Girl in front of plate of veggies
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A Half-Plate of Veggies and Fruit

Getting kids to eat more veggies doesn't have to be a fight. You can try lots of creative ways to introduce and serve them.

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Girl preparing food for meal
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Get Kids in the Kitchen

Take them to a farmers market or grocery store and have them pick out a veggie. Let them wash, peel, and slice it and help choose how to cook and flavor it. Kids will be more likely to eat what they helped to make.

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Two girls adding veggies to pizza
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Offer Veggies With Fave Foods

If your child already likes plain pizza, see if she'll try adding a single veggie topping. Some kids don't like to mix foods -- especially messing with one they think is already perfect. But some will be willing to experiment. Set up bowls of veggies for pizza night, taco night, or salad night and let the family go wild. Kids may be tempted by all the choices and the hands-on fun.

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Vegetable critter menagerie
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Make Veggies Fun

For a young child, making faces with cut-up veggies may help get them from his plate to his mouth. Calling broccoli "trees" or cauliflower "brains" can make them much less intimidating. Making food mini-sized also can make it more kid-friendly.

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Girl crying at table over bowl of veggies
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Don't Battle Over Veggies

When you're frustrated that your child won't try a veggie, it can be tempting to get mad or force her to clean her plate. But resist the urge. Forcing a child to eat something can cause them to avoid it later, even as an adult. If she pushes her plate away, don’t react one way or another. But don’t give up on serving veggies for good, either.

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Woman holding plate of veggies close up
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Offer One New Vegetable Plus a Familiar One

Don't overwhelm your child by serving an entire plate of foods he doesn't recognize or like. Ask him to try one new vegetable at a time. Make sure you serve other familiar foods he already likes, hopefully including at least one veggie. That way you can encourage him to try the new food, but you'll both know he'll have something to eat if he isn't a fan.

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Mom feeding carrot to daughter
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Don't Give Up

If you've offered broccoli or spinach to your child several times and she's made a yucky face, don't give up. Kids' tastes change as they grow. They might have to try a new food a dozen times before they like it.

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Three kids making veggie treats on table
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Take Advantage of Peer Pressure

Does your child have a friend who is an adventurous eater? Invite him over for dinner and serve up some new veggies. Peer pressure may work in a good way, and your child may be more likely to try a new dish if his buddy is bold enough to try it first.

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Roasted veggies
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Roast Veggies

Sometimes kids don't like vegetables because they're too mushy or taste too strong. Try roasting them to get a flavor and texture kids will like. They’ll be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside -- like french fries. It also brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables so they don't taste as intense as they might when they're raw. Try drizzling them with olive oil and sprinkling with some parmesan cheese before you pop them in the oven.

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Veggies and veggie dip
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Serve Veggies and Dip

A healthy dip like hummus may make raw vegetables more appealing to kids. (Don't serve sour cream or mayo-based dips.) Offer an array of baby carrots, snap peas, and other veggies with a bowl of tasty dip. Besides hummus, find a healthy recipe for ranch dressing that uses plain, low-fat yogurt instead of mayo. Kids like the act of dipping and they like eating foods with their fingers.

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Kids watching tv with veggie snacks nearby
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Have Veggies Everywhere

If veggies are within reach, your child will be more likely to eat them when she’s hungry. Cut up carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers and make sure they're sitting out when you're making dinner. If she asks for a pre-dinner snack, make that her only choice. Always have clean, cut-up veggies sitting up-front in the fridge where they're easy to see when your child is searching for food.

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Daughter feeding veggies to dad
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Set a Good Example

It's hard to convince a child to eat Brussels sprouts if you won't go near them. So eat veggies yourself and make sure your child is watching. If you're not a big vegetable fan, then have grandma or the sitter take on the role of veggie booster. Sometimes kids will listen to other people more than they'll listen to mom and dad.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/10/2016 Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on May 10, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

Julie Negrin, MS, certified nutritionist; author, Easy Meals to Cook with Kids.

Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, MHS, RD, LD, clinical pediatric dietitian, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis and St. Louis Children's Hospital; spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association.

Missy Chase Lapine, author, The Sneaky Chef cookbook series.

ChooseMyPlate.gov: "Trying New Foods."

Ask Dr. Sears: "7 Reasons Why Veggies Are So Good For You."

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on May 10, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.