Tip 1 - Let Kids Help
- Start in the store by letting your child pick out different fruits and vegetables to try. Use this MyPlate Grocery Store Bingo Game (PDF) to get them excited and to keep them occupied.
- Give them an easy task at mealtime, like washing the fruits or veggies, or setting the table. Remind them how important they are to the family and how much you appreciate their help.
Tip 2 - Make Simple, Fun Meals
- Taco Bar – Cook up a protein like beans, grilled chicken, ground turkey, or lean beef, and serve along with chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, grated low fat cheese and whole grain taco shells or tortillas. For more adventurous kids, offer black olives, salsa, avocado, or chopped onions.
- Build Your Own Pizzas – Serve whole grain pitas, English muffins, or whole wheat flour tortillas, along with tomato sauce and grated low fat cheese. Suggest your child make a face on their pizza using chopped veggies (canned mushrooms, black olives, green or red peppers, or onions work great).
- Dinner Dipping – Kids love to dip! Assemble a tray of cut up proteins (such as chicken, sliced hard boiled egg, or deli turkey); mild vegetables like cucumbers, baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes (cut in half to prevent choking); and let your kids dip in salad dressing, honey mustard sauce, hummus or a bean dip. Follow up with apple slices or cut banana with yogurt Fruit Dip for dessert. [Find healthy Dip Recipes here]
- Mix-It-Up Oatmeal Jars – Oatmeal is an inexpensive whole grain. Prepare using milk for extra nutrients, and then let your child top it with fruit and nuts and a drizzle of honey* for sweetness. Serve in mason jars or in your child’s favorite glass to make it even more fun. [*Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.]
Tip 3 - Serve Water or Milk
This is a biggie! Water is the BEST drink for kids. It’s inexpensive, it won’t cause cavities, and it has no calories. Milk is also a healthy option because it has calcium and vitamin D which are important for healthy bones and teeth.
Soda and other drinks with sugar can lead to unhealthy weight gain and painful cavities. Juice may seem like a healthy choice, but it is actually too high in natural sugars. If you are trying to get your child to stop drinking juice or soda, you can begin by diluting it with water so that their taste buds can adjust. Or serve one of our 5 Flavored Water Choices.
Did you know?
Soda has as much sugar as ice cream!
Watch the video to learn more:
Tip 4 - Try, Try, Try Again
Or, try adding veggies in new ways. Cooked broccoli and cauliflower have a much milder flavor than the raw versions, and they can be blended into soups and mashed potatoes. This helps children get used to their taste. "Hiding" vegetables in other foods gives your child more nutrients, but it won't help them develop the healthy habit of choosing fruits and vegetables on their own. So, try not to rely on that trick all of the time.
Don’t be discouraged if your child refuses new foods. Research has shown that sometimes it takes 7-10 tries before a child will accept and learn to like a new food. Your patience will pay off.
More Help for Feeding Kids
- Kid-Friendly Veggies & Fruits – 10 Tips for Making Healthy Foods More Fun for Children (English PDF, Spanish PDF)
- MyPlate Snack Tips for Parents – (English PDF, Spanish PDF)