Chelsea, thanks for the reminder that it is worth the effort eventually! I am a vegie hider still (love one bowl meals so they can't dodge the vegies), but absolutely have to get past this stage. What are some of your favourite ways of serving vegies? And what are some strategies that have worked for your family? I have one that eats anything, and one that barely eats anything (not just vegies).
What are some of your favourite ways of serving veggies?
We love one pot meals too and they are often easier for the boys to eat. Generally our boys prefer pureed soups over chunky veggie soups. They will eat salad veggies in wraps and sandwiches but struggle with salad served on a plate (although we still serve them at least once a week for them to practice). I try to have basic meat and steamed veg meals a couple of times each week (Baf's chicken meal from the forum and my bangers and mash are two of our favourites). This prepares the boys for meals when we visit other peoples homes. They enjoy steamed veggies tossed in a little honey for a treat. They really love bubble and squeak and pizza with lots of veggie toppings. They like to be involved and are far more likely to eat the meal when they have helped to plan, grow or prepare it.
And what are some strategies that have worked for your family?
Those of you who know my family personally will no doubt agree with me when I say that our boys are two extremely different little chaps (both in personality and looks :-)). Our veggie feeding approach has reflected this difference and has been very different with each of our boys.
Our eldest son hated veggies with a passion from the moment we picked him up from Ethiopia at fourteen months! We really wanted to tread carefully and not force the veggie issue with him as bonding with him was much more important. When he was a little older though we devised a game using a divider bowl. In each section of the bowl we put a small amount of veggies (or main meal) and some little "treats" (crackers, dried fruit, cheese). Our rule was that he wasn't allowed to start eating from another section until he had eaten everything in the section in front of him. With lots of praise and encouragement this worked really well and the treats were gradually replaced with more veggies/main meal. He now eats veggies - albeit rather slowly!
Our second little man was a great veggie eater as a little bub but changed his mind about them when he hit the notorious toddler stage. Our approach with him was to be really firm. We used praise and encouragement but basically he wasn't allowed to get down from his chair until he had eaten a sufficient amount of dinner (and we were very reasonable with our dinners - no sprouts). If he refused to eat there was nothing else on offer - although we did introduce banana slices for supper at the time (totally unrelated to refusing dinner of course :-)). It was hard at times and I wouldn't recommend the approach for all children, but we do now have a little man at age almost 3 who eats really well. I know if we hadn't persisted with him he wouldn't be eating them at all now.
I think the most important thing is to devise a strategy and stick to it for at least a couple of weeks. Oh and never fall into the trap of offering an alternative at the table if they refuse to eat the reasonable meal that you have offered (no milkshakes, bowls of yoghurt etc). If you start doing that you may very well still be doing it when they are teenagers. Introduce supper if you need too just before bedtime, but there's no need to mention to them that it is a replacement for dinner. Decide your level of firmness and stick to it (allowing of course for illness, teething, tiredness etc).
I hope this helps a little. Good luck CB! :-)