3 Tricks for Helping Kids Eat Veggies

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.

Below are three tricks I’ve found that works great for my 4 yr old.

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?


I find the best way to get my cute 3 year old to eat veggies nd fruit is have them all pre cut up and dived out into bags on a reachable area in the fridge. And then those are her “snacks” I think she feels pretty cool being able to grab her own snack and getting what she wants. I mix it up ever week too. In the bags I will put Watermelon one week or mix grapes and carrots together to try and get her to eat different things. Celery and blueberries, strawberries and green peppers or tomatoes etc.. Hopefully this helps.

Henry’s rules had me laughing—ah, the things kids say! I’m not a mom yet, but I enjoy listening to my friends’ stories about their children. Such a fresh look at life. Cheers!

I have had a terrible time getting my 2yr old to eat veggies! For a while I tried the “green smoothies” which he loved at first, and then I think I made them one too many times for him…now he wont touch them.

Just this week I bought some popsicle molds and have been making him homemade popsicle with fruits, veggies, greek vanilla yogurt, and a little agave

He thinks they are fantastic, and hopefully that will last 🙂

Love your idea for the bean jar!

Our toddler has a step-stool that she stands up at the kitchen counter on while I chop up the veges – often times she’ll nibble the veges while standing there (even if she doesn’t touch them during the actual meal)

Love your ideas here, Liz. My parents always made us eat our vegetables first and held us hostage at the table until we finished. It kind of made me hate veggies. When I have kids I’m definitely not doing that!

Have you tried Zucchini chocolate cake or Beet chocolate cake? They are actually really delicious….and full of veggies.

Another way we sneak veggies into our kid’s diet is sauteeing them into risottos. It’s really simple and so tasty. And usually the kids don’t even notice they’re in there.

I think I have had zucchini chocolate cake before. Great idea! I’ll have to look for a good recipe for one. Our issue with sauteeing any veggies into anything is that he will pick them all out. They have to be invisible!

If you cook the veggies in advance and puree it then you can just add the smooth puree directly to the risotto. No chunks of veggies for them to see and you can sell the whole meal as “green risotto!”(zucchini), “orange risotto!” (pumpkin!) or “purple risotto!” (beet). This seriously worked for my little ones and it is so tasty for us as well.

I just tried your trick # 3 on my 4-year-old son. He doesn’t like to shower and he doesn’t fit into the baby bathtub anymore. So I asked him to shower with his 16 month old baby sister and “show her how it is done” without whining. It totally worked! He was so proud, calm and brotherly, but she screamed her head off. Oh well … so thank you for the post. I’m gonna try # 1 too soon …

My husband often brings our little one (17 months old) to look at dinner cooking on the stove or just as it’s come out of the oven, and then let’s him have a small bite right away before we sit down and serve everyone on their plates. Somehow Little A is more open to tasting things this way than when we just put a plate of food in front of him. And once he’s tasted something and realizes it’s ok, he’s quite happy to continue from his plate.

We also just try to add any veggies he really likes and is comfortable with to new foods. Little A loves peas, so we add a handful to almost anything and it just makes it all go down more easily.

Andrew is really picky. Here are two activities we’ve been doing lately- they have made a HUGE difference and he actually chooses to eat the veggies/fruits.


We have also tried this plate activity that I shared at Quirky Momma and he loved it. http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/choosing-a-healthy-plate-a-nutrition-activity-for-preschoolers/

For once it isn’t a daily struggle. Love your rainbow jar! We’ll need to try that as well!

I have 4 picky eaters–but my oldest daughter really takes the cake. And speaking of cake, if that’s all I offered her, she would it it every. single. day.

I like the idea of a reward system too. Great tips! You’re a clever mom!

Thanks for this post! I too have a picky eater named Henry. He is only 2, but I love the bean system. I will definitely file this one away for when he gets a little bigger. Thanks!

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