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Help a Mom: Toddler won't eat fruits, veggies

Posted May 31, 2010

I got this desperate email from a mom a couple of weeks ago. And she could sure use some help. Do you have any advice?

From Delita:

I am writing you because I am desperate to get my 20-month-old son to eat fruits and vegetables. I have tried various fruits, whether from the can/cup or fresh, and he will not eat them. My son doesn't even like to eat strawberries or bananas! He will put the fruit in his mouth and soon as he bites down, he spits it out. The same goes for vegetables. I have even succumbed to put cheese on the vegetables thinking the cheese will make the veggies more appetizing, but no luck. I have read from various sources to try at least 10 times before giving up on fruits and vegetables but I am looking for ways to disguise them. My son loves mashed potatoes. I have even tried to hide small pieces of vegetables inside. As soon as he tastes the vegetable, he spits it out. I am open to any and all suggestions! Thank you.

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  • poeticallycorrect-InvNo1 Jun 2, 2010

    My son is two and he loves fruit but as far as veggies go, green beans are all he will eat. All he ever wants to eat are green beans, chicken nuggets, peaches, and yogurt. The Dr. said it is just a stage he is going through and I keep trying to get him to try new things but he is soooo stubborn. I'[ll be glad when he grows out of it. I am lucky though because I have a friend whose son would only eat foods that were yellow. corn, vanilla pudding, grits with butter. His choices were very limited.LOL

  • scarletindurham Jun 2, 2010

    My daughter loves spinach smoothies. Blend frozen fruit, milk or low fat yogurt, and several handfuls of spinach. It will be green, but you should not taste the spinach (I add a little splenda also). If you would like to disguise the color you can use raspberries or blueberries which will make it purple instead of green. My daughter's favorite so far has been the mango & peach, also strawberries & pineapple. She has no idea there is spinach in it because you can only taste the sweet fruit. I've also used spinach, cherries and (sugar free) chocolate syrup which makes it more dessert-like.

  • jstewart3 Jun 1, 2010

    Have you tried smoothies? We take OJ, water, a banana, and frozen strawberries or frozen mangoes and blend them in a blender. Another trick is to provide "sauce" (e.g., ranch dressing, ketchup, bbq sauce, etc.) with the veggies. Still another option (and probably the best one for you to try) is to try one of The Sneaky Chef cookbook by Missy Chase Lapine (you can get them at This cookbook provides ways to sneak fruits and veggies into everyday food - macaroni and cheese, nachos, cookies, etc. I haven't tried a whole lot of the recipes yet b/c my daughter actually does pretty well with fruits and veggies, but I can at least attest to the fact that the macaroni & cheese recipe (from scratch or from a box) really disguises the veggies quite well. Good luck!

  • MileageDontTakeYourKidsCrap Jun 1, 2010

    get a Zoku popsicle maker, and trick the kid into eating them. my fiance's kids (8 ad 10 years old!!) wont eat fruits or veggies. so, we'll take say, a banana, a little splash of milk, and blend it up and pop it in the zoku. 7 minutes later we've got an awesome, whole foods popsicle.

    we sneak in veggies in the darker pops, too. spinach hides well in plum pops.

  • lilypony Jun 1, 2010

    We started putting condiments on everything. You've got basic ketchup which they will eat on everything (literally... sooo gross) but they also have honey, chocolate syrup, strawberry jelly, cool whip, gravy, relish, cheese sauce, etc. Anything yummy is fair game. Yeah, it's adding unnecessary fat, sugar, calories, and salt to their diet, but we limit the amount of condiment added to minimize it. Their friends will set them straight when they're older and trying to put cool whip on a chicken fillet sandwich.

    As a side note, we do not have any sweets in the house, nor do we appease the fussiness with alternate meals. They eat what is served. We only make "kid food" if we're also eating it or if it's something spicy or we have company and the adults will be eating later. If they're not hungry enough to eat, they'll survive until morning

  • shall6 Jun 1, 2010

    An idea from a reader who emailed me:
    Have you tried the various juices on the market which combine fruits and veggies... maybe even in a sippy cup to make it easy to guzzle?

    Sarah (editor)

  • Mugu Jun 1, 2010

    If you starve him, he will eat anything.

  • gsmbaby19 Jun 1, 2010

    We did sticker charts with rewards for behavior such as this. Everytime my son tried a vegetable, he got a sticker. If he ate it all, he got another sticker. At 20 months ( until he was about 2 1/2 ), stickers were reward enough. After 2 1/2 or 3, whenever we use a sticker chart to modify behavior, we also had to include a periodic reward (indicated on the chart so my son could see progress). These have worked great at modifying undesirable behavior with minimal stress to my son or my family.

    We also only offer 1 option at mealtimes. You can choose to eat it or not to eat it, but there is no other meal. I do make sure that no more than 1 item offered is on my son's "difficult" list but our meals are family meals. I am not a cook to order chef.

  • sunydaze Jun 1, 2010

    another trick that works for us now that he is 3. give him a "kids" food plate and you eat from a grown up food plate. tell him/her they can't have "grown up" food, only baby food. our son loves to eat anything on our plate if we tell him he can't have it.

  • sunydaze Jun 1, 2010

    been there. done that. could be a texture thing, not just taste. turn a sweet potatoe into a french fry and try it. my son doesn't like slimy textures. at least he loves ketchup, it is veggie you know. good luck