Our 5 Tips for How To Make Kids Eat Vegetables
  /   Dr. John Snow

Our 5 Tips for How To Make Kids Eat Vegetables

Kids are notorious for avoiding their vegetables. This is due to a variety of reasons. Many kids prioritize the foods they like, like macaroni and cheese, over foods they deem as bland or boring, like cucumbers or green beans. They’ll fill up on the snacks they love and leave their least favorite foods behind. 

Some kids don’t like the texture or earthy flavor of vegetables. They might think they look weird. They’re going to have to do a little exploring before they understand why vegetables are good for them and how vegetables can be delicious. It’s going to take a little help from you. Here’s how to make them eat vegetables in a sustainable, stress-free way.

How Can I Trick My Child Into Eating Vegetables?

You should never trick your child into eating vegetables. By attempting to trick your child, you’re setting a foundation for mistrust. Children are smart, and they’re often able to figure out when they’re being tricked or deliberately misled. Your child only needs to catch you in the act one time to be suspicious of your intentions every time you serve a meal. 

In addition to setting a foundation for mistrust, tricking your child doesn’t actually fix the problem. 

The goal is to help your child develop a functional relationship with healthy foods. They aren’t doing that if you’re sneaking the food into their diet. When they’re more independent and making their own food choices, they simply won’t eat vegetables. 

Should I Force My Kid to Eat Vegetables?

The message you’re trying to send is that vegetables are just as good as any other food. You wouldn’t force your kids to eat chicken nuggets or pizza, and you shouldn’t force them to eat broccoli or asparagus.

Forcing your child to eat vegetables is just as detrimental as tricking them into eating vegetables. When you force your child to do something, it begins to feel like a punishment or a chore. You don’t want your child to grow up to resent healthy foods. When they’re independent, they’ll avoid the foods they resent. They’ll also use the refusal as a form of rebellion.

What Do You Do if Your Child Won’t Eat Vegetables?

It can be frustrating when your child won’t eat healthy foods. As a parent, you want your child to grow and thrive. If you can’t get them to voluntarily eat vegetables, you’re naturally going to be concerned for their wellbeing. 

Don’t panic. You need to act like it's strange that they won’t eat vegetables, model better behavior, teach them about the importance of nutrition, and let them explore. 

Children will come to their own conclusions regarding which vegetables they do and don’t like. If you can get a few into your regular rotation that your child will usually eat, 

How To Make Kids Eat Vegetables

First things first, eliminate the word “make” from your vocabulary in this context. Your goal should be to get kids interested in or open to the idea of voluntarily eating vegetables. Encouragement and exploratory processes will go a long way.

Lead By Example with Vegetables

If you’re not the best at eating your vegetables, your child won’t take you seriously when you tell them that they need to. The “do as I say, not as I do” model of parenting isn’t especially effective. 

Children tend to learn from their environments and mimic their role models. If they don’t see you doing something, they’re going to be less inclined to do it if it isn’t something they’re particularly interested in doing. 

If your child regularly sees you cleaning your plate, vegetables included, you’re modeling the right behavior. You don’t necessarily need to go out of your way to call attention to the fact that you ate and enjoyed your vegetables unless your child shows an outward interest in mimicking you or being like you. It’s merely a matter of putting your money (or in this case, your vegetables) where your mouth is. 

Introduce a Wide Variety of Vegetables

If your child hates sweet potatoes, that isn’t the end of the line. There are dozens of other vegetables they may enjoy. You never know what your child may or may not like, and you can’t assume or rule things out. A child who doesn’t like a vegetable as simple as corn may love sauteed fennel or stir fried bok choy. 

You never know when you’re going to hit the vegetable jackpot. You should continuously try. Serving a new vegetable every night and taking notes of which ones are instant favorites and which ones show promise will help you better address your child’s dietary needs. 

It’s okay if your child doesn’t like half the vegetables they try. As long as they like the other half, you’ll eventually build up an arsenal of healthy side dishes. It’s more important to focus on the wins than the losses, and you can’t expect your child to like every single food you put in front of them. 

It’s important to remember that many healthy adults have lists of dislikes, and they’re getting along just fine. As long as your children are willing to give new foods an honest shot, that’s the best you can ask for.

Explain the Importance of Proper Nutrition

Children often have a lot of “why” questions. Although they can seem endless and meandering, answering as many of them as possible is essential. You need to help your child understand why they want to eat vegetables.

Your children brush their teeth because they know they don’t want to get cavities. They take a bath because they know they don’t want to smell bad or be dirty. Tell them why they need to eat their vegetables

Children know they want to grow up big and strong, and they know they don’t feel good when they’re sick. Explain to them how vegetables play a role in helping them grow and stay healthy. 

Tell them about how bell peppers contain vitamin C, which helps support their immune system while fighting bad germs. You can also tell them that spinach contains the calcium their bones need to grow tall and stay strong.

When they understand that the foods they choose help them achieve their goals to look, feel, and grow the way they want to, they’ll feel more inclined to incorporate vegetables into their diet. 

Grow Vegetables Together

If you have enough room in your yard for a small plot, get some seeds and grow some simple vegetables. Even toddlers can safely tend a vegetable garden with adult supervision. All they need is some seeds, plastic tools, and a watering can. 

Pick a few vegetables that are easy to grow to create edible produce quickly. Smaller varieties of tomato, snap peas, green beans, spinach, and zucchini will grow rather quickly. Help your child plant and tend to their own vegetable garden.

When it comes time to harvest, your child will have learned at least two important lessons. They’ll have a greater understanding of where their food comes from, and they’ll develop a better concept of responsibility. They’ll see how taking a few minutes every day to tend to their garden may help produce something great. 

Your child will likely be eager to taste the vegetables they grew themselves. They’ll want to know what they worked hard to achieve, and because they’re proud of themselves, they’ll probably believe that the vegetables they grew themselves are the best they ever tasted. 

This is also a great way to get children outside and active. If they enjoy the experience of growing their own food, encourage them to do it as often as they want. It’s a healthy and productive hobby that they can maintain throughout their life, and it isn’t costly to buy seeds and make your own compost. It’s much more economically efficient than many other hobbies or activities that many kids enjoy.

Cook Vegetables Together 

If your child likes to do things their own way, letting them select and help cook their own vegetables with your supervision might be the perfect way to get them interested in eating healthier. Your “let me do it!” child should learn how to cook by starting with their favorite meal recipes for pasta, tacos, and even hummus dip for their veggie snacks like carrots or cherry tomatoes. 

While young children shouldn’t slice vegetables, they can help season and stir vegetables while you cook or use cookie cutters to shape their sandwiches into dinosaurs.

Take your child to the grocery store and let them choose the vegetables they want to eat throughout the week. Bring them into the kitchen and let them take the lead. You can even act as their assistant. 

This will make your child feel more involved in meal planning. Over time, your child might develop an interest in cooking. This benefits your child as well as your whole household. 

You might have a budding chef in a young teenager who enjoys taking over the responsibility of preparing family dinner a few times a week. Encourage their interests and let them explore.

Helping Your Child Meet Their Nutritional Needs With Hiya

While it’s absolutely possible to encourage your child to enjoy vegetables, it’s unlikely to happen overnight. In the meantime, your child will need the vitamins and minerals they may not be getting while they’re still adapting to new foods. You should ask your child’s pediatrician if they may benefit from a multivitamin.

Hiya’s chewable children’s multivitamin contains many vitamins and minerals that picky eaters could use a little more of. It contains a lot of what your child needs and none of what your child doesn’t. 

Hiya is free from gummy junk, sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors. It’s truly fit for a healthier lifestyle, and kids love it. 


How to Shape & Manage Your Young Child’s Behavior | Healthy Children

Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet | Mayo Clinic

Teaching Kids to Cook | Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics