Vary the Preparation and Types of Vegetables
Don’t forget to season your toddler’s food to make it more appetising - try the Lilo Ikan Bilis powder for extra nutrients and flavour.
Try a wide range of vegetables, and hopefully your child will like at least one type at any one time. If for instance she refuses green leafy vegetables, try orange and dark yellow ones like carrots and sweet potatoes. Prepare these in different ways, such as raw sticks, Asian stir-fried, air-fried or oven roasted to see which your child prefers.