Helping your Child Learn to Love Vegetables!

Posted by

Breanne Haeger, MOT, OTR/L

Time to read

2 minutes

Does your child refuse to eat their vegetables? Or maybe they did were younger and then stopped eating vegetables as they got older?

We know this can be very stressful for parents, who are concerned about their child getting all the vitamins and nutrients veggies provide. You’re not alone!

Here are some quick tips for supporting your child’s exploration of vegetables in fun and inviting ways!

  1. Choose vegetables in a similar size, shape, and/or color to preferred foods
    • If your child loves oranges, peaches, or even goldfish, they might be more successful with orange vegetables. Offering preferred orange foods alongside an orange vegetable can help your child feel safe to explore the vegetable. 
  2. Freeze dried vegetables
    • Several brands sell “freeze dried” vegetables. These products look just like pieces of the vegetable, but have a crunchy texture. For children who love chips but may have textural aversions to vegetables, these are a good stepping stone to cooked/raw vegetables. 
  3. Dipping sauces
    • If your child loves ketchup, ranch, marinara (or, hey, even chocolate sauce!) you can give them the opportunity to dip vegetables into the sauce. They might play with it, lick it, or even eat it. The goal here is increasing exposure using a preferred food/flavor. 
  4. Veggie fries!
    • Cut veggies into fry shapes and roast them in the oven at about 400-450 degrees. Some of our favorites are parsnips and jicama (white color and similar texture to potatoes). Carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini also make great fries.  You will find many recipes on Google or Pinterest. 
  5. Dice
    • Some of our little picky eaters prefer things that have smooth edges and are a uniform shape. Try cutting even dice from vegetables like cooked (or raw if your child is able to chew well) carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, or jicama. You can stack them, line them up, or simply just leave them on their plate and see if they engage. 
  6. Make shapes/numbers/pictures
    • Pinterest is a great place to look up fun food play ideas with different foods. You can make a face, a letter, a number, and more. Having fun and being creative with foods invites play, and play brings more comfort and familiarity to the vegetables. 
  7. Veggie stamps!
    • This one is more a food play activity, but it will help your little one get comfortable looking at and touching vegetables. The end of a bunch of celery makes a rose-like stamp. Potatoes can be cut into a variety of shapes. Broccoli tops make interesting patterns. Use finger paints, or sauces if you want it to be fully edible! The possibilities are endless!

We invite you to get creative and silly with these ideas or any others. Modeling feeling relaxed, safe, and playful around vegetables helps your kiddos do the same. 🙂

Happy vegetable exploring!