Top Tips To Encourage Babies and Toddlers To Eat Their Fruit and Vegetables
We all know fruit and vegetables are an important food group, but persuading babies and toddlers to eat them can be a battle. Even if your child absolutely refuses to eat vegetables it’s important to put some on their plate at every meal so they get used to seeing them.
Psychologists have found that once children become familiar with a food, they are more open to trying it, but you may need to present the same food on as many as ten separate occasions before your child feels comfortable eating it. While it’s important to put some vegetables on your child’s plate, many children find a large serving of vegetables off-putting, so it’s better to give them an amount you know they will eat and gradually increase the portion size:
1. Try to incorporate finely chopped vegetables such carrots, peppers and mushrooms into dishes like spaghetti bolognaise.
2. Rather than serving them as a side dish, incorporate vegetables into main dishes. For example, add a variety of vegetables to a meat and cheese lasagna.
3. When your child says they are hungry, offer them a piece of fruit rather than biscuit.
4. Serve raw strips of pepper or carrot with a dip such as hummus. If you serve them at the beginning of the meal when children are hungry they are more likely to eat them.
5. Mix cooked pureed spinach, carrots or shredded cabbage into mashed potatoes.
6. To encourage toddlers and older children to eat their vegetables, use a star chart where you award one star for each serving of fruit or vegetable eaten. Offer a treat such as a trip to the swimming pool or the park at the end of the week if they’ve made the target of five portions each day for a week.
7. Persuading children to eat fruit is usually less of a problem, but if children aren’t keen it can be used to make puddings or smoothies. To make fruit smoothies blend soft fresh fruit (berries, banana and, mangoes) or canned fruits such as apricots, peaches with low fat yoghurt and milk or fruit juice.
8. Stewed or fresh fruit make a great filling for pancakes. For savory pancakes try adding spinach and soft cheese, stir-fried vegetables or ratatouille.
9. Spread a mashed banana on toast in the morning instead of jam or marmalade or add a few chopped apricots or some fresh berries to cereal.
10. Toddlers learn by example, so make sure that they see you and older siblings eating and enjoying fruit and vegetables.
By Fiona Hunter, Nutritionist
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