Vegetables play an important role in Your Child’s growth and development. They are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium, which are necessary to maintain good health.
Vegetables that are good for children
Vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, so the more varieties your child eats the better. Examples of good vegetables include:
- Summer squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Baby corn
- Green beans
- Green hatch
- Bok choy
- Morning glory
To avoid the risk of choking, ensure you thinly slice or cut, and always cook, vegetables well before giving them to your child. Very young children should not eat raw vegetables.
Age recommendation for vegetables
Depending on their age, children are recommended to eat the following amounts of vegetables every day:
- Ages 1 – 3: 1 – 1.5 cups
- Ages 4 – 8: 1.5 – 2.5 cups
- Ages 9 – 13: 1.5 – 3 cups
Health benefits of vegetables
- Cognitive health: Vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, help the brain to function better because they contain important nutrients such as vitamin K, folate, lutein, and beta carotene.
- Disease prevention: Consistent consumption of vegetables helps in reducing the risk of health conditions, such as some cancers and heart diseases.
- Gut health: Vegetables provide fermentable dietary fibers such as pectin and inulin, which are important in gut health. Dietary fiber present in vegetables helps add bulk to the diet and aids bowel movement. Together, these qualities help prevent constipation and promote gut health. A healthy gut helps in the absorption of necessary nutrients for growth.
- Energy: Some vegetables contain natural sugar, such as fructose and glucose, which are a healthy substitute for processed high-sugar items like candies.
- Bone health: Apart from helping in potassium uptake in the body, vegetables contain vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help maintain healthy bones.
- Immunity: Vegetables provide vital bioactive compounds, including vitamins and minerals, which help to fight off oxidative stress and boost the immune system.
Tips to help children eat vegetables
- Introduce vegetables slowly and in small portions. Children may refuse to eat them at first, but with time, they will begin to be receptive to vegetables. Cut them creatively and in chunks that are fun to hold.
- Do not feed your child the same vegetables day after day. Some children hate kale but love soft, boiled carrots.
- Do not force Your Child to eat. If you force the food on them, it would be counterproductive, making them lose interest in the food completely.
- Be creative in the way you serve vegetables. For instance, try serving vegetables with sprinkled cheese.
- Give Your Child the chance to choose the type of vegetable they want. When they are older, involve them in grocery shopping.
- Be a good example. Eat varieties of vegetables while having a family meal. Do not say no to any vegetable in front of Your Child.
If you have space for it, grow vegetables with your child. This will increase their interest in veggies.
Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (15 July 2021)