1. Make it fun. A pile of cooked spinach won’t excite a preschooler - but a forest of broccoli “trees” might. Serve older kids stir-fry vegetables, then teach them how to use chopsticks.
2. Keep the crunch. Kids hate mushy food, so avoid overcooking. Instead of boiling veggies, steam lightly, microwave, or serve them raw - you’ll preserve more vitamins this way, too.
3. Take them shopping. Cruise the produce aisle with your child, and look at the different fruits and veggies. On each trip, let her pick out something new for the family to try that week. “Children love to see their choices become part of the meal,” says Keecha Harris, Dr.P.H., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
4. Set a good example. Be sure to fill your own plate with produce, too. Research shows that the amount of vegetables on kids’ plates is directly related to the amount on Mom’s. “Even if you don’t like beets, for example, you should still serve them to your kids - without making any negative comments about them,” adds Jeannie Moloo, Ph.D., and R.D., a spokesperson for the ADA.
5. Be patient and don’t nag. It can take 10 exposures to a new food before kids will try it (and hopefully like it). If your child turns her nose up at a veggie, don’t make a big deal about it - but do introduce it again in a week or two. “My eight-year-old son just started eating sliced tomato in his sandwich,” says Dr. Moloo. “He finally came around.”