Nutrition Experts

Question:
My three-year-old daughter refuses to eat vegetables. What can I do to get her to like them?
Answer:
Becoming more independent is part of "toddlerhood," so turning up her nose at vegetables may be your daughter's way of asserting her independence. Be patient and try these tips for raising a vegetable lover:

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Let her pick. Ask your child to choose which veggie to have for lunch or dinner. Providing two or three choices such as broccoli, carrots or red peppers strips is plenty and gives her a feeling of control.

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Assign a task. Kids who help prepare vegetables are usually more willing to taste their creations. Even three-year-olds can scrub potatoes, tear lettuce for a salad, or put broccoli spears in a bowl.

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Pull the old switcheroo. If your child won't eat a certain vegetable, offer a similar one instead. For example, if carrots are on the "no" list, try a baked sweet potato. Or prepare the dreaded veggie in a different form, such as raw baby carrots or cooked carrot coins.

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Dress it up. Many kids will eat vegetables they can dip. Offer a bit of salad dressing, salsa or ketchup on the side. Or, melt shredded cheese over broccoli or cauliflower.

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Try, try again. Kids may need to taste a food 10 to 15 times before they learn to like it. And there are some foods your child may never like, which is okay. But don't be afraid to offer a vegetable your child has refused in the past. Keep putting it on her plate and don't make a big deal about it. She may surprise you one week and announce it's her new favorite!

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Relax. Don't worry if your daughter refuses to eat her green beans one night. It's what she eats over several days, not just one meal, that counts. And be a good role model yourself by eating your veggies, too.
Nutritionist Experts
Our Nutrition Experts are registered dietitians who hold master's degrees and are members of the American Dietetic Association and several specialty nutrition groups. They combine over 40 years experience in food and nutrition science, communications and counseling, the culinary arts and the development of nutrition education materials. They are quoted frequently in the national media and have written about nutrition for many major magazines, newspapers, and newsletters.