More Broccoli. Please!

September 27, 2021

Christine Patrick

Parents and children seem to have more struggles over vegetables than any other kind of food. Vegetables should be offered in the same matter-of-fact way that all other foods are offered
Start vegetables in infancy. Talk to your doctor or WIC program about how and when to begin solid foods. Some nutritionists recommend introducing vegetables before fruits, so the baby gets used to the taste of vegetables first. If your baby doesn’t seem thrilled with a new vegetable, don’t assume he/she doesn’t like it. Try it again next week. If it still doesn’t win smiles, try it again in another week, and so on.
What if you have a toddler or preschooler who has decided already that he/she/doesn’t like vegetables? Here are 18 pointers that might help:

  • Don’t force your child to eat anything he doesn’t want to eat. Forcing only results in power struggles that nobody wins, except a determined vegetable hater!
  • Offer positive encouragement but do not bribe, reward, or lavish praise.
  • Teach your child how to politely turn down food.
  • Don’t take food refusals personally.
  • Avoid “labels.” Resist making statements such as “He doesn’t like cabbage,” or “She won’t eat anything green.”
  • Serve small portions. Your child can ask for second helpings. This way your child will not feel overwhelmed, and you will not waste a lot of food.
  • Time meals and snacks so your child has an appetite when he comes to the table. Do not allow nibbling all day. Toddlers and preschoolers need a regular meal and snack times spaced 2 or 3 hours apart.
  • Set a good example. Eat vegetables yourself.
  • Serve vegetables often. Try different ways of preparing them.
  • Pay attention to the texture and color of cooked vegetables. Many children like them cooked “crisp-tender” not mushy. Overcooked vegetables lose their bright, attractive color.
  • Whenever possible, serve vegetables as “finger foods.” Even cooked vegetables can be eaten this way.
  • If salad doesn’t appeal to your child, serve the salad ingredients as a vegetable/fruit tray. Experiment with dips.
  • Cut food into small pieces a child can manage successfully.
  • Make sure cooked vegetables are not served too hot.
  • A vegetable might seem more fun if it is served at snack time.
  • Let your child help choose and prepare vegetables.
  • Find out what your child eats at child care, the neighbor’s, or grandma’s house. A vegetable you have never considered might be one of your child’s favorites.
  • Respect your child’s individuality. Some children are more cautious about trying new foods. Everyone should be allowed some food dislikes.

For even more broccoli tips, check out the Clemson University Home & Garden Information Center’s broccoli factsheet.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status, and is an equal opportunity employer.


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