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Get Kids Eating Veggies Early and Often

Partnership for a Healthier America

March 18, 2024

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Babies aren’t born liking veggies, but little ones can learn to love vegetables through early and often exposure to carrots, green beans, broccoli, peas, squash, artichokes, and more! Our partners at Partnership for a Healthier America share why vegetables are so important to children’s diets and give simple tips for teaching kids to eat and love vegetables.


Why Veggies Matter

Most of us have been taught that nutrient-rich foods help keep our bodies healthy as we age. In fact, veggie-forward diets play a powerful role in preventing chronic diseases and maintaining a healthy body weight throughout our lives—and learning to eat and enjoy vegetables starts in early childhood.

This means parents and caregivers need to train young eaters’ taste buds to appreciate vegetable flavors by introducing them to veggies early and often.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Only 10% of children eat the daily recommended amount of veggies.
  • The infant and toddler stage (4-24 months) is the best time to establish healthy taste preferences and eating habits.
  • A baby’s eating patterns will accompany them into childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.


Where to Get Started

1. Find “Veggie-Forward” Foods

Most food brands use fruit to mask the taste of veggies for toddlers and babies, keeping kiddos from experiencing the diverse flavors they need to develop their tiny taste buds. Look for foods that contain over 50% vegetables by weight and that are free from additives.

2. Start “Flavor Training” at 4-6 Months

As early as 4 months old, babies can begin “flavor training”—tasting tiny amounts of various pureed vegetables from a caregiver’s clean finger or a teaspoon. Flavor training doesn’t replace human milk or infant formula; it’s simply a way to introduce veggie flavors and ease the transition to more diverse foods as a child grows.

3. Serve Veggies Every Day

Because 4 to 24-month-old children have to learn to like vegetables, parents and caregivers should serve veggies at least once every day. Good thing this is already required by the CACFP for infants 6 months and up!

Don’t be deterred if, at first, you can’t find any veggies kids will eat. Studies indicate that even picky children are more likely to eat a veggie (or multi-veggie food) once they’ve tasted it 10+ times. One or two mouthfuls at each meal can turn their “yuck” into a “yum!”

The best part? Kids who repeatedly taste even one veggie may be more likely to enjoy new, different vegetables in the future!

4. Eat Well Together

In families who share most meals around the table, kids are more likely to eat their veggies. Family mealtimes are especially beneficial when little ones see big kids and grown-ups eating vegetables and other whole, healthy foods.

Around the table, parents and caregivers can easily introduce new vegetable flavors and textures to youngsters. The more frequently small eaters experience diverse foods, the more likely they’ll be to try and choose new, nutrient-rich options as they grow.


Read the full article and learn more about Partnership for a Healthier America’s Veggies Early & Often campaign.