How can I get my 5 year old son to eat vegetables?

Yohnnilee - posted on 07/31/2009 ( 34 moms have responded )

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He refuses any vegetable, but he will eat Chef Boyardee which contains a complete serving of veggies and he eats ketchup with a lot of stuff and he'll eat Spaghetti occasionally, but he won't eat vegetables if he sees the vegetable. ??? I even buy expensive vitamins that contain a complete serving of veggies, but it'd be cheaper if he'd just eat what I serve. I've tried raw veggies with ranch, I've tried cooked veggies of all kinds, he simply refuses. Any ideas???

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Try making 'fries' using different veggies, cut them really thin, dip in an eggwash, dredge thru flour or bread crumbs and bake in the oven & they look like seasoned french fries. You can use zuchinni, eggplant and even squash and they might love it. Mine does.
I've always had a rule that he has to taste anything I put on his plate and if he doesn't like it after 3 different tastings, he never has to try it again. He has discovered that he loves veggies except for raw carrots, brusel sprouts & celery. He loves to try new foods.
Another tip is to offer reward tickets for every new food he tries and when he gets a set amt of reward tix he can redeem them for a special prize. Maybe 15 min extra of tv or an extra 15 min of playing at the park.
Another thing is to let him help you to cook the veggies, let him pour the cheese on top of the broccoli or plce the cucumbers in the salad etc....make a game out of it. I spy or something fun.
Good luck!!!

Ronda - posted on 08/02/2009

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To be truthful, I have found that putting what I make in front of my kids and telling them that "if they don't eat everything they don't get anything else until it is all gone" works. I also have to admit that my kids are pretty good about eating their veggies. Although when my son was from the age of 2-4 he gave me a hard time about them and there are still a few things that he don't like, but I make him at least try everything once, then wait for a few months before I make it again, and have him try it again.

Kristy-Leigh - posted on 08/08/2009

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a little (very small amount) food colouring in mash potatoe will get most kids eating it, especially if it is TMNT green, Spiderman red and so on. I also steam cabbage, carrot, brocolli, and cauliflower then put them in the oven with some cheese on top to melt. Get your son to add his favourite cheese, maybe even grate it himself. Or growing there own vegies always helps. You only need some pots if you don't have a lot of space.

Good luck!! :-)

Debby - posted on 08/07/2009

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try different veggies, add shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce, put some cheese on veggies, etc......but, if nothing works, go with fruit

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Peter - posted on 10/20/2014

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From my experience, not wanting to eat certain foods is more related to the texture than taste. How about grinding them down beyond recognition and then mixing with something... say, ground down green beans in spaghetti sauce. It's just as nutritious.

Ayesha - posted on 10/20/2014

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This also works some times.
I add shredded veggies to pasta sauce. This way I get the veggies in and they're still eating what they love - which is pasta!

Ayesha - posted on 10/20/2014

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I've tried this technique which works most of the time.
Everytime they want pizza or plain pasta, I tell them they can have it as long as they have it with a side of veggies. It usually works.
Also, sometimes, I'll saute the veggies and then they get to put sprinkle some cheese on it. That also helps.

Darlajean - posted on 08/09/2009

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Althea - posted on 08/08/2009

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I wish I could have gotten my son to eat veggies when he was little too. He is now 13 and has been doing pretty good. Don't think he will fall for the x-ray carrots etc...anymore. ha ha

Yohnnilee - posted on 08/08/2009

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My son does like cheese which may be a very good idea to just put cheese on everything and see if he'll eat it! Thanks Lindsay! I have tried the veggies with ranch dressing, but he sees the vegetables and won't even try it. I'm not sure he even knows what they taste like! *lol*
I have indeed tried bell peppers and that's also a 'no' but the mashed cauliflour is a good idea! That may work, especially since they're kinda sweet! Thanks Chelsea!
Ronda, I have done that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. More not unfortunately. He's an obstinate little gemini boy. *lol* I do try to get him to at least take a bite of each thing, but it's a battle if he really doesn't want to.
No, I've never heard of those books, but I'm definately making a note of it now! That sounds like a fantastic idea that just might work! I've tried putting those pale colored carrots pureed in his macaroni and cheese and because you boil them first it doesn't taste any different and that has been a great help! I'm going to keep an eye out for those books! Thanks Renee!!
That's a good idea too Amy. I will do that next time we have veggies with dinner and see if he takes to that! Thanks!
O.o I hadn't thought of adding it to spaghetti sauce! That's a fantastic idea because he really won't be able to tell the difference since the sauce is so strong! And of course I always give him a small portion of actual veggies with the hopes he'll try them. But next time we have spaghetti... Thanks Sonyah!
Putting it in meatloaf is a great idea too and I bet it adds a lot of good flavors too! Thanks Rhonda!!!
I will definately keep that in mind Tracey! Thanks! I know butter probably would be pretty counterproductive, but cheese is a good source of protein so I can't complain too much. I'm just glad he eats what he does at all. The chicken nuggets have been a life saver even though they're not the best for you at least they're more healthy than what my son would rather eat.
Rosanne! Be sure and read some of the other comments posted here, the ones about pureed veggies are FANTASTIC!
Thanks Melissa! I've for sure tried the bribery, but I'm afraid the prize would have to be a lot more grand to get my stubborn five year old to eat 'em, but games are a good idea. We will definately try that! :D
I have tried glazing and because he sees that it's a vegetable or something unidentified he won't try it. :(
That's a great idea Althea! I will surely try giving them fun names! Thanks!!!
Joyce that's a cute idea! He doesn't really have any characters that he likes just yet, but I'll keep that in mind for sure!
Good advice Elisa! He still hasn't reached the stage that he wants what we want, but I'm hoping he'll get there soon so we can try that. That's a good idea too about giving him only water until the next meal. Thanks!
Thanks Nikki! Puree is a great idea that I am for certain going to be doing a lot of in the near future!!!
Great idea Carolyn! We'll try that one right now for a snack! Cute!
I think the puree is sounding like the best idea too Melissa, but grated veggies in stuff might work too! Thanks!
That's a great idea Jeanne! I hadn't thought of making baked fries out of other veggies! That even sounds tasty to me! And letting him help me 'cook' by stirring in the cheese for Mac & Chz is how I got him to eat it, so that's a good idea too! Thanks!!!
Thanks for the recipe Kim, sounds like a good idea for dinner tonight!!! Mmm...
I'm definately for the puree Angela! I hadn't thought of adding it to desserts though! Good idea! Thanks!
That's what I've been doing so thanks for the encouragement Jennifer. I'm sure as he gets older he'll be more apt to eat his veggies. Thanks!
He does enjoy fruit thankfully! Thanks Debby!
Juicing is also a great idea because then I could put veggies in fruit juice! Thanks Nicole!
That's a great idea I hadn't thought of with the food coloring! Like 'green eggs & ham'!!! Thanks Kristy-Leigh!!
That's how I was and that's how I hope he learns to be. Thanks for the encouragement Roberta!

Thank you to everyone for all these amazing ideas that you can bet I will be trying with my son! I've gotten so much insight with this post I'm so grateful you all chose to respond!!! I really like the ideas many of you came up with and puree seems to be a popular idea and because generally if he can see the vegetable he won't eat it I think it's going to become pretty popular for dinner too! So many great ideas and wonderful encouragement from all of you! Thanks SO SO SO much, you have all been a tremendous help!!!

Roberta - posted on 08/08/2009

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I was one of the lucky ones. My mom always grew a vegetable garden so I grew up loving to sit in the garden and knaw on fresh grown peas, green beans, radishes, tomatoes, strawberries, etc. When I had kids I always kept cut up veggies and fruits in the fridge so they could munch on whatever they wanted throughout the day. They grew to want veggies over candy. A bowl of M & M's would get old before it would be empty! Having no potato chips (or other quick snack foods), candies, etc. available worked for me. My grandkids are growing up the same way. They prefer veggies and fruits to cookies or candy. Don't get me wrong. They have their sugar moments where candy is all they want, but it is few and far between as long as fruits and veggies are readily available.

Jennifer - posted on 08/07/2009

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Put the veggies (just a few) on his plate at every meal and at every meal ask him to try it. If he says he doesn't like it or spits it out just thank him for trying and do the sam thing the next night and so on...be patient and he will eat veggies eventually.

Angela - posted on 08/07/2009

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You'd be suprised at how little they actually need of vegetables. The doctor told me that if I could get one teaspoon of veggies in at a meal it's good enough! A fun and tasty way to get the kids to eat a veggie is to puree it and add it to french toast, pancake, biscuits, cake, BROWNIES, andy mixes...remember not to add too much that it takes away from the actual taste of the mix.

Kim - posted on 08/07/2009

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I found a recipe called Fiesta Mac. It has veggies in it and my kids love it!

1 pkg. (14oz each) Kraft Deluxe Mac 'n' Cheese Dinner

1 lbs. lean gound beef

1 large bell pepper, chopped ( I used a mix of green and red bell peppers for color)

1 1/4 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 cups Pace or Taco Bell Home Originals thick 'n' chunky salsa



Prepare Kraft dinner in a large saucepan as directed on package, cooking macaroni for about 8 minutes.



Meanwhile, brown meat with bell peppers in skillet, then drain. Add meat mixture, corn and salsa to prepared Kraft dinner; mix well. Cook until heated through, stirring occationally.

Hope this helps!

Melissa - posted on 08/06/2009

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My sister-in-law grates carrots and zucchini into pasta sauce which works great as long as your kids eat pasta sauce (mine do not). I'm with Renee--puree them, grate them, whatever it takes to hide them and put them in things he will eat. My son will eat (or at least try) anything Daddy eats so he is pretty easy. My daughter will willingly eat a few vegetables, most of the time I give her a smaller portion of whatever is served and tell her she has to eat it or she will sit there until she does. We can usually convince her to put a little bit of what she doesn't like on the fork with something she does like (i.e. green beans with mashed potatoes) and this seems to help. Good luck!!

Carolyn - posted on 08/06/2009

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There are great books and recipes online that show how to make veggies look like animals and such, e.g. ants on a log= celery, peanut butter with raisins on top. They enjoy making them AND eating them.

Nikki - posted on 08/06/2009

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I used to puree/mash the vegetables (anything that i had in the fridge at the time) and just add it to dishes like spaghetti bolognaise and stir it thru....i also made mini meatballs by mixing in the mashed vegies. My little one couldnt see them and ate without a fuss, good luck!!

Elisa - posted on 08/06/2009

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My daughter has yet to be born, but I'll share my thoughts from when I was growning up and years of babysitting.

Growing up we had a couple of rules: 1) You have two choices: Eat it or leave it.. but if you leave it you only get water till the next meal. 2) You can only choose ONE thing per meal to pick out... for example, I did (do) not like sweet potatoes, so if they were in a soup I could pick them out of the soup, but I still had to eat the soup. 3) You have to try everything at LEAST once. If mom made them different ways - ie fried one day, boiled the next - you still had to try each variation at least once before you could "dislike" it.

Honesty, the thing that made us, or any of the kids I've sat for, want a type of food the most is if they see YOU eating it and enjoying it. My little niece LOVED veggies because she saw us eating them all the time - we were on Weight Watchers at the time. And for her a couple of squirts of spray butter made everything delicious! Try broccoli with spray butter (I can't believe it's not butter) and a TBSP of parmesian cheese, and let him eat with his hands if he's still into that.

Joyce - posted on 08/05/2009

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I have 3 boy's the older one had no problems with but the younger 2 i did when they where that age they love batman&superman so i sat down & wrote each of them a letter asking them if they could help me i pretended 2 be batman&superman i said i grew my own garden & all vegetables their mom gave them had secret crystals in them 2 make them big & strong then i put it in an envelope wrote theirs names on it & address it from batman & superman 2 the child who like the character from then own they ate all their veggies.cooked or uncooked with butter or ranch dressing or ketchup i didn't care as long as they ate them.

Althea - posted on 08/05/2009

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I just watched a program on T.V. where they named the vegetables a different name and the kids all picked the vegies that had the fun name. They tried both carrots: on they called carrots and the other x-ray carrots. The kids all said the x-ray carrots were better.

Christine - posted on 08/04/2009

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easiest way...glaze your vegetables, with fun marinades and/or a little sugar or sugar substitute...they typically like the sweetness and most substitues aren't fattening or harmful, they even have some organic substitutes. Just check the labels. Also, we do things like taking turnings having their favorite if they try something new. Best of Luck:)

Melissa - posted on 08/04/2009

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I've resorted to bribery with my 2 and 4 year old. I tell them if they eat what I want them to, they can have dessert. Usually 10 bites of meat (we 've increased this recently) and 5 bites of vegetables. They make it a fun counting/racing game to see can do it. Then the prize at the end is some sort of dessert, yogurt w/ granola, hoodsies, watermelon (I let them choose their own dessert). Something still somewhat healthy. Works for us. Good luck!

Rosanne - posted on 08/04/2009

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Well Chef Boyardee and Ketchup both are loaded with salt. They are not something you want to serve on a regular basis. If you can figure out an easy and quiet way to get your child to eat veggies willingly ... please tell me. I have an 11 year old that finds every excuse not to and when I make him there's tons of whining!

Tracy - posted on 08/03/2009

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I am a little of all of the above combined...it will always be a constant to most moms. Kids would rather have the junk they see on tv. I sneak ground up carrots, brocolli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions in my meatloaf. You can hide just about any veggie you want if it is pureed. Sometimes the kids will pick out chunks if they see them in their food. My pediatrician told me this....one bite for mom,dad, yourself, and then Jesus. The veggies loaded up with butter and lots of cheese is a little counterproductive......might as well skip the veggies and order them a pizza for dinner. Keep trying new things and you might find something they eventually like...even unexpected stuff. My oldest likes this one certain kind of lima bean...the kind that is already seasoned and I have about fifteen cans of it in my pantry. The more different varieties they try, the better chance of them finding a winner. My daughter eats spagetti in the funkiest way.....sauce on the noodles and meat on the side. Odd, but I got so tired of cooking two meals.....I just kept trying different things and did not give her another meal option. So, she tailors it to fit her. She loves mexican rice with the peas and carrots in it....not seperately. Loves brocolli...as long as it is raw....we do it without the ranch.

Rhonda - posted on 08/02/2009

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I agree with the pureeing and smoothies...a trick I learned for myself (a 60 year old great grandmother), because I am not a veggie eater either, is to put them through the food processor (grated fine)...I was making this for my dog to start with so I used carrots, spinach, garlic, and broccoli..I am sure you could use any veggies with the same result...anyway one day I just decided to put a cup of the mix in my meatloaf..it was great..since then I have mixed some with hamb. and grilled them...I do not know why you couldn't mix it with most anything..such as spaghetti sauce..by the way, the mashed cauliflower is great...

Sonyah - posted on 08/02/2009

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I totally agree with Renee Hall. If your child simply wont eat veggies, I find the 'Fight' not worth it. It is more inportant to get the veggies into them at this point so puree is the way too go. You can even add the puree to you spaghetti sauce. Most of the time if you try out the right kinds of veggie purees, you wont even be able to taste them in the food. I do recommened still adding the actual veggies to the childs plate so they become accustom to seeing them, smelling them, and generally just knowing that veggies are part of their mealtimes. So pop a bit of veggie on the plate but hide the rest in foods.

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I've tried this: cook a veggie and cut it into pieces. Put the same number of pieces on his plate equal to the number of years he is old (five years old = five pieces of veggies). Make a game of having him eat the exact number of bites that he is old...it worked for me with green beans! Make sure to have other things on his plate that he really likes when you introduce a new veggie so that the plate doesn't look "menacing" and like you're trying to pick a fight. LOL!

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Have you tried the "sneak chef" cook book or "deceptively delicious" cook book? they both use vegetable purees in food without children knowing. Also, make smoothies and put kale or spinach in those. I also would make pancakes and put spinach in it and oatmeal cookies with less the sugar and added spinach. The children loved them! I also for my 4yr old I always put a tiny small portion of salad for him to eat. If he chooses not to eat it I'll put it in the fridge and when later in the day or night and we decide to have a snack... I remind him he needs to eat salad and if he disagrees than no snack. It has helped.

Chelsea - posted on 08/01/2009

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Have you tried bell peppers? You could make fajitas and put those in there. Your son might not even know they are in there. You can also try to mash caluflower so it looks like mashed potatoes. You could put some butter on it so it tastes good. Tacos are good too cause you can add lettuce, tomatoes, and maybe even bell peppers/

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I Have a 4yr old daughter and a 2yr old son and I used to have the same problem *with both of them, but i just kept giving and trying different stuff different ways and found some stuff that worked.... maybe try Velveta or some kinda cheese melted on the top?! I know its good for broccoli i dont know what else but my kids will eat anything with chesse on it and my mom got my daughter liking cauliflower with this powdered cheese (comes in a narrow can like a parmesan cheese container...but its yellow cheese *like mac n'cheese box kind) and its made for like popcorn or something anyways she steams it and puts butter on it and sprinkles that cheese powder all on the top and my kids eat it up...or even a baked potato/or mashed baked my kids like with sour cream another one of their obsessions but my son likes cheese on his potato so u can try either its a veggie, also try something fun to eat like artichokes my daughter asks me to buy corn on the cob and artichokes everytime i go grocery shoping *I think its cuz she likes to eat with her hands?!* she LOVES butter so anything dripping with butter she'll eat *unhealthy im sure but she eats all her veggies! just keep trying different kinds my kids suprised me when they ate spinich leafs and cut up tomatoes in a bowl just cuz i drenched them with italian dressing *they love the tang of the italian dressing *as well as the pickles and juice in that jar too...weird stuff and I was really suprised with them cuz they hate both spinich and tomatoes but they ate that bowl so fast i couldnt believe it...so just try random stuff he'll find something he likes and when he does he'll ask u to make it over and over agian...like a typical 3to6yr old lol good luck lemme know what worked for you!

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