This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch.
Henry’s pediatrician had advised us that instead of forcing young children to eat veggies, we should try either sneaking them into foods (like soups, quesadillas, green smoothies) or playing games to make it fun for the kid to eat them. We’ve stuck to the later since Henry’s a very observant eater and it has worked pretty well.
But I’d love to hear what works for your kids or how your parents got you to eat veggies growing up? My parents always made us eat vegetables first, before anything else on the plate. It’s a habit that I still keep now!
Trick 1. Henry is big on identifying colors and shapes, and of course any kind of game makes everything easier. Trying to eat a rainbow of veggies is a great way to make it fun. Sometimes he’ll try that pepper he wouldn’t normally try because he needs to get a yellow in his rainbow! Sometimes we make faces with them too on the plate. Storing them in mason jars in the fridge, rainbow colors of course, is a fun way to get them excited about eating their veggies.
“Look! There’s a rainbow in the fridge all ready for you to eat!”, and “Did you eat all your colors of the rainbow today?”
Trick 2. We’ve started a new reward system beyond sticker charts. There’s a jar where we put beans in for good behavior (like trying a new vegetable at dinner). Beans also get taken away for bad behavior. When he reaches a line on the jar, he gets a prize! And when the jar is filled he gets something bigger (we haven’t gotten there yet so I’m still unsure what this will be. Maybe a special date with mom and dad?).
Henry even helped me come up with the list of what behaviors should warrant new beans added and what behaviors should warrant beans being taken away; and how many. My favorite part was him suggesting that if he poked another kid in the eye (demonstrating a bit too close to my own eye of course) we should take away all the beans. But. if he spit on someone- well that’s doesn’t really hurt anyone- so only 5 beans should be taken away. Noted.
Every night at dinner we offer an incentive to try new vegetables and other foods with the promise of more beans! Oh the agony this creates when he realizes how much he wants those beans! He loves to pick out the few he earned after dinner and place them in the jar himself.
Keep reading to see my favorite strategy of all for getting Henry to eat those vegetables!
Trick 3. At age 4, Henry is really into comparing himself to babies. Well, let’s be honest, comparing himself to anyone really! Sometimes we use a little reverse psychology on him, telling him “I don’t think 4 yr olds eat broccoli. That seems like something a 6 or 7 yr old can do. Maybe when he gets older he’ll like them”.Or, “Babies can’t eat vegetables. They don’t have teeth! Those silly babies! It’s a good thing you have teeth and a strong jaw to chew those vegetables”. In no time, he’ll be chomping away. Works every time!
I’d love to hear your tricks though. What do you do to get your kids to eat their veggies and like them?