Getting toddlers to eat their veggies - Easy ways to make kids eat vegetables

Mar 21, 2008 at 7:16 a.m. ET

Good eating habits start early. Therefore, it's very important to get your kids into the habit of eating their vegetables at a very young age. Vegetables provide many vitamins and minerals that are important for your children's development.

If getting your children to eat their veggies is proving a challenge, here are some easy methods that may help:

Make Mealtime Fun

Sometimes food is all about the presentation. Children like colorful choices, not just a pile of greens. Instead of feeding them a solitary vegetable, mix it up. Offer carrot sticks, cucumber slices, bell pepper strips and other vegetables in a bowl. Place a pita bread on a plate and have your toddler make a face on the pita using the vegetables. You can even offer a spoonful of hummus that they can use to "attach" the vegetables to the pita face.

Eat Your Own Vegetables

Set a good example for your kids. If you aren't eating your vegetables, you shouldn't expect your toddler to eat them either. Fill up a plate with salad or other green vegetables to eat while your children are eating.

Be Consistent

Serve at least one vegetable with each meal. Whether they are raw or cooked, make veggies part of your routine. Even if your toddler doesn't eat them initially, he will begin to get used to them over a period of time.

Three Bite Rule

Don't force your toddler to eat an entire portion of vegetables that they don't like. Keep the serving size small - about three bites - until your child begins to take a liking to the food. Don't get frustrated. If your child doesn't eat, don't force-feed them. Wait a reasonable amount of time and then remove the plate without fuss. If you make it a negative experience by raising your voice or forcing your child to eat, that will only perpetuate the problem because he will associate food with negativity.

Hide the Vegetables

Almost all toddlers love spaghetti. Hide vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach, peppers and others by blending them in your food processor and adding them to spaghetti sauce. If you use a small amount, it won't change the taste of the sauce much at all. Over time, you can increase the amount of vegetables that you use. Another way to hide vegetables is in muffins and baked goods. You can add shredded carrots, zucchini and other veggies to almost any bread recipe.

Healthy Kids