FOOD & DRINK: How to get a toddler to eat his greens

Toddler eating his greens
Three-year-old little C with a plate of lubia polo

Getting young children to eat up their greens has always been challenging and it’s certainly something a lot of parents struggle with.

We’re lucky in our household that little C can munch his way through an array of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables in the space of just a week. These days he even puts in an order for pineapple, pomegranates and watermelon before we do the weekly weekend shop.

Toddler eating watermelon
Watermelon is a firm favourite in our household

Experts from the University of Eastern Finland, recently studied the behaviour patterns of children between three and five years old. They found that dinner is the most important meal at home when it comes to teaching them to eat vegetables.

Researcher and nutritionist Kaisa Kahkonen said: “Our findings show that teaching children to eat their greens is not something mothers should be doing alone. A positive example set by both parents is important, as is their encouragement of the child.”

Family eating dinner together
Family time is the best time

Families taking part in the study often ate dinner together, highlighting the role of parental influence on the development of children’s dietary choices and preferences.

Toddler eating Persian rice with barberries
Little C tucks into rice with barberries and sultanas

This may explain a few things about why little C loves his greens because without fail, we always have a family meal every evening at the dining table. We share what we’ve done during the day and enjoy a home-cooked meal together. Family time is precious to us.

In our household, little C loves a little variation with raw veggies such as pickled cucumber (khiar shoor) and white cabbage (kalam sefid) served cold and green beans served hot. He loves nothing more than a plate of Persian lubia polo – green beans and rice.

If you’re looking to encourage your child to eat their greens, it’s important to take it one step at a time. Mix colourful veggies into their favourite meals and change the way you present them. Get them involved in the prep too, they’ll love this, even if it’s just tipping the seasoning pot into the mix. Most of all, make it fun!

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