How to make children want to eat vegetables?

When you are a parent, you know that it can be a real cross to make children eat vegetables. The toddler who refuses to swallow what is green is not a legend!

Feeding your child is one of the fundamental roles of parents. For the better, when the meal is a time for sharing, fun, discussions, the pleasure of being together, but also for the worse, when the child opposes, sulks, cries because he refuses to eat carrots or cauliflower.

Often, this aversion – or fear – of vegetables begins at the age of the “no”, around 18 months or around 2 years. It is then very disconcerting for the parents, whereas the diversification had gone well that this refusal to taste appears. Between 4 and 10 years is the great period of neophobia, that is to say the reluctance and / or rejection to eat new foods.

How to find the right behavior for parents or loved ones? Should we get angry, lose interest in what he ingests or even use trickery? The idea, above all, is to relieve guilt – it is indeed a completely normal phase. Here are some tips all the same so that some vegetables pass the step of their mouth.

6 tips to make children love vegetables

It’s certainly not easy to be refused every time when you present a vegetable, in the form of purees, gratins, etc., but a yes could one day come out of your child’s mouth. Specialists therefore recommend to present vegetables regularly, to persevere.

Our guests agree on this, you shouldn’t force a child to eat. The “you will leave the table when you have finished your plate” and other threats are no longer relevant. They recommend succeeding in implementing an approach without forcing and without blackmail. The negative context that this obligation would bring would favor blocking, by devaluing food. In addition, all recommend trusting the child’s appetite, which knows how to regulate itself. As an adult, we often lose this ability to regulate our needs. It therefore seems important to preserve it for as long as possible for children.

  • A framed and pleasant environment

The child must be well seated at the table. Avoid meals on the couch or in the bedroom. Limiting meal times to half an hour is also a good thing. Long dragging – with a child sulking over their plate of broccoli – is not recommended.

  • Put the child in contact with food

As has been said, the child should not be forced to eat, but it is possible, depending on the age, to encourage him to taste, to touch the food or at least to approach it. His fears could then be less strong. It can also be a good idea to tell him that if he doesn’t like it, he can spit it out! Thus, the pressure drops for the fearful child. Of course, it can be very hard for parents who have spent time cooking, often with love, to see the child barely sniff the preparation, but that is part of learning. Maybe ingestion and pleasure will be for the next attempt.

Some cooked vegetables do not appeal to children, because they find them too hard to chew, too fibrous, for example. In the show, it is also recommended not to offer double texture, with for example pieces in a mash, which is too confusing for the young child.

When they are a little older, the idea is to involve them, for example by going to the market or to the farm with them, so that they understand where the food comes from. If you can cook with the children, it is also very beneficial. It educates them – broccoli doesn’t grow in fridges! – and brings them pride in having accomplished something. They may be pleased with themselves and more likely to eat. You can also put condiments and oils on the table during the meal, and thus allow them to do their own little cooking. Sensory experiments are always good to take!

After having seen the recommendations and other tips, place the traps in which not to fall.

Pitfalls to avoid

  • Don’t put too much affect on it

It’s not easy to keep calm. But tension and stress do not necessarily help the situation. As far as possible of course, you should remain relaxed during the meal. It should be fun for everyone!

  • Avoid distractions

A trick that works in the short term, but which is harmful in the long term is to distract the child while he eats, to occupy his attention, by putting on a cartoon for example. He then eats automatically without worrying too much about the food, but it won’t work for long. Doing the plane from time to time with a spoon is not a problem, don’t worry!

Offering vegetables and then each refusal then bringing fries, is a tempting solution, and which allows the child to have something in the stomach, but in the long term he risks anticipating this second meal, and waiting for it.

Making fries with salsify and saying it’s potatoes seemed like a good technique, but then the child will no longer have confidence. He will be fooled once, but twice! And that would indicate that the salsify should be hidden, that it is not good. The signal given is not encouraging and devalues ​​the food. Without lying, techniques exist to make vegetables more attractive, but still naming the foods. There are many recipes like zucchini pasta or other sweet and savory gratins that make vegetables sexy!

Our guests

Alexia Challan Belvalclinical psychologist, co-author of Help my child is not eating anythingAlbin Michael.

Caroline Bachdietitian nutritionist and author, Baby food for dummiesFirst 2017 and Food diversification, First, September 2020

Angela FerrousMaeght, cook and naturopath. Author of the book My natural baby foodpublished by Marabout editions in November 2020

Sophie Nicklausresearch director at INRAE, works at the Center for Taste and Food Sciences, author of Children’s nutrition told to parents… Give your child a taste for eating wellQuae editions

Evelyn Debourgcanteen in a school in the Allier, 40 recipes to love them all year round, Fruits and vegetables, Glenat Youth

Julien Bisson – Chronicle “My life as a parent”.

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