23 April 2008

How to get a toddler to eat vegetables

Glenda is worried about vegetables, which reminded me that I've been meaning to share a trick. The best way to get un-cheesed vegetables into Dad is with a salad (and he only like homemade vinaigrettes, so even the dressing cost and calorie count is low). I can't deal with the babies eating salad; it's too messy and my almost 2-yr-old won't touch anything green on her plate. Making salad is a time consuming pain in the neck (budget and quality standards preclude the pre-bagged kind), so I usually do it in the morning after breakfast when the baby is still in a good mood. Here's the trick part: the kids think it's some kind of treat to eat the leavings. They all stand around anxiously, waiting for me to toss them a romaine rib, a broccoli stump, the end of a carrot, etc--even Little Miss Too Cool To Eat Vegetables. They eat a LOT of vegetables this way. ???

I don't know if other kids would fall for this, but I rely heavily on this method, so it didn't seem right not to tell you.

12 comments:

Reb. Mary said...

I've got a similar strategy that I especially rely on for BoyOne, whose suspicion of anything green/crunchy borders on paranoia.

In fact, my kids BEG for veggies when they're prepared with this secret recipe. Since I'm learning so much from everyone on this blog, I'll share it for FREE instead of marketing it for millions.

Here it is: wait until you're deep in dinner prep and the hungry hordes are wailing around your knees. Then say, well, it'll be a few more minutes till supper, but I guess I could give you some special appetizers, if you'll sit quietly while I work. Then you open your freezer, pull out some frozen veggies (peas and corn seem to be universal pleasers), dump them into little bowls, and let the kids sit there on the kitchen floor to eat them. Cooking the veggies is totally optional; some kids eat them better frozen (especially teethers).

Bonus: If the weather's nice and Dad's grilling, they can sit on the back step with their appetizers to watch him grill. Voila, your kids are eating veggies and you've got the kitchen to yourself!

Reb. Mary said...

I should add that BoyOne is in the preschool range rather than the toddler one; but we've been pulling this trick on him for so long that he thinks it's normal :) Might be harder to pull off for a preschooler whose parents aren't so deviously evil. But the toddlers--notoriously gullible (well, sometimes).

Reb. Mary said...

Almost forgot my other secret recipe: BrocclMac. Some would consider it cheating since it falls into the "cheesed" category, but since most of us feed our kids mac n cheese at least occasionally, why not make the most of it? While you're cooking the noodles (whole wheat, of course :) ), nuke some frozen broccoli and then puree it with the milk or evaporated milk, whichever you use. Stir it into the noodles with the cheese. The finished product is a lovely shade of green, but so far removed from its original form that suspicious little minds can't quite comprehend what's happened. Heighten their confusion by giving it a fun name like shamrock-mac. After a year of tricking BoyOne like this, his tastebuds actually adjusted to the point where he'll now sometimes eat steamed broccoli in its original form. Well, as long as we let him add his own "special sprinkles"--lemon pepper, another fast and low-cal trick that sometimes works around here for steamed mixed veggies too. But I don't think the boy has ever eaten a piece of raw spinach or lettuce in his life!

Rebekah said...

Ours think frozen peas (still frozen) are the best thing ever, too. What gives? And why should green macaroni and cheese be any less unsettling than that bright orange stuff?

Gauntlets said...

Frozen peas are the greatest things ever, that's why. Once cooked, twice shy.

Glenda said...

OH you braggers! Between you and my sil whose kids are like rabbits, I must be failing. But really....my oldest four do pretty well. All of them lover raw carrots and celery and will choke down a raw pepper, all of them like salad (yes I use spinach in my salad), all of them like peas and broccoli and corn and green beans, most of them will choke down fried rice and vegetable soup.

But my youngest is the most picky, and he is the one I think I've most failed. Maybe because he was the third one in 2.5 years and we moved when he was 2 months, but somehow, I must have lost the energy to give him food except what he liked in order to keep him quiet. Oh well, he is getting better, he'll at least eat one bite of a vegetable with each meal. which is btw, how we got all of ours to eat. What I cook is on your plate and you have to eat it (even starting out with ridiculously small amounts) before any seconds are given. I even, gasp, save it for the next meal if they are stubborn. Because by golly, I'm more stubborn than you and I'm going to win this battle! LOL - how's that for parenting? :-)

Rebekah said...

You're one up on me if you can get the next meal strategy to work. My crew called an oatmeal strike a few months back and I caved after three meals of silent tears dripping into full bowls. !!

Reb. Mary said...

Glenda: I too am convinced that stubbornness one-upmanship is a cornerstone of successful parenting :) (But, I still lose some battles. They just have more energy than I do nowadays).
Rebekah: My husband led the oatmeal strike in these parts, so I didn't have a chance!

Rebekah said...

Glenda, how did you survive that baby spread?!

And what is it with husbands and oatmeal?

elephantschild said...

My kid won't touch a green bean in the house, but pull them out of the garden, chuck 'em in the wading pool, and voila! A legumes-consumin' shark materializes.

We often use the reverse psychology trick. Set the bowl down on parent's end of the table and say, "You probably won't like these."

Works 80 percent of the time when introducing a new or seldom seen veggie. :)

Glenda said...

Rebekah,

I don't know how I survived, but I must have; I'm still here and I still have 5 children! But of course, I haven't had any since, if that tells you anything. ;-)

Husbands and oatmeal - I don't know, mine can't stand it, says it is the texture. So we have it every Tuesday morning since that is the day he is off at Bible breakfast. OF course child number 5 would eat it every day, if I made it, he loves the stuff.

Reb. Mary said...

Wading pool: rock on! Can't wait to break ours out and try that one :)
Bobbing for veggies...