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How do I get my 4 year old to eat vegetables?

I saw those cute books about putting cauliflower in eggs and spinach in brownies but get real, who has time for that? I'm a working mom and I need to put food together. I make myself a salad or vegetables with whatever I eat but my 4 year old says, nooooo mommy, I don't want that. Any tricks?

Tue. Nov 20, 10:47am

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soups and stews with lots of veggies - mashed veggies hidden in normal foods - cut up carrots with a good tasting dip - my kids love raw veggies dipped in sour cream and chives - good luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 11:23 AM

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For me, it's just something that I insisted on. My children were required to take some of the vegetables I was serving each meal and they were required to eat them first, before eating the other things. Many meals were skipped all together due to rebellion - but over time, they realized that if they didn't want to go to bed with a rumbling tummy, they'd better choked it down somehow. Thankfully, they are much less resistant even though, admitedly, they don't "love" vegetables even to this day. But, hey, neither did I at their ages. Now as an adult, I DO love vegetables and eat them for all the right reasons. Best you can hope for it that it will happen for your daughter too. Be consistant and don't back down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 4:18 PM

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Serve vegetables to her. If she doesn't eat them, she'll be hungry. At the next meal, she'll eat them. You can even save them as a snack for if she's hungry after the meal b/c she didn't eat much.

Kids are highly trainable. Sure, they may be hungry for a couple days and throw a couple of fits, but as soon as they realize that they're not going to win, they will settle down and eat what they're served.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 4:25 PM

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I read recently that the puree technique is really more detrimental than helpful. It teaches kids that its ok to eat brownies and cookies instead of vegetables. They aren't raised to eat their veggies, since they are already baked into the junk food. Apparently, a big reason kids become adults that like veggies is becuase they were raised to eat them. A child that is never made to eat their veggies and is allowed to have brownies instead will turn into an adult that would prefer a brownie to spinach.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 4:35 PM

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if you have a really difficult eater, try mixing veg with fruit to give it a sweet taste which makes them more likly to eat it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 4:53 PM

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I made the comment before about fruit and veg however I highly agree with the advice of 4.25pm, the problem with mixing the fruit and veg is changing the child's habit as they get older; especially as they start school.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 4:55 PM

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i think insisting that your kids eat something is traumatic to them and they will later rebel on their own. my mom MADE me eat these.. now that I can make my own decision I will eat something else instead. i know this from my own childhood. my kids eat and love their veggies, I just have them around all the time and I teach them how good they are for them and how much greater it is for their body to eat fresh foods gorwon from the earth and I let them choose themselves - even when they were young they ate them - rather raw than cooked but also cooked.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 5:08 PM

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When my son was growing up I jalways had fresh fruits and veggies ready and on hand for him to just grap and go. celery or applies I would put natural peanut butter in a small container so he could dip that with it I never had cookies or sweets in the house and the only time he ate them was if we were at the mall shopping and it was a treat. I would make sauces not pureed but chopped up veggies so he ate them with the sauces. I would put veggies in scrambled eggs. if we actually had a meal with veggies as a side he ate what everyone else ate and if it was something he told me he didn't like i would place a small spoonful on his plate and he would have to eat at least the small spoonful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 5:39 PM

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4:35p - I think the ideal scenario with the hidden foods is that you serve them in foods you're already giving the kids - not giving the kid a brownie in lieu of a vegetable. The most recent hidden food cookbook out there advises continuing to serve your kids vegetables to send the message eating good foods is important and that you're not going to stop serving them b/c they don't like them. The technique itself isn't a bad idea, it's all about execution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 10:26 PM

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At 4 my daughter was doing the same thing. I stopped giving her treats. One day she came and asked me why she couldn't have a treat and I said that she has to eat her veggies and fruit everyday if she wants a treat. So we made a deal, she has to eat 2 veggies and fruits everyday or the next day there is no treat. So far it is working. I limit her treat to once a day after dinner that way if she didn't eat she doesn't get treats for that day or the next.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 6:22 AM

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I agree with that. rewarding them for eating them instead of punishing them or insisting they eat them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 6:55 AM

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Kids like flavor, so stick to the vegetables that have a ton of flavor, of course salads, broccoli, spinach, etc are going to be a big eww to kids. Try minestrone soup, or all natural pasta sauce ( not meat flavored or big named brands).

Sunday, November 25, 2007, 1:23 AM

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I also agree with a few of the posters above. I think the point of sneaking the pureed veggies is to do it in the foods you're already having. Also, like the other poster mentioned, continue to put veggies on the plate so they still see them and hopfully eventually eat them. As another mentioned, it has also helped for me to lead by example by eating them a lot myself. Kids are so curious and always seem to want what my husband or I are having. Granted, our kids just turned 3 & 4, but we try to eat cut veggies and lots of fruit a lot and they seem to want them when we're eating them. Thankfully they both love and prefer fruits. The younger one will eat anything pretty much so veggies aren't a big problem with him but the 4 year old is where we've always struggled. He's always been that way though. I think it really helps to snack on or serve raw veggies with dips (ranch, ketchup, etc). When I lightly steamed broccoli and put light ranch dressing on their plate with it, they ate 3 servings. No doubt it was the dressing but at least they were eating them right? Good luck. Glad to know most of us have the same struggles.

Sunday, November 25, 2007, 11:45 AM

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Jessica Seinfeld (I think that's her name...) has been promoting her book about sneaking food into regular foods that her kids eat every day. Pureeing is what it is all about. I am eager to get her book and try some of her recipies... Spinach Brownies? Ya never know...

Sunday, November 25, 2007, 7:27 PM

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Terribly wrong message being sent

link goes to article.


Monday, November 26, 2007, 9:08 AM

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9:08 - The author of that article seems to have an issue with the concept, but I don't they actually read the Seinfeld book. It's not an entire cookbook of how to hide vegetables in sweets and it doesn't advocate replacing actual vegetables with all hidden vegetables. It would probably be helpful if feedback about the cookbooks came from someone has read them!

Monday, November 26, 2007, 10:11 AM

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I know that my mom used to get rid of the "junk" in the house, or at least most of for my "sweet" I used to like peanut butter with apples (omg i could eat LOADS of them), or light, natural popcorn (that she hid the box and would pop for us, before revaling it was natural lol)

OK, so do I eat only veggies all the time? No. I wouldn't be 5'8 and 150lbs if I did lol. I'd be 120 like my sister. BUT, I do still enjoy PB and apples, LOVE to load up my plate with broccoli (with a little salt and i can't believe it's not butter 0 cal spray..yummm), and have come to personal enjoyment with certain fruits/veggies.

I think you have to find soemthing they really like and cater to it. Like REALLY make it available. And try different things. One day, make yourself some PB and apples and be like..mmmmmmm...and let them try some and let them have 1-2 TBS pb with ALL the apples they want (lol). or, since my thing was brocolli, my parents used to make it, literally, every night. i loved it!

maybe they just don't like certain veggies certain ways? here's a list of ideas that i know i like, and i'm not partial to veggies all the time

-pb and apples (did i mention this? lol)
-strawberries mixed with blueberries and land o lakes fat free, light whip cream
-brocolli with a good spraying of i can't believe it's not butter 0 cal spray
-"crunchy" veggies, like carrots or snow peas with ranch dressing (costco has this "platter" thing with all diff veggies and 2 dips, and my mom keeps it in the's awesome to nibble on)
-cucumbers with a little oil and vinegar as a "sauce" to dip in

anything crunchy/munchy and savory works :] goodluck!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007, 6:51 PM

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Its called be a parent... enforce rules. I am so tired of parents who are so scared to grow some balls and be a parent!

Monday, November 26, 2007, 6:56 PM

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My kids all eat vegetables. It was expected (which is different than forced, and not traumatic). I think the biggest block to kids eating vegetables is parents expecting they will hate them ("Of course salads, broccoli, etc are going to be eww to kids" is a perfect example, thanks!). Mine have all always loved broccoli ("I ate a whole tree!") and my 15-year-old son has been a huge fan of salad since before he went to school. I myself dislike cooked spinach, so that one they've escaped, but my now-11-year-old used to ask for it after eating it at a friend's house when he was about five.

They don't like squash but they eat a few bites of it when I fix it. It helps that their dad never complains or balks at anything I make. He sets a good example for them, we have the overt expectation that they will taste everything and the private expectation that they will probably like it.

Monday, November 26, 2007, 7:16 PM

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Have you tried letting your child pick out some pretty, colorful vegetables in the produce section of the grocery store? Maybe if you let him/her do the choosing and maybe even let them help prepare the veggie, they might be more interested. If I'm trying a new healthy recipe I always try to get my 9 and/or 12 yr olds to help make it. Then they take ownership of it and always at least try it. Just keep trying. Mine didn't like anything when they were little and now we all fight over broccoli and cauliflower! Edamame is their new favorite and popping them out of the pods is a blast for them!

Monday, November 26, 2007, 8:19 PM

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