What’s even more important than getting your kids to eat vegetables? Getting your kids to eat and ENJOY vegetables!

These have been shown to be the best ways to increase the odds that your kids will eat and ENJOY vegetables. In addition, one very popular trick will be successful in getting your kids to eat vegetables – but it will make them even more UNLIKELY to enjoy vegetables in the long-term.

#4 Introduce a Wide Variety of Vegetables from 6 to 12 Months
There is a great window of opportunity between 6 – 12 months of age when your child will want to try new foods and will be more accepting of new foods. Later he will naturally become more skeptical of any “new” foods – even if he’s seen and eaten it before. Introducing your child to as wide a variety of vegetables and textures as possible before she reaches this stage can maximize the number of foods that your child will accept.

#3 – Present Vegetables in a Neutral Manner
Don’t have a pre-conceived idea about what your child will and won’t enjoy. If you have a defeatist attitude “I know that Billy will hate broccoli”, your child will pick up on the negativity. The same holds true if you make a big deal out of the fact that he does like something “Wow, you like Brussels Sprouts”. Kids are smart, they’ll pick up on the underlying message that Brussels Sprouts are something NOT to like and chances are that your child will announce that he doesn’t like them the next time you serve them.

#2 – Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Many kids go through a stage where they are skeptical of anything new. They’ll announce that they “hate” something before they’ve even tried it. This is a normal stage of your child’s development. Just like how babies will suddenly “make strange” with people. Estimates of the average number of exposures to a new food before kids accept it range from 5 to 30! If spinach is something that you regularly eat in your house, keep eating it regularly. The underlying message for your child is that in your house, people eat spinach. Your child will eventually try it – and she may like it – or not. Try different recipes and preparations, cooked spinach as a side dish, spinach salad, spinach in stirfry – any way that you enjoy eating it.

#1 – Eat Vegetables Yourself
Actions speak louder than words and little ones watch every move that we make. The number one most successful way to make sure that your kids don’t eat vegetables is to not eat vegetables yourself. So, be a vegetable-loving role model. And, have all the important adults in your child’s life be vegetable-loving role models.

1 Trick NOT to Use
DON’T sneak/ hide veggies! This is a popular trick. It’s tempting to do it out of concern that your child isn’t eating enough veggies. While you will win the battle to eat vegetables in the short term – you will lose the long-term war of getting your kids to eat and ENJOY veggies. Kids are smart and will catch on sooner or later. They will learn that veggies (and food in general) are something to be suspicious about. It will erode their trust in food and in you. They will also learn that veggies are something awful that need to be hidden. When you aren’t around to hide them, they will be less likely to choose veggies. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t add pureed veggies to soups, pasta sauces, baking, etc. If you like the recipe, use it. It’s the intention that is important. Ask yourself – are you hiding the vegetable or are you adding it because you enjoy the taste?