Getting kids to
eat their vegetables is as close to "Game of Thrones" as some moms will ever get, especially
those with small children. There are evil glares and broccoli beheadings—so
much drama. It's almost as if Cersei herself is backstage, calling the shots.
If only you had
some wind chimes. Wait. What?
Though it might sound strange (read: doubtful) that noise from a wind chime could help motivate
babies, toddlers and little kids to eat their vegetables, Charles Spence,
a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford, says that
high-pitched music can accentuate the sweetness in food, thus making it more
palatable to children.
It takes time
for children, who are sensitive to taste or texture, to get used to eating
bitter or awkwardly shaped vegetables. According to Dr. Gemma Witcomb, a
lecturer in psychology at Loughborough University and a co-developer of the
Child Feeding Guide, this fussiness typically peaks around 18 to 24 months of
age, when infants are more aware of what they're eating.
seems new," she says. "Being fearful of new things is evolutionarily
adaptive; our ancestors needed to be fearful of new foods so that they didn’t
ingest potentially harmful foods.”
But what happens
when they start launching their veggies off their plates?
It's OK to get
frustrated when a child refuses to eat, but Witcomb says that threatening to
take away their dessert won't help. In fact, research shows that "their
liking for it will actually decrease even more as a result of this. Plus, it
makes the pudding even more prized.”
For this reason,
Witcomb says parents shouldn't pressure a child when introducing vegetables.
Instead, she suggests that you continue to offer these foods without saying a
word—up to 20 times—before deciding that your child doesn’t like it.
“Eat what you
expect your child to,” she says. “It’s amazing how often this doesn’t
happen. They will quickly work out you aren’t eating that cabbage that you’re
forcing them to try.”
So, go ahead and
take your kids to the supermarket. Let them choose which vegetables pair best
with plain noodles, and teach them how to play with their food without stress.
Hell, when they realize what they've accomplished; they may even take a bite on
But, just in
case, don't forget to add a dash of music while you try to get them to eat broccoli without a fight.
Chef Lee Gross, consulting chef at M Café in Los Angeles, is an expert in macrobiotic cuisine, and as the father of two little girls, ages 4 and 6, he always wants them to start the day with a hot, nutritious breakfast.
“It’s hard to get them to sit down to a bowl of oatmeal unless they virtually drown it in maple syrup. So we make breakfast porridge, but amp [up] its wholesomeness and staying power. To them it's a sweet, creamy, delicious oatmeal; to us, it’s peace of mind.”