You're all for your kids eating healthy. You know that they will feel better, act better, sleep better—but getting them to actually eat healthier is easier said than done. Life is busy, food is expensive and kids can be picky. So, what’s a parent to do?

First, know that you’re not alone. Raising kids is not easy by any means. And it takes time to change your family's routines and habits—including what your kids like to eat. Start slowly and try these tips to help your child eat healthy foods, like fruits and veggies. The suggestions are from Healthy Eating Research for kids ages 2-8 years and have been shown to work.

Tips to Help Your Child Eat Healthy

  • Offer a healthy food to your child over and over again. Kids may need to taste something 10-15 times before they like it. So don’t give up too soon.
  • Serve a new food or food they don’t like with something they do like. A favorite dip can help your child eat raw vegetables, like carrots. Or add a new vegetable, like peas, to a well-liked noodle or rice dish.
  • Put fruits or veggies on the table first. When your child’s appetite is raging, but dinner isn’t ready yet, set out the fruit or veggie and take advantage of this moment.
  • Give your child a choice based on what you have. Say, “Would you like oranges, apples or grapes with your meal?” A little power can make a big difference.
  • Let them see you enjoying healthy food. Your child will be more likely to accept the new food if they know you eat it and like it, too.

Overall, remember to make mealtime pleasant. Don’t pressure your child to eat. That will only backfire.

Materials for Families & Educators

About Pick a Better Snack

Pick a Better Snack aims to help children eat more fruits and vegetables. Nutrition educators teach 30-minute interactive lessons once a month in kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms. Students learn why fruits and vegetables are so good for their bodies, where and how fruits and vegetables grow and tasty ways to eat them. You may use the Contact Us system to send us a question online. 

This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Read the full non-discrimination statement and learn how to file a complaint.