My Toddler Won't Eat Vegetables


Read time: 4 minutes

What to know when your toddler refuses vegetables

  • Most toddlers go through a picky eating phase

  • Your toddler’s diet can be nutritious and balanced even without many, or even any, vegetables for some time

  • Repeated exposure to vegetables often increases the likelihood that your child tries them

We all know that vegetables can be part of an overall healthy diet and that they contribute essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants to our diet. But what if your toddler suddenly refuses to eat any vegetables, or never even ate them to begin with? Is this a cause for concern?

Rest assured: your little one will be ok, and with patience and persistence, may even learn to love veggies as they get older!

Benefits of vegetables

Whether raw, cooked, frozen, canned, cut, or whole, veggies provide good nutrition including potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C.1

But if your toddler completely avoids all vegetables, does that mean they’re missing these important nutrients? Not necessarily! These nutrients can also be found in a variety of other foods, such as fruits, whole grains, beans, and meat.

If your little one is enjoying a variety of other foods, they’re likely meeting their needs. Ultimately, the long-term goal should be to raise healthy eaters who eat a wide variety of foods, including veggies.

The tips and tricks below can help encourage veggie acceptance over time.

Read more: How to Include More Dark Greens in Your Daily Diet

Focus on your child’s overall diet

Toddlers have tiny tummies, so the amount they need to eat to meet nutrient recommendations is not that large.2 It can be helpful to look at your child’s overall diet, not just if they had any veggies that particular meal, day, or even week.

However, if your child’s diet includes a lot of heavily processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and minimal whole foods, they may be missing out on certain nutrients.

Read more:

Is my Toddler Eating Enough?

Meal Plan: How to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

How can I sneak vegetables into my child’s diet?

Ultimately, we don’t want to hide any foods from our kids, whether that looks like blending spinach into a smoothie or shredded carrots in their cookies.

While those tactics are perfectly fine for enhancing the nutritional quality of your foods, it doesn’t teach your child that they’re being exposed to – and potentially eating – vegetables.

Children need to see, smell, touch, taste, and know what they’re eating to decide if they like it.

To help your child have more opportunities to begin to accept vegetables, offer veggies both alone as well as in combination with other foods. The goal is to offer vegetables every day, in different forms, so that your little one gets used to seeing and smelling them. Your child needs to understand that even if they aren’t ready to eat it yet, it will always be available on their plate to try.

With enough exposure to vegetables, your little one may eventually surprise you and begin to eat them!

Recipe: Easy Veggie “Fried” Rice

Repeated daily exposure to vegetables is the key to acceptance

Repeated exposure to vegetables gives your child the opportunity to see, smell, touch, lick, and even taste the vegetables.6

Keep offering small servings of whatever vegetables are part of the family meal in a no-pressure environment so that your child has the opportunity to try it whenever they’re ready.3,4 No need to force your child to take a bite and create more mealtime battles.

Focus on providing a positive feeding environment that allows your child to explore vegetables and eating according to their own hunger and satiety cues.7

You can also provide opportunities outside of mealtime to expose your child to vegetables, such as having them cook alongside you, having your toddler wash the veggies, or helping you select one vegetable from each color of the rainbow at the grocery store.8,9

Read more:

The Division of Responsibility: Helping Avoid Picky Eating

Family Dinner Ideas: Fun and Easy Interactive Meals to Make with Your Child

Fun Food Activities to Do with Toddlers

Need help with your picky eater? Come chat with our team of registered dietitian nutritionists, fellow moms, and lactation specialists, available from Monday – Friday 8 am – 6 pm (ET). Chat now!

How should I prepare vegetables for my toddler?

There is no right or wrong way to give your toddler vegetables, as long as they’re an appropriate size and texture to help prevent choking and their preparation helps keep salt and added sugar to a minimum.10,11

Some toddlers enjoy raw veggies cut up and provided with a dip, like salad dressing or hummus. Others might prefer lightly steamed veggies that are cooked but still have crunch. Roasting vegetables also brings out their natural sweetness that may appeal to little one’s palates.

Start by offering just one bite-sized piece at a time as to not overwhelm your child with a large portion.

Learn about:

How Can I Get my Baby to Love Veggies?

Preventing Choking in Infants and Toddlers

Toddler-Friendly Vegetable Recipes

Try some new toddler-friendly recipes that include veggies to help increase your child’s exposure. Encouraging your little one to help prepare the recipe alongside you may even increase the likelihood of them wanting to taste the ingredients!

Remember to alter the size and texture of the below recipes to meet your child’s eating ability.


Broccoli & Cheese Nuggets

Chickpea and Carrot Spread

Cream Cheese Pinwheels with Bell Peppers

Thai Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu

Easy-Peasy 5 Veggie Pasta for Baby

Read more: What are the Benefits of Cooking with Your Kids?

What if I don’t think my toddler is meeting their nutrient needs?

If your child enjoys a wide variety of whole foods except for vegetables, there’s a good chance they’re meeting their nutrient needs. However, if you’re concerned that your child’s diet is lacking in nutrients, discuss what options are available with your little one’s pediatrician.

Know that it’s perfectly normal for toddlers to go through stages of picky eating, especially around veggies. Since taste buds change, it’s likely your toddler will grow into a child, teenager, and adult who likes and accepts veggies as well as many other new foods!

With patience and persistence, you will be on the path to raising a lifelong healthy eater.5

Read more: Supplements and Vitamins for Your Toddler

Let's Chat!

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Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up is required. Chat Now!

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Helping Your Child Build a Taste for Healthy Foods

Strategies for Creating a Healthy Kitchen for your Family

Meal Plan: How to Eat more Fruits and Vegetables