By Daddy Nickell
Many parents struggle with the never-ending task of wanting their kids to grow up strong and healthy, so we often encourage our children to eat their vegetables. As a daddy to six healthy children – two toddlers and four in their twenties – with one more on the way, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that are sure to get your kids eating their veggies!
Lead by Example: One of the easiest things you can do when expanding your child’s palate to include vegetables is to lead by example. Eat vegetables often yourself, so your child can see it’s perfectly normal and that they are yummy too. Incorporating healthy servings of veggies into every meal is important, but including them at snack time is also key. Try to get a feel for which vegetables your child likes best and start there – then grow their palate over time.
Make Them Kid Friendly: There are plenty of ways you can make vegetables kid friendly. I suggest giving them a low-fat ranch dip for their snack-time veggies, encouraging them to make toothpick-veggie creations like dinosaurs and robots or making a dish like spinach dip that’s often perceived as tastier than a serving of steamed vegetables.
Start Young: It’s important to feed your child vegetables starting at a young age. There are plenty of blended baby food vegetable options, but don’t stop there. As your child begins to eat solid foods offer them vegetables often. Starting young will help establish the norm of eating healthy, and as your child grows up eating veggies it will become a part of their foundation and lifestyle.
Have a Garden: Creating a garden is a great way to get your child involved in growing and harvesting vegetables. It doesn’t have to be a big garden by any means; you could pick 2 or 3 veggies to grow on a small deck (if it gets consistent sunlight). If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, I highly encourage having a garden. You and your child, together, can water the garden daily and watch it grow. Your child will be excited when you finally get to harvest some of the food you’ve worked so hard to grow.
Encouraging your children to eat vegetables everyday is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It might be tricky to jump in and create a habit out of it, but trust me – it’s worth it!
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 6, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.