41 Tips On How to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables!
It’s the age old question: How do I get my toddler to eat vegetables? It’s like as babies we can puree any fruit or vegetable under the sun and they will devour it. But suddenly when they become toddlers our kids refuse to eat anything but crackers, pizza, pasta and fries.
While feeding them this can reduce the meal time battles, it doesn’t give them the full range of vitamins and nutrients they need. Plus, we want to make healthy eating a part of their lifestyle so that it isn’t a struggle for them to eat healthy as they get older (like it is for us).
My 2 year old used to downright refuse to eat if we didn’t have her favorite crackers, pasta or pizza. Now I can actually get her to have veggies at every meal with some creative tactics.
Below you will find a ton of tips on how to get your kids to eat healthy. This includes tactics for each meal and then general tactics which can encourage them to eat veggies. Not everything will work with every kid, but find the ones that work for you and your family.
What can I feed my picky toddler for breakfast?
1. Try veggie pancakes or waffles.
You can fold finely shredded zucchini or carrots into your pancake or waffle batter and cook as usual. You can also throw some pumpkin or squash purée into pancake or waffle mix to fit in an extra serving of veggies into your meal.
2. Make egg muffins with veggies.
Egg muffins are a quick on the go breakfast that can be made ahead of time and are a great way to sneak in some veggies. Just preheat oven to 350°F. Chop vegetables and cook in 1 teaspoon of oil until tender crisp or excess liquid is removed. Cool.
Spray a muffin tin very well with cooking spray. Divide the vegetables over the 12 wells of your tin and sprinkle with shredded cheddar. In a large bowl combine 12 eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour eggs evenly over each well. Bake 22-25 minutes or until set. Remove from cups and serve warm or let cool completely and refrigerate/freeze.
3. Add minced broccoli to scrambled eggs.
Adding minced broccoli to your scramble doesn’t change the texture of eggs but it does give your kiddos an entire serving of vegetables.
4. Have mousse for breakfast.
Of course I mean an avocado mousse. Just throw the following ingredients into a blender and serve. Your kiddos will have no idea that they are eating avocado and not regular pudding.
Ingredients: flesh of 2 ripe avocados, 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder, 1/4 cup dutch cocoa, 3-4 tbsp milk of choice, 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
5. Have a frittata.
Having a breakfast frittata is a great way for the entire family to have a healthy veggie filled breakfast. This is the perfect breakfast for weekend mornings when you have a little more time. Broccoli, onion, and peppers are great veggies to add to this.
6. Whip up a smoothie
Smoothies are my absolute favorite way to have veggies in the morning. They are quick to make, can be prepped in advance, and can be taken on the go. Just be sure to wash out those containers that day or you will have quite a smell.
Go here to find a bunch of smoothie recipe ideas, if you need some inspiration.
7. Mix cauliflower into scrambled eggs.
Like broccoli, cauliflower is another vegetable that can be easily added to eggs. You can steam and purée it or finely grate it. Then incorporate it into the egg mixture before you scramble it up.
8. Bake veggies into muffins.
In my house muffins come second only to cupcakes. I’m pretty sure my 2 year old thinks that they are just an unfrosted cupcake and will dive into them just as quickly.
That said, muffins are a great place to serve vegetables to toddlers. I really love this recipe from The Busy Baker since it is super simple and it doesn’t have big chunks of veggies that my kids would frown upon.
9. Bake an egg in an avocado.
While this is something that I have tried for myself, but has yet to work with my kiddos. On the other hand I know some people who have gotten their kiddos to eat this so I thought I’d share.
It’s a great way to get some healthy fats and some protein and one little package.
10. Make your hollandaise healthier.
Hollandaise is not exactly the healthiest sauce, but you can definitely make your own healthier version. Try this avocado hollandaise to get some more greens into your breakfast.
What can I feed my picky toddler for lunch?
11. Add veggies to mac and cheese.
Everyone loves a good mac and cheese. Whether you make it from scratch or make it from the box, this is a good place to add in some vegetables. My kids’ favorite are peas, but you can also add tomatoes or broccoli.
12. Use lettuce for wraps.
Lots of toddlers like to lunch on wraps. Turkey and cheese is a popular one. Instead of using a tortilla try using lettuce as the exterior of your wrap.
13. Add veggies to grilled cheese.
A basic grilled cheese isn’t the healthiest option, but it’s something I know my kids will eat. So add a little gusto with some veggies in the sandwich. Spinach or arugula, tomato, and avocado are great options.
14. Make vegetarian quesadillas.
My kids are known for eating quesadillas filled with cheese and nothing else. However, quesadillas are a great opportunity to throw in a bunch of veggies. You can add corn, black beans, peppers, avocados, onions… the list goes on and on.
15. Add veggies to your burger patties.
Try adding chopped mushrooms to your burgers or taco tuesday recipes. You can also add mushrooms or veggie purees to other ground beef recipes like meatloaf.
16. Add veggies to marinara sauce.
Tomato sauce is a great place to add veggies! Just puree your favorite veggies and add them to the sauce.
17. Make your own spread.
Mix together some butternut squash purée and grated cheese. I personally like some sharp cheddar. You’ve just made a tasty spread that can be used on grilled cheese, quesadillas, or pizzas.
18. Make some veggie fries.
You don’t have to settle for white potatoes as your only fries option. Slice up some zucchini or carrots, lightly bread, and bake until crispy. You can also add some olive oil, salt, and pepper to sliced sweet potatoes for another fries option.
19. Spice up salad dressing.
Try replacing the usual ranch or oil and vinegar dressing with a veggie-based dressing. Some ideas can be found over at The Full Helping. Veggie dressing on a veggie salad is a double win.
If your kiddo shys away from salad, you can also use dressings on meat to get those veggies in.
20. Replace potato chips with kale chips.
Grab some kale and lightly coat it in oil. Then sprinkle on some sea salt and bake. Now you have some chips for your kiddos to munch on that are much healthier than regular potato chips.
What can I feed my picky toddler for dinner?
21. Add some color to your pizza.
Kids love pizza and while plain cheese is usually their go to, try adding some veggies to their pie. You can add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, or any other veggies your kids like. I personally like pepper because you can add a variety of colors.
22. Sneak spinach into your pizza.
When you are making your pizza, before you add the sauce, spread a layer of spinach puree over the dough. Your kids won’t even be able to see it in the finished pie, but they will be getting a whole serving of veggies or more.
23. Add veggie purée to chicken soup.
Did you know that you can infuse veggies into your classic chicken soup recipe? Just add a can of puréed tomatoes, squash, or potato. Not only will it thicken up your soup, but it will also add some great veggies.
24. Add veggies to your chili or stew.
Add carrots, sweet potato, or butternut squash purée to any chili or stew recipe.
25. Try serving vegetable noodles
Instead of serving regular pasta, whip up some zoodles or bake a spaghetti squash and serve that with pasta sauce.
26. Bake veggies into bread.
Zucchini bread is a great way to get a serving of veggies into your carb loving kiddo. You can also try this garden harvest bread.
27. Make some veggie burgers in place of regular burgers.
Whether homemade or store bought, veggie burgers are a great way to sneak veggies into a meal that your kids already love.
28. Sneak them into casseroles.
Casseroles are another great medium for delivering veggies into your kids’ bellies. Finely shredded zucchini or summer squash can be added to practically any casserole without changing the taste or the texture!
29. Make pasta dishes with some extra veggies.
Now this may not work so well if your kids just do butter on their pasta, but if they enjoy sauce, you can add veggies to the sauce. Things like spinach or mushrooms or basil can work really well.
30. Herbs are a great way to add greens.
It’s easy to add some herbs to almost any rice, pasta, or grain dish. You can also add some pesto as a condiment on a sandwich.
How can I sneak vegetables into desserts?
31. Disguise greens in brownies.
These spinach brownies use puréed spinach in the mixture to add an extra dose of greens to your dessert. Don’t worry, you won’t even taste it!
32. Make chocolate cake with cauliflower.
A chocolate cake is a great way to hide some cauliflower or pumpkin. If you can’t imagine cake and cauliflower together, make avocado frosting for an extra serving of healthy nutrients!
33. Try some sweet potato brownies.
The fact is, chocolate is basically the best way to hide veggies in pretty much anything. I mean what kid doesn’t love chocolate. Another chocolate sweet to add to the list are these sweet potato brownies.
34. Veggify your cookie dough.
Another great trick is to add carrots or sweet potato purée to chocolate chip cookies. They will be just as yummy but will give your kiddos a nice dose of veggies.
35. Add avocados to pudding.
One of my kids’ favorite desserts is chocolate pudding. With this recipe you can get loaded up on healthy fats and nutrients in a avocado pudding.
36. Hide veggies in baked goods.
As much as I love chocolate, it’s not the only way to sneak veggies into desserts. There are plenty of ways to slip vegetables into other baked goods. Substitute white-bean puree for some of the butter in cookie recipes; bake a package of pureed frozen spinach into brownie mix ; add shredded zucchini or carrots to sweet muffins and breads; hide beets in chocolate cake or pureed carrots and squash in yellow cakes; or mix pumpkin into pancake batter. Who said baked goods can’t be good for you?
General tactics to get your child to eat vegetables
37. Incorporate more vegetables into a favorite dish.
Are there dishes that your kids already love? My kids love taco tuesdays, stir fry, and they really love pasta. Try adding more veggies into these dishes. Add a veggie filled salsa to their tacos or add veggies to the pasta sauce.
Think of the dishes they already love and see if you can add veggies to those.
38. Continue to introduce (and re-introduce) vegetables.
Just because you child said no to a veggie once, doesn’t mean they will never like them. It can take time for their palate to develop and enjoy some veggies. Don’t give up.
Try reintroducing the veggies in different ways. Try cooking it in different ways or serving it with different foods.
39. Appearance is important.
If food doesn’t look appetizing, no one wants to eat it. Make sure the food you serve your kiddos looks good which implies it will taste good. Use a variety of colors. Serve it on fun, colorful plates and dishes.
Making food and eating it look good will make your kid more likely to try the food.
40. Make it fun.
I know we can’t make all our meals look like happy faces or fun unicorns. Ain’t nobody got time for that. When possible, especially when trying new foods, make it look fun.
If you’re making veggie pancakes, make a smiley face on top with some blueberries. Or use cookie cutters to make them fun shapes.
If you make zoodles, call them hulk noodles to make it more fun. Use the veggies you add to your pizza to make a rainbow or a sun or a smiley face. Use your imagination!
41. Let eating veggies be more interactive.
A great way to get your kiddos to eat veggie filled foods is to have them help you make it. When the kiddos are working in the kitchen, they want to eat the fruits of their labor. Use this to your advantage. Let them be your sous chef.
You can also treat trying new foods as an experiment. Study the food. Make a guess as to how it will taste. Try it and see if you are right.
That was a lot of tips!
Not all of these will work with your toddler, but a lot will. Start slowly. Try one thing at a time and see what hits and what misses.
Making you kiddo a veggie lover won’t happen overnight, but it is totally possible. In time you can get your toddler to eat vegetables in every meal. Just take your time, don’t stress, and try to make it a fun experience for everyone, including yourself.
If you would like more tips to ease the entire family into healthy eating you can get a PDF with helpful tips here.
Emily is a busy mom passionate about helping other moms with organization, time management, and self care. On top of wrangling her three kids, she is a wife, professional dancer, dance teacher, insurance adjuster, founder of a nonprofit, and pageant queen. You can find more of her resources for busy moms at The Multitasking Mom Site.