Getting your toddler to eat vegetables is one of the most difficult things a parent can go through. What is it about produce that turns them off so much? There’s actually a scientific reason for that. We are simply more attracted to sweeter foods, such as fruit and sweeter veggies like carrots and yams. According to science, vegetables lean towards the “bitter” flavor of things, which in the past, would warn us of toxins in food. So, while vegetables are good for us, our body — or at least our taste buds — don’t agree. Let’s see if we can trick them, shall we?
1. Start Early
If your little one is just starting to eat solids, work in the veggies early. And stay consistent! Even a babe may dislike the broccoli at first, but have them try some routinely. It may take your child more than ten times of eating it to actually begin to like it (stay strong), but in the end, you may just have a toddler that loves their broccoli.
2. Make it Fun!
We all know that broccoli looks like little, tiny trees. Let their imagination rule this one. I mean, it’s what we often do in daycare! It’s all about making life fun. Make a garden or a fairyland on their plate. Build a house and a yard with their food. Let them make whatever they’d like and then eat! Yum yum.
3. Know How to Cook It
You’d be surprised at how often this is actually the issue. Did you ever eat mushy broccoli as a kid? Ugh, that was awful. If you’re a boiler, try not to go over 6-7 minutes. Steaming is highly recommended as the best way to cook broccoli. You can even get a nifty little steamer for your microwave. Bye-bye boiled veggies. Hello, deliciousness.
4. Try a Different Kind
Not all broccolis are created equal. Didn’t know there were different kinds? We actually didn’t either for most of our adult life. Tenderstem or long-stem broccoli tends not to get all mushy like your everyday broccoli, making it easier on your toddler’s palette. There’s even broccolini, a cousin/hybrid of broccoli created in 1993. It’s not nearly as bitter and still very much nutritious. Tasty stuff.
5. Mix it Up
Why just eat broccoli by itself? Make your toddler a nice little medley. It’s more colorful, and the combined flavors will make the taste of broccoli easier to handle.
6. Serve it Raw
Why not try it? Your toddler might love some raw, crunchy veggies. There are even recipes for ranch made with just plain Greek yogurt and spices, too. You never know, you may have a broccoli lover on your hands.
7. Involve the Kiddos
Kids LOVE responsibility. We at daycare know this as a hard fact. So, why not give them some? When grocery shopping, let them help you pick out the broccoli — with careful guidance on the freshness, of course. At home, let them help meal prep! Give your child the chore of washing the veggies (or giving them a bath) and even talk through how you are cooking it (or let them help if you’re comfortable). If kids are given more responsibility and tasks in the goal at hand, they’ll be more likely to want to eat what they helped make! Score.
8. Hide It
Seriously. Just toss it in with other foods. There are a gazillion (yes, that’s a word) recipes out there for foods and dishes that include broccoli. Check out these recipe lists here, here, and here.
9. Bribe ‘Em
I mean, all parents do it. No matter what they tell you. I’m not saying it’s the best strategy in the world, and we will never admit to using it in daycare; however, sometimes you’ve just got to offer them something they want so they’ll do something you want. Paw Patrol for a few bites of broccoli without throwing food on the floor? We say fair trade.
10. When All Else Fails…
Smother it in cheese. Your mom did it. Our moms did it. Everything is better with cheese.
All joking aside, we are completely on board for teaching toddlers how to make healthy life choices. It’s part of what we do here at The Breakie Bunch. Have any tasty ways of getting the kiddos to eat their broccoli? We’d love to hear about it. Interested in getting to know our awesome daycare better? Contact us here.