Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to get a stubborn four year old to eat his veggies

Since day one my son has refused vegetables. Even before he was old enough to realize that kids try to avoid wanting them. As a baby he would gag / get sick from green beans and once he was old enough to eat the toddler meals (the ones that has pieces of meat and vegetables) he would pull peas and carrots out of his mouth. I am lucky that he likes fruit or we would have some real problems.

We have been putting vegetable on his plate since he began eating table food and have prepared it in just about every manner you can think of. He continues to refuse to eat them. If we tell him to eat his food or go to bed...he will choose bed every time. So here are some of the ways that I get vegetables into his diet:

1.) Apple and Eve Fruitables Juice boxes: They are a mix of fruit and veggie juice (with 1 serving of vegetable per box). Since the juice is in the box he doesn't notice the color as he does with V-8 splash and other similar products so it is easy to get him to drink them. I normally let him have a juice box with snack, so I figure lets by a juice box with the added benefit of vegetables.

2.) Soup: My son loves soup and though he refuses to eat carrots or celery in any other form...he will eat them in soup. He refused the soup to begin with too, but we started with just broth and then added the vegetables. He ate one by mistake and realized he liked them. He tells us that he "only likes soup carrots" He still won't eat carrots or celery other than in soup, but he knows that he is eating them and knows that he likes the taste so in my opinion, it is a good start.

3.) Trader Joes Applesauce and carrot crushers: As far as I can tell, they are the only ones who make them (Babies R Us has a similarly package fruit and veggie mix that they market as baby food) and I think it is a genius idea...I wish they would make other flavors. They are fun because the come in the squeeze pouch, again your child can't see the color because it is masked by the container and it has the familiar flavor of applesauce combined with it so your child will enjoy it. My son tried them at my mom's house for the first time and inhaled it - she was shocked. So now Trader Joes is one our grocery store stops. I haven't tried it yet, but my next step is to make an applesauce at home and add pureed vegetables and see how that goes over. If that works I will gradually increase the volume of vegetable to apples until he is eating mostly veggies, plus it will let me regulate the level of sugar.

4.) Parent's Choice baby food: Similar to the product above (though a little more liquidy) we actually by him baby food. The cup they come in actually looks like an applesauce snack cup too. I like this one because they have a few options; apples with carrots, apples with sweet potato, and pears with squash. This may be controversial in some ways, as I am feeding my four year old baby food. In my opinion if it gets vegetables into his diet I am happy with at. In addition, this option is probably better for him than the option above (designed for pre-schoolers) since in this option it is just apples, vegetable and water. There is nothing added to is as there is in the Trader Joes option (still good for your child, don't get me wrong). I also like the fact that he knows he is eating the veggies. As noted above I am going to begin to make my own fruit sauces with veggies in the next couple of weeks - I may do it this weekend.

5.) Veggie corn dogs: For some strange reason my son likes them and they are much better for him than the regular ones. We bought them for the first time a couple of months ago, completely expecting that he would eat one bite of one corn dog and that would be it. My husband and I were shocked when we saw him eat bite after bite and inhale the whole thing in minutes. We will be trying Veggie hot dogs, veggie sausage and other products in the future.

6.) Hiding veggie purees in common meals / snacks: The book written by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife) - you can find out more about the book on it's website ( but there are basically a bunch of recipes that use vegetable puree's to hide veggies in your children's meals (from mac and cheese with squash puree incorporated to a brownie recipe with spinach puree in it). Don't get me wrong, I am sure that at least some of the recipes will not pass with my little guy - but as I said, I am willing to try anything. I just got this book so I haven't tried anything yet, but we will be trying some of these items soon. In addition to this book there are plenty of websites out there that have recipes for hiding vegetables in your children's food.

To be perfectly honest I wish that my son would just eat his vegetables and that I didn't have to go through all of this just to get a couple of serving of vegetable into his diet. I have come to the realization that this isn't going to happen so I look for any opportunity I can find to sneak a vegetable into his diet...and for us, it is working.


  1. Oh how I completely understand this! My oldest daughter from age 14 months until she was 4 refused to eat anything green. Veggie, fruit, or candy. Yes, she even refused green M&Ms. I seriously wondered if she was my child for awhile!

    One thing I still do, even though she eats everything but shrimp now, is putting carrots and eggplant in meatloaf. I pulverize it in the blender, and add it as part of the liquid. You could probably get some spinach in there too. Anything green, if it's small enough, he won't see the color! And there are so many other flavors going on, it's very hard to taste!

  2. I love the idea of hiding veggies in the meatloaf. It can really mask the flavors.


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