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Encouraging Your Child to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

You know that it's important for children to eat fruits and vegetables, but getting them to actually do so can be a challenge. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get those nutritious fruits and veggies into your child's diet.

Try These Quick Tips

  • Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table for a quick, easy snack.
  • Always have freshly cut vegetable sticks in the refrigerator.
  • Add raisins, bananas and other fresh or dried fruits to hot or cold cereals.
  • Top broiled or grilled meats with a homemade salsa made with tomatoes, mangoes, avocados, red onions, cilantro and lime juice.
  • Add bananas or berries to pancakes.
  • Provide dried fruit instead of candy.
  • Keep a bag of frozen vegetables in the freezer and add to stews, casseroles and stir-fried dishes.
  • Freeze fruits such as bananas or grapes for a frozen treat.

Empower Your Child

  • Let your child choose a fruit or vegetable that looks appealing at the grocery store.
  • Involve your child in preparing meals so that he or she can become familiar with the foods.
  • Have a raw and cooked vegetable option so that your child can choose the one he likes best. Some children like the crunch in raw vegetables, while others like vegetables to be soft and mushy.

Don't Give Up

  • Children can be very picky. It may take as many as 10 to 15 tries with a new food before a child is willing to accept it.
  • Think about color, smell and texture when introducing a child to a new food. A child may enjoy raw crunchy broccoli but not cooked broccoli in casseroles, or soft canned peaches but not freshly sliced peaches.
  • Be a positive role model. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Encourage your child to try new foods in a comfortable meal environment.

Be a Little Sneaky

  • Add broccoli florets or julienne carrots to pasta or potato salad.
  • Add spinach, mushrooms or zucchini to spaghetti sauce.
  • Mash beans and add corn and carrots in chili.
  • Shred zucchini and carrots into meat loaf or casseroles.

Note: Raw fruits and vegetables, such as grapes and corn, may pose a choking hazard for children under 4 years of age. Cut grapes in quarters, grate carrots and remove strings from celery for younger children.

Recipe Ideas

Frozen Fruit Kabobs

What You'll Need:

  • Melons, pineapple, berries and grapes
  • Skewers without sharp corners such as a popsicle stick

Cut chunks of fresh fruits such as melons, pineapple, berries or grapes. Put the chunks on a stick without sharp corners and place inside the freezer until frozen. These are great for an afternoon snack on a warm summer day.

Ants on a Log

What You'll Need:

  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 5 to 7 raisins
  • 1 celery stick

Spread peanut butter into a celery stick. Place raisins on the peanut butter.

Butterfly Sandwich

What You'll Need:

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 2 tsp. peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 celery stick

Spread the peanut butter on the bread and celery stick. Place sliced bananas on the peanut butter. Cut the bread diagonally and arrange the triangle pieces so that the points touch each other in the middle. Place the celery stick between the two points on the triangle.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.