Helping Your Child Like Vegetables
Helping your child to eat more vegetables
can be hard. Many vegetables are bitter in
flavor, which children try to avoid. With
effort, veggies can make their way onto your
Vegetables are like nature’s multivitamin.
They provide a perfect balance of vitamins
and minerals to support the body. They are
also a great source of fiber, carbohydrate
and some protein. Veggies provide benefits
that other food groups do not. Fruits and
veggies are not the same.
It is important to create an environment that
encourages even the pickiest children to try
new vegetables. Picky eating often starts in
the toddler and preschool years. This is
when children want to be more independent
in feeding themselves. Parents can support
these desires by knowing the different
feeding roles. Parents control the what,
when, where and how food is served. A child
controls how much is eaten.
A good goal is 1 to 1 ½ cups of vegetables
every day. This can be divided into three ½-
cup servings throughout the day. Vegetable
juices should be limited to ½ cup per day.
Children may eat more on a “hungry” day
and less on a “not-hungry” day. The
average is what counts!
When and where to eat?
Children do well when they are on a
schedule. Routine eating with scheduled
meal and snack times promotes healthy
habits and discourages grazing. It is also
ξ Eat at a table away from distractions
like TV, phones and other
ξ Eat after playtime. Your child will be
hungry and more relaxed.
ξ Eat together as a family.
What can I do?
ξ Be a good role model and enjoy
your veggies too!
ξ Do not assume children will dislike
ξ Offer plain vegetables at first.
Children many enjoy them without
ξ Serve vegetables with both meals
and snacks. Children may need to
see a vegetable 10-15 times before
they are ready to try it.
ξ At the store, invite your child to
pick out a new vegetable they want
ξ Grow a garden to teach your child
where vegetables come from. Try
patio tomatoes, purple green beans,
lettuce, beets or radishes.
ξ Allow children to help prepare a
meal. They can shuck peas, snap
green beans, pour frozen vegetables
into a bowl, place veggie pieces on a
pizza or assemble a sandwich with
lettuce and tomato.
ξ Point out fun facts about vegetables.
ξ Avoid using dessert as a bribe to eat
vegetables. Your child may then see
veggies as “yucky” next to the
ξ Create interest with veggie play and
serve them up in new ways!
New ways to serve veggies
ξ Most kids enjoy crunchy vegetables.
Slightly undercook steamed green
beans, carrot sticks or broccoli to
provide a crisp veggie with a
ξ Try roasting vegetables in the oven
to bring out their natural sweetness.
ξ Grate veggies such as squash,
carrots, zucchini or pumpkin and
add to muffin, bread, or pancake
batter or mix into spaghetti sauce,
chili or soup.
ξ Mix different vegetables and fruits
on a toothpick for a colorful snack.
ξ Use cookie cutters to create
cucumber moons or star-shaped
ξ Fill a celery slice with nut butter or
Greek yogurt and add raisin “ants”
along the top.
ξ Serve vegetables as a snack with a
healthy dip such as refried beans,
hummus, cottage cheese, guacamole
or a yogurt-based dressing.
ξ Use veggies for edible art with
carrot coins, green pepper
mustaches, broccoli trees or
ξ Bright Futures in Practice:
Nutrition, 2nd edition, Arlington, VA:
National Center for Education in
Maternal and Child Health 2002
ξ Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family,
by Ellyn Satter, Kelcy Press, 2008
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#240