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Broccoli - No Thanks!

Getting kids to eat fruit and vegetables can be hard. While many young children are happy to eat anything and everything, a large number will refuse certain foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.  

But why is this?

If you are struggling here are some tips from Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders.

'Children will often reject foods that are unfamiliar to them. Once they become more mobile, around 18-24 months, they become wary of bitter tastes and of foods that look ‘different’. This response is aimed at protecting children, to ensure that they don’t eat things that are poisonous, but it can be worrying for parents if their child suddenly decides they no longer like the kale or carrots that they happily ate as a baby.

One effective way to help to get children to eat novel foods is to increase a child's familiarity with them. Increasing food familiarity can be done at mealtimes, but also in a various other ways where food consumption is not the goal, such as:

  • Encourage your child to play with foods. Find pictures of fruits and vegetables that children can colour in or draw, or try using real fruits and vegetables in messy play - potato shapes or dried peas are great for creating different effects when painting.
  • Take your child to the shops or local market so that they can see different fruits and vegetables. Make a game of it. For example - who can spot three red foods?
  • Involve your child in food preparation so they get used to seeing and handling foods in their different states (raw, cooked). Children will often feel a sense of pride knowing that they’ve helped to make a meal or bake a lemon cake.
  • Vary the way that you offer a food. For example, raw carrot is fun not only as sticks (great for dipping) but also grated.
  • Be a good role model. Seeing you eating and enjoying a food can lessen the extent to which a child is wary of it.
  • Make it fun. Try chopping fruit and vegetables into faces or use them to make juices or healthy lollies.

Above all, keep calm and never pressure or force a child to eat something that s/he doesn’t want to. Eating should be an enjoyable experience for all members of the family.'

Dr Emma Haycraft & Dr Gemma Witcomb - Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders

Other ideas, tips and tools are available here: and a video clip on feeding kids here.

What are your top tips? Please do comment below and share them to help other parents.

If you are interested in Cooking with your kids check out our learning article.



Sarah Ryman

- Sarah Ryman

Sarah is a mum of 2 young children who blogs @afieldsomewhere

1 comment

  • Kathryn Grassie

    07:07PM 14 Sep 2013 Reply

    Excellent article as this is always a concern for parents.

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