How to help your child like vegetables
I love vegetables, but number 3 child hates them and has done so since he graduated from baby purées.
I last wrote about my son’s veggie-loathing ways when he was two and a half (read: 10 ways to get your child to eat vegetables). But he’s just turned four, and his shortlist of accepted vegetables is still the same: cucumber and, occasionally, raw carrot. That’s it.
My son will pick a speck of pea or sliver of courgette out of his pasta or food. And he will refuse an entire dish that’s loaded with vegetables, such as shepherd’s pie or pasta bake.
Even potatoes are out. Unless they’re in chip or waffle form.
I’ve tried sticker charts, but – naughty mummy – I let them slide. Life got in the way and I found it difficult to keep up.
It’s not that he doesn’t see vegetables – they’re served up daily as snacks and at mealtimes. But somehow I’ve been accepting his no-veg ways as the status quo.
So now I need to take firmer action. He starts school in September and at this rate, he’ll be turning down entire school dinners for the sake of a few mushrooms. This is no longer a phase. I need to Do Something.
When I heard that Organix were running a campaign to encourage children to love great food, including vegetables (#LoveGoodFood), I signed up. After all, how much easier would life be if all your kids enjoyed the same flavours?
Giving toddlers and preschoolers the chance to explore vegetables is key, according to children’s food expert Lucy Thomas. She suggests letting your little one touch, feel and smell the vegetables – but make sure there’s no pressure to actually eat.
So on Sunday, I told my little one that we were going to have some amazingly brilliant fun with vegetables.
He was thrilled. He said, ‘Yay!’, washed his hands, pulled up a stool and was sweetly attentive.
We brought out courgette, carrot, sweetcorn kernels and green beans, and spent a very happy 10 minutes chopping, grating, sniffing, squelching and feeling. Basically, we played with vegetables – something we’ve never done before.
We grated carrot into tiny slivers, and let them run through our fingers and discussed how it felt. ‘Soft but hard too,’ he told me.
We squeezed the insides out of the sweetcorn kernels, which he found fascinating. ‘Those are the tummies, Mummy,’ he said. (I ate a few, but he didn’t fall for that old copying-mum-eat-a-vegetable trick, of course.)
We grabbed great handfuls of the grated courgette and squeezed until the juice dripped onto the chopping board, and sniffed its fresh scent. Tell me what it smells of, I asked him. ‘Chicken,’ he said.
After watching the green beans whizz to a pulp in the blender, we poured out the mush and poked around with it with our fingers. ‘Nice smell,’ he said.
Finally, we stirred all the vegetables up with flour, cheese and egg to make vegetable muffins, and baked them in the oven.
And you know what? He happily tucked in.
Now I’m not kidding myself. I know that a muffin looks like no vegetable on earth.
But still, I’m hoping that this could be a (baby) step in the right direction…
Disclosure: this post has been sponsored by Organix, but all views are my own
Watch children’s food expert Lucy Thomas showing a group of toddlers how to explore and enjoy fruit and vegetables by clicking on this link to Organix’ new Love Good Food videos: http://youtu.be/pMo-346E0-k
For advice and tips from Lucy and Dr Frankie Phillips, a registered dietitian specialising in feeding babies and toddlers, read the Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families. Download your free copy here: www.organix.com/lovegoodfood
Join the campaign. Follow #LoveGoodFood on Twitter.