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Do you hide food from your toddler?

Do you hide food from your toddler?

Virtually every parent has battled with their little ones to ‘eat their vegies’ haven’t they? Whether they are green or orange in colour, it is almost guaranteed that at some point they will screw up their faces and refuse to eat the delicious meal you have put in front of them.

I went through this a while back with one of my children. They acted as if I was trying to poison them when I prepared little plates of broccoli and carrots. It didn’t matter if I rearranged it all into smiley faces to entertain them, or added lots of tomato sauce (I know, I know, but I was desperate) they point blank refused to touch it. I have always tried not to get too caught up in making meal time a warzone. However I also want my children to have some semblance of a nutritionally balanced diet. So it was a problem.

Then my sister in law sent me that book by Jessica Seinfeld about hiding food. Or more specifically pureeing vegetables and adding them to dishes without telling your children about it. And it worked like a charm. It’s such a simple idea but in my sleep deprived state it hadn’t even occurred to me. Another mum asked me if I felt bad not telling my kids what they were eating, and my answer was no. I was doing this for their own good. And I suspect that is a line of argument I will be holding right throughout their teenage years as well.

So I was pleased when I saw that a recent study of three to six year olds, found that you can double their daily dose of vegetables if you hide the pureed vegetables in their meals. While the children eat the same amount of food, they will eat twice as many vegetables without knowing it.

So these days I look for recipes like this pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and cheese pasta mix and Little Zucchini Lamb Cakes when preparing meals for my children, particularly my one who is apparently “allergic to vegetables” or so he tells me.

How do you get your toddlers to eat vegetables?

28 Member comments Post a reply

Avatar SarahBlogger



Sarah hides food from her kids. Studies show kids have a healthier diet if you do it. What do you think?

Read the full blog post: Do you hide food from your toddler?

Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:25 PM

Avatar juliesdroolies

I totally disagree with this method of dealing with fussy eaters. I would rather see parents persist with the vegies. If they dont eat them, eat them yourself... show them that they are yum and good for you. If they havent eaten them, then give them a multivitamin. Studies have shown that children will eat what the family eats eventually...If they see good eating habits, they will copy them. It may take some time but it will happen. My son would only eat vegies for Nana when he was a little fella, now he is 13 and loves all vegies, salads,even legumes and beans.
Give the child 4 or 5 vegies and ask them to choose 2 that they want to eat at that meal. Have the child help you prepare the meal. Peel the carrots. Put the frozen peas in a pot...
It trouble me that parents of today give in to children's whims to their detriment. When will your child learn to eat vegies? Are you going to puree for them for the rest of their life?

Posted 14 September 2011 - 11:26 PM

Avatar boofarama

The only food that I have evr hidden from my kids is Sultanas and Tomatoes(if I was running low.)

My two eldest kids would demolish a 1kg packet of sultanas if you let them and as a result they would not eat anything else that day. I would regularly come out of the bathroom or inside from getting the washing off the line and find them on the kitchen floor shoving handfuls in their mouth. I thought they would get over it but had to remove them from reach and put something in front of them as if they saw them they would refuse to eat anything else.

DD1 is crazy about tomatoes and has been since she started on solids. She will just go to the fridge and grab one and eat it like an apple. Sometimes i've bought a couple of kilos and a couple of days later gone to make a salad and the bag's empty!

It's funny because they can reach the chips etc. but I suppose they get it that they are sometimes foods!

Oops! I misunderstood the point of the article. Maybe I should have read the attatchment!!! [url=http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/skype-emoticons....]

Posted 14 September 2011 - 11:52 PM

Avatar OC1246

I don't care whether vegies are in dishes and the kids can't see them. I do care if they are purposely being hidden so they can't see them. I treat food as food. i don't make it into smiley faces or cut bread into special shapes. The kids help grow the veg, they pick the veg for the dishes, they have input into the meals, they help cook the meals and they eat them. if they go through a stage of not eating much then all treats are withdrawn (not as a punishment, I just don't offer them) I only offer nutrient rich food until the stage has passed. They have never refused any food for any length of time. (except goats cheese and olive oil) I believe everyone expects a fussy stage, so at the slightest thing parents panic and start coming up with ways to cope with "a fussy eater." Food is food, don't make a big deal out of it. Its just a normal everyday part of life. smile

Posted 15 September 2011 - 12:50 AM

Avatar pennys2011

I have never pureed veggies into food for the kids- i do chop small or grate veggies in some meals but the kids still know its there, they just can't pick it out smile I personally prefer my vegies like that anyway.

Some meals we have it chopped larger, some meals all the ingredients are mixed in, some they're all seperate- It depends on the meal.

Some veggies i don't like much- but i still eat them- the kids know that and know that they are good for them and follow my example most the time.

If they don't eat something i consider to be important for them (nutritionally) they don't get 'treat' food options.

I don't have a big problem with the kids and veg. the hardest part i have at the moment is getting DD to eat Breakfast (it doesn't seem to make much difference what it is) she usually leaves it and then eats it at morning tea time. But i DO require her to eat it- because i think it is important for her to learn to eat Breakfast.

Posted 15 September 2011 - 01:12 AM

Avatar mummy2noah

For 1 year I hid vegies (had the Jessica Seinfeld book), but I also had vegies in plain site. The hidden vegies in the pasta sauce were just back-ups to the visable ones that were more often than not picked out.
We always eat dinner together as a fmaily. We always all eat the same thing, but it didn't work. He wouldn't eat the vegies. We tried ice-cream bribery. That worked but only accasionaly.And only after a good solid 20 minutes coaxing.
We turned to vitamins about 6 months ago becuase more often thatn not he was eating plain rice or pasta.

Recently we have had some success, if I give hime a choice or vegtables while I am cooking and remind him that he needs to eat them all up like cookie monster before eating his sausage/fish/chicken/meatballs he complies. There is a lot of grilled sweet potato and steamed spinach going on in our house at the moment. There is not a lot of carrots or broccali being chosen.
I'm sure it is just a matter of time before he broadens his vegie repotiore.

Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:27 AM

Avatar pennys2011

[quote name='boofarama' date='14 September 2011 - 02:52 PM' timestamp='1315972360' post='3059573']
Oops! I misunderstood the point of the article. Maybe I should have read the attatchment!!! [url=http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/skype-emoticons....]
[/quote]

Hehe - don't worry - thats how i understood it at first too!!!

Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:32 AM

Avatar Samantha_Bell

I have the opposite problem when it comes to vegetables. My daughter will even eat the vegetables i don't eat... But when it comes to giving her any type of protein, it is a struggle. I went through 2 routes. 1 - the route of, i have given you some meat, you eat that first then you get your vegetables. She would try to find any excuse not to eat it, i has squishy bits on it (the fat on meat), i don't like it. Her main problem is the chewing she gets too tired from having to chew through the meat. To get around the problem i took the 2nd route - i asked her what was her favourite way of each meat to be done... as they are all easy to make and the entire family eats the same dish.

I got an idea of her favourites and i no longer have any struggle. we also made the deal that when we are trying something new she has to eat it all and if she doesnt like it afterward then i don't make it for her again.

Posted 15 September 2011 - 11:34 PM

Avatar LouisaClaire

Hi Sarah, when I first heard about this approach I wasn't at all a fan. I believed (and still do) that it's great to give kids a variety of foods and encourage them to eat broadly and we've done that with a good degree of success. HOWEVER, my initial thoughts were formed when my firstborn was still very young and now that she is older there are times when getting her to eat a meal is plain hard work and I can really see the value of hiding some additional veges into her food to be sure that she is getting the nutrients she needs. It doesn't have to be about deception but presentation. My baby boy is much more fussy about food and I can see this being really helpful for him too.

On the other end of the spectrum are my grandparents who have a terrible diet and don't get anywhere enough nutritious food into them. I have often made them a zucchini and carrot cake to eat because they simply will eat that I know that it's a much better option for them and just as yummy as making a standard cake.

Thanks for sharing, it's been helpful for me to revisit this especially at the moment. x

Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:54 AM

Avatar Holden_Rulez2005

Sorry im so late with a comment. I havent hidden food or pureed any with my nearly and a half year old. He isnt a fussy eater. Which is a good thing for us because im pretty fussy with my food. But i encourage my son to eat things my partner and i may not be able to have. My partner is lactose intolerant but our son understands his dad cant have certain foods. I was brought up that if i didnt eat what was on my plate i didnt eat. Im not as strict with my son but i stil believe in it. I wish you the best of luck!

Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:46 AM

Avatar Holden_Rulez2005

Sorry im so late with a comment. I havent hidden food or pureed any with my nearly and a half year old. He isnt a fussy eater. Which is a good thing for us because im pretty fussy with my food. But i encourage my son to eat things my partner and i may not be able to have. My partner is lactose intolerant but our son understands his dad cant have certain foods. I was brought up that if i didnt eat what was on my plate i didnt eat. Im not as strict with my son but i stil believe in it. I wish you the best of luck!

Posted 07 October 2011 - 01:46 AM

Avatar I luvs my bubs

I hide food from my almost 3 year old all the time, he's always been a fussy eater and I can't remember a time he has willingly eaten a vegetable, recently he realised that chips are made from vegetables, we used to make them ourselves out of sweet potato, potato and pumpkin, he won't eat them anymore, so I've resorted to hiding them while keeping up with the offerings, he gets 'normal' veggies on his plate, which are almost always thrown on the floor and when that fails he has his hidden veggies, I hide spinach in macaroni and about 5 veggies in my usual pasta sauce, it means we all eat healthier as well and, personally, I find the meals taste nicer. My daughter is completely different, she's always been happy to eat whatever I give her and one of her favorite foods is peas, eventually my son will outgrow his hatred of veggies but I think I'll still mix pureed veggies in with our meals because it just tastes better!

Posted 17 October 2011 - 03:27 AM

Avatar Irmaandtom

Food has never been a big deal in my home. We offer breakfast lunch and dinner and snacks in between. No food is higher on the pedestal than others - ie I don't bribe with chocolate, and I don't with-hold treats (we teach balanced diet and exercise too). My child knows that dinner is dinner = time for vegies and full tummies, dessert is fruit and yoghurt. From an early age I discarded pureed food - and did fork mashing - to allow my child to feel the real texture of the food. I always kept vegies seperate from each others - to allow her to choose which ones she wanted to eat. I didn't care if all she ate was carrot in a meal, the choice was there for her. I made it my rule to offer her the food - it was up to her to eat it. I never stress too much if she doesn't eat (I know I'm not always hungry at every meal!) - the next meal is not too far off, and water is a good thing to offer hungry child. Yes they'll whinge - but they'll whinge even if they got everything they wanted!

Posted 21 October 2011 - 05:53 PM

Avatar Carmina1990

[quote name='boofarama' date='14 September 2011 - 01:52 PM' timestamp='1315972360' post='3059573']
The only food that I have evr hidden from my kids is Sultanas and Tomatoes(if I was running low.)

My two eldest kids would demolish a 1kg packet of sultanas if you let them and as a result they would not eat anything else that day. I would regularly come out of the bathroom or inside from getting the washing off the line and find them on the kitchen floor shoving handfuls in their mouth. I thought they would get over it but had to remove them from reach and put something in front of them as if they saw them they would refuse to eat anything else.

DD1 is crazy about tomatoes and has been since she started on solids. She will just go to the fridge and grab one and eat it like an apple. Sometimes i've bought a couple of kilos and a couple of days later gone to make a salad and the bag's empty!

It's funny because they can reach the chips etc. but I suppose they get it that they are sometimes foods!

Oops! I misunderstood the point of the article. Maybe I should have read the attatchment!!! [url=http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/skype-emoticons....]
[/quote]



this made me laugh so hard haha atleast your kids like the healthy food <span class="emoticon smile">smile</span> !

Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:50 PM

Avatar Carmina1990

[quote name='boofarama' date='14 September 2011 - 01:52 PM' timestamp='1315972360' post='3059573']
The only food that I have evr hidden from my kids is Sultanas and Tomatoes(if I was running low.)

My two eldest kids would demolish a 1kg packet of sultanas if you let them and as a result they would not eat anything else that day. I would regularly come out of the bathroom or inside from getting the washing off the line and find them on the kitchen floor shoving handfuls in their mouth. I thought they would get over it but had to remove them from reach and put something in front of them as if they saw them they would refuse to eat anything else.

DD1 is crazy about tomatoes and has been since she started on solids. She will just go to the fridge and grab one and eat it like an apple. Sometimes i've bought a couple of kilos and a couple of days later gone to make a salad and the bag's empty!

It's funny because they can reach the chips etc. but I suppose they get it that they are sometimes foods!

Oops! I misunderstood the point of the article. Maybe I should have read the attatchment!!! [url=http://www.easyfreesmileys.com/skype-emoticons....]
[/quote]



this made me laugh so hard haha atleast your kids like the healthy food <span class="emoticon smile">smile</span> !

Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:50 PM

Avatar beksparkles

i hide veggies from my 18mth old all the time... as a baby she loved her vegies, but now she's a toddler she refuses them. i like to chop up potatoes and we have home made chips, cooked in the oven with olive oil and some salt or herbs for flavour. i puree up vegies and make mini quiches. i add vegies to anything and everything. spag bol is loaded with vegies, chicken bosciola has hidden vegies, casseroles, home made rissoles, salmon patties, everything!!! i still offer her vegies, but if she refuses to eat them, she's still getting them without knowing. she'l grow out of it one day...

Posted 26 October 2011 - 01:54 AM

Avatar Ozziliz

Shred cabbage, add a dash of golden syrup and a couple of bits of butter, microwave a short time - it needs to still be a bit crispy. A quarter of a whole cabbage only needs about 2 minutes. Even big kids who don't eat veggies can't resist this recipe - my 30 year old nephew who hated cabbage all of his life is now a fan! Fruit is also a great substitute, what's wrong with a few slices of apple or banana and a mandarin instead of veggies. Raw carrot is often also better received than cooked - same with lovely fresh beans. Persevere until you find something they like - there will be at least one vegetable they eat and after that give it to them and wait a month or so until you try to introduce something else again - they'll be bored by then and happy for a change! Experienced Gran!

Posted 11 November 2011 - 07:48 AM

Avatar kay8805

oh wow id love to figure out how to get my fusspot child to eat better. she straight out refuses to eat foods and will go hungry if she doesnt like whats there....do i need to see a nutritionist for her??

her diet consists of cracker, biscuits, sausages, rice/couscous, and bananas...maybe a ham and cheese sammie in there but no other fruit or veg even if i bake em into something she wont eat it....

Posted 20 January 2012 - 07:48 PM

Avatar EmilyTheStrange

I don't hide vegies at all... I don't have time to cut them up so small and simmer them in sauces grin
I am lucky because DD (21 months) loves her vegetables, esp peas!

Posted 22 January 2012 - 07:54 AM

Avatar KA7747

I add lots of veges to things like the sauces you use on chicken and all tomatoe based sauces. I don't think of this as hiding veges. I just think of it as a normal way to add nutrients. It bulks meals out and helps it go further. If it includes something my kids are not keen on I allow them to pick it out. As they have got older picking it out is not so much fun so half the time they just eat it.

I have one who will not eat potatoes, but will eat hot chips. He knows they are made of potatoe, but still won't eat homemade chips or wedges.

One thing that works is Taco's with a selection of grated carrot, tomatoe, cucmber, peppers, avacardo, lettice and red onion. The kids are willing to try more things when they can add the amount they want and see us piling our ones up high with healthy choices.

Posted 31 January 2012 - 07:02 AM

Avatar joeyboy86

My girl is turning two in may and I find putting the rubbish /junk foods up high away from her to reach, because she is for ever getting into the fridge or opening cuboard. I found hidding it helps because your donig them a favour as well as saving a lot of tantrums and screamimg, because its i want i want but sometimes i'll give in.

Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:41 AM

Avatar joeyboy86

lol I just read that blog woops
.
I guess each to there own, I sneak a few peas in her mash potatoe, because theres no way she will eat them and forcing her to eat them isnt going to happen.

Posted 25 March 2012 - 11:55 AM

Avatar allison*

I dont really sneak things as my kids help me cook, most momce dishes will have carrot, zucchini and spinach, tomatoes in pasta, peas and corn in pies as we all have more vegies this way, they eat the raw ones whilst im grating them

Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:04 PM

Avatar Aly_Rebel3

i often hide veggies in my meals. i did this bfore i had my son, because his dad is a bit picky some times, tho he never complains. so its a bit of a habbit, however i do think it is important to teach our kids to eat their veggies. i rekkon it helps them to learn not to be picky eaters as they get older.

Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:52 AM

Avatar Just_A_Tad

make a stir fry with all sorts of veges put some 2min noodles in bita sauce like soy or tin tomatoe4s works wondas. they wont no what they eating. also sweetchilli sauce and blob butter always good in mash potato

Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:50 AM

Avatar FTADC2

i did hide food from my son, but i dont have to do it for my girl, but i dont hide sweets from them i always have them in the house and i have found it better this way because they dont big out on them when given to them.

Posted 17 April 2012 - 04:28 PM

Avatar Danielle-98

I think we need to try whatever it takes to ensure our toddlers eat a balanced diet, and if resorting to guerilla tactics is required then so be it. Keep offering whole veggies, sure, keep offering different options too, but you need to have some fail safe tricks up your sleeve to keep from going mad!!
I have some awesome veg pikelets that I blogged if you're interested in checking them out. My 2 year old has loved these since he started finger food, and I can throw in whatever I have! Look up Triple C pikelets.
Http://keepingupwiththeholsbys.wordpress.com

Posted 24 April 2012 - 04:45 AM

Avatar bindygirl

I have found having a vege patch has helped with the vege problem. I have fresh tomatoes and carrots peas etc growing and the kids think its great when they can help themselves to the ripe ones (you need to keep an eye on the younger as I found my daughter(18months) would start eating green ones if no red ones are available) they think its a little cheeky and then if they don't want the ones I have for dinner it doesn't matter. I also have a bowl of fruit readily available that they can reach and if complaints of hunger are heard I send them to the fruit bowl.

You can grow veges in window sill planters in the winter and have the kids help water them. They then feel as though the veges are there. Plant shops (Bunnings etc) have small planters and kid friendly start up packs available.

I hope this helps

Posted 23 May 2012 - 08:09 PM

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