Until my older son, Jules, neared his second birthday, I believed that striving and conniving ways to trick kids into eating vegetables and other healthy foods was something only other moms had to do. My little boy loved all things from the garden, prepared any way. He scarfed down purees of beets and parsnips as a wee babe, then graduated to downing adult-size servings of cooked spinach and stealing tomatoes from our garden. (Seriously. With the dog.)
Then, he stopped eating the spinach. He quit swiping the tomatoes. And for a while, the only vegetables that seemed to go down were ones pureed and hidden in quesadillas. As a nutrition expert, I know that research suggests that it takes 10 to 15 tries before a kid will actually eat—and like—a new food. And from my experience as a mom, I’ve learned that a lost affinity for veggies often returns. Now, at 3, he eats most veggies—usually preferring them raw—though he still doesn’t like tomatoes. My point: when it comes to helping your child to love new foods, you need to be persistent but not pushy. Here are some of my best personal tricks.