Getting the little ones to eat greens can be tricky. For me, it was always the part of the night I dreaded most – how the heck I was going to get vegetables into my little guy? I’d chat with mummas at the park and beg them for their golden secrets, I’d ask my GP each time I saw her and I’d read oodles of websites looking for an ‘aha’ moment.
After months of trying with my own little guy and having seen countless clients with fussy-eating kids in my health coaching business, I now have a few tricks up my sleeve that really do work. Before I share, I want to reiterate that the annoying statistic we’ve all heard a billion times but is so, so true. It’s the one that suggests that it can take up to 10 tries of something before your babe will actually like what you’re feeding them. Although it’s incredibly annoying, it kind of makes it easier knowing that each time they try it you’re a step closer to them liking it, right?
So having said that, here are 5 ways that will get you halfway to having your kids enjoying their greens.
1. Hide, hide, hide it (for the first little while anyway…) I’m often ‘hiding’ broccoli in pasta sauce, pesto, pancakes and even chocolate brownies. Chop it up and pop it ‘in’ rather than on the side.
2. Make it taste yah-meeeee… This has been a huge lesson for me. My babes really don’t like bland food. They’ll have Thai, Indian and Mexican food and hoover it all down – they LOVE the flavours. So think of your kids’ favourite cuisine and then mirror that on the greens you’re serving. Maybe they love pizza? So grate some cheese on top of broccoli, beans or peas (or even add them to your pizza). If Thai noodles are their thing, top their greens with a dash of soy sauce and chopped peanuts.
3. Cut it, dice it, slice it – do whatever it takes to make it look different… A big piece of broccoli can be overwhelming for a little one, especially if they’ve tried it once or twice before and aren’t 100% on board. Try chopping it up into cubes and giving them a little toothpick fork to use. That’s fun, right? Or slice it thinly and add it in between your layers of potato in a gratin. Grating it with a vegetable or two that they do like and adding a little cheese is another great way to get it in too.
4. Chat about the ‘why-why-why’ it’s good for them. This is one of the biggest ways you can empower your babe – tell them why eating green vegetables is great and let them choose to eat it. Honestly, it’s not as crazy as it may seem. My little guy is 3 now and LOVES diggers and dump trucks so often we’ll talk about the how the digger is so strong because he eats his broccoli. It works a treat! Maybe it’s an animal they love which eats vegetables too? Get on their level and empower them with the knowledge that broccoli is great for strong bones (think of all the things you could lift) and has oodles of Vitamin C (you won’t get sick anymore so you’ll be able to play all day long).
5. Walk your talk mumma…put some on your plate too. Kids want what you’re having 95% of the time – it’s just the annoying expectation of trying to sit down for your own food with a young one about. So always, always lead by example. If you want them eating a certain way, you have to do it too (and enjoy it).
Tell me, is your babe bad with broccoli and other green things? Do you think one of these tips could work? Are there any tips you swear by? Please let me know in the comments below so all the Mumtastic mummas can try them too.
More ways to create good eaters:
- 7 Things I’ve Learned From My Kids’ Eating Habits
- Recognising Proper Food Portions for Healthy Eating
- Tasty and Healthy Swaps for Kids’ Favourite Junk Food
Image: Stacey Clare / Graphic: Mumtastic