How can I get my 4-year-old to eat vegetables?

I cannot get my 4 year old son to eat any vegetables at all! It’s so frustrating. We have tried everything,

By Dr. Ayala Wegman

Advice

Parenting

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Getting a child to eat vegetables?

about the doc

Ayala Wegman is a clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.  She has two young boys and deeply enjoys caring for her community at NYU-Langone Global Pediatrics on the Upper East Side of Manhattan where she resides. We are proud to introduce Ayala as our All About The Mom resident pediatrician. You will find her advice in our Ask a Doc section.

I cannot get my 4 year old son to eat any vegetables at all! It’s so frustrating. We have tried everything, and he won’t even try them. We have even tried to “reward” him if he tries a bite, but he simply won’t do it! What can I do to make sure he gets enough vitamins from food and also develops healthy food habits?

 

The tug-of-war over food between parent and child can be utterly exhausting for both parties. Usually, the battles are lost on the field, leaving both sides feeling defeated. This can lead to further aversions and also resentment. Mealtime should be a stress-free environment. Limit grazing on snacks throughout the day to increase your child’s appetite for mealtime. Incorporate vegetables into soups, omelets, smoothies, and whole-grain pasta dishes.

I often talk to children about the importance of “eating the rainbow” when they present for their well visits. Try asking your child to incorporate one new, colorful fruit or vegetable onto their plate each day. This allows the goal to be visualized and enables them to try new foods. Children love the idea of finger foods and dipping. Experiment with cookie cutters to form different shapes for your veggies and incorporate healthy dipping sauces such as hummus and tzatziki for interesting flavors. Praise and encourage your child for trying. Children are more likely to consume balanced nutrition if they sit down for a family dinner, and if healthy eating practices are modeled by parents. If your child is severely limited, you can always incorporate a multivitamin into the routine, however, most children who are healthy and growing well do not need one.

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