Don’t Hide the Vegetables

Don't hide the vegetables in your toddlers food. alexismathews.com

Are you a parent of a toddler (or 3 like myself)?

It is well known and often times thoroughly discussed among toddler parents that children generally dislike vegetables with a passion. So much so in fact that parents have had to take extreme measures to make sure their children are getting sufficient servings of vegetables everyday. Or perhaps, if you child is a steadfast non-vegetable eater you are happy with a few servings a week.

I have also sat in on many a conversation with my mom friends as they discussed the various and ingenious ways that they had crafted to hide vegetables in their child’s food.  From cutting them up into teeny weeny pieces and adding them to spaghetti sauce. I have even heard Moms discuss various smoothie recipes they create which effectively hide nutritious servings of vegetables.

I will be the first person to tell you that sometimes these extreme measures are necessary. Especially for children that have not grown up with undisguised vegetables on their serving plate. 

There are a few reasons why hiding vegetables can become necessary:

  1. As I mentioned above, hiding vegetables can become necessary when a child has not grown up seeing vegetables served on their plate.
  2. Secondly, it is a well known fact that children look to their parents for food guidance. If the parents aren’t eating vegetables themselves then the children certainly won’t either.
  3. Lastly, sometimes parents give up too quickly when trying to serve their children a new vegetable. If the child refuses once, most parents won’t try again. You have to serve a child a food regularly to expose them to it and eventually they will learn to like it.

As a mother of three toddlers, twin three year old girls and a younger two year old son, I can vehemently say that I do not hide vegetables from my toddlers or any of my children for that matter. I can also attest to the fact that my children all get a hearty daily serving of vegetables each and every day, pure, unadulterated, and prominent on their plate.

The inspiration for this post came this evening as I was sitting down to eat my dinner. As usual my toddlers had finished early and came to see what Mom was eating. Again as usual, they wanted what was on my plate. Tonight it was lightly sautéed green beans, broccoli, and zucchini. I ate maybe three bites of my vegetables before two of my toddlers devoured every last bite on my plate. Yes, they ate green beans, broccoli, and zucchini right off of my plate without the slightest bit of disguise.

How did I teach my children, including my 2 and 3 year olds to enjoy vegetables?

Simple, I didn’t make a big deal out of vegetables. I never stressed over whether they were getting enough vegetables in their daily diet. Slowly but surely they learned to enjoy the fresh veggies they were regularly served. And that is the key, we regularly serve fresh veggies to all of our children. We don’t smother them in salt, butter, or any other things to mask the taste. Our vegetables are typically lightly sautéed in EVOO or in fresh green salads, nothing more nothing less. 

Also, my children see my husband and I happily eating our vegetables everyday. They haven’t grown up with the concept that vegetables are something to be avoided. We happily embrace our vegetables, even before we chose a vegan lifestyle. 

Lastly, don’t stress over your child eating vegetables. Trust me when I say that if you regularly serve your child vegetables they will learn to eat them, you just have to stop hiding them in the first place.

To summarize, how to teach your children to enjoy vegetables;

  1. Don’t make a big deal out of eating and enjoying vegetables.
  2. Let your children see you eat the same vegetables you served them on their plate.
  3. Don’t stress over how many vegetables your child is eating, they will learn to love them. You just have to stop hiding them.

I’d like to encourage you to stop hiding the vegetables in your toddler’s food but rather serve them in their natural whole state. By doing so you are beginning to teach your children to love vegetables, not avoid them.

What is your child’s favorite vegetable? 

If you are looking for some toddler friendly recipes which include vegetables you might enjoy Incredible Indian Pancakes, Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup, or Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad

Comments

  1. Stak says

    I agree with you 100% about not hiding veggies. I think kids learn to hate them because everyone assumes they will. I hope to never have to “hide” veggies from my son however he’s becoming increasingly picky when it comes to eating them, and I think a big part of the is sensory. He doesn’t like things with skins, like tomatoes, zucchini, peas, ect and he wont eat any green leafy things because he wont chew them properly and gags on them. He’ll eat roast veggies and sometimes corn but thats about it, hated broccoli since he was one :/
    I find myself resorting to “hiding” them in smoothies and stuff because I need him to eat them (we’re vegan too), and I don’t want that to become a thing I always have to do. Any suggestions
    I know this is an old post so it’s a long shot you getting this 🙂

    • Alexis says

      Stak, I agree kids learn from association and what they see from their parents and adults around them. Kids also go through phases. Blending and hiding a little bit during one of those phases is fine but never stop presenting veggies to your kids in their true form. Even if they don’t eat them, they will eventually and you want to make eating veggies as normal as eating anything else that they are served.

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