Getting toddlers to eat spinach is a challenge. While spinach is one of the most desirable leafy green vegetables for good health, it’s taste and texture can make toddlers cringe.
The trick is to continually introduce small amounts – over, and over, and over. Repetition is the key. Don’t give up when your toddler says “yuck” for the 100th time. Keep food fun, not a battle or demand. And if all else fails, try camouflaging spinach — improving the nutritional quality of their food, while slowly tuning their taste buds.
Health Benefits of Spinach for Toddlers
Toddlers need lots of healthy vitamins, minerals, and fiber for their growth. Spinach contains many important nutrients that are difficult to find in other foods.
Packed with iron, zinc, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, spinach is a leafy green super food. Spinach offers twice as much fiber as other greens and can help combat toddler constipation by increasing fiber intake.
Toddlers can’t eat a whole bowl of spinach – their tummies are too small, and the bulk of raw spinach would fill them up quickly.
By cooking or blending spinach down, you can concentrate the nutrients and fiber. One serving of cooked spinach provides much more overall nutritional benefit than one serving of raw.
Make Spinach Fun for Toddlers
Healthy eating should be enjoyable, not a battle. Having fun with spinach is a good first-step toward actually EATING it. A good way to introduce raw spinach to your toddler is by providing a variety of “dipping sauces”, such as Italian or Ranch Dressing, or even just Ketchup.
Let them decorate their dinner plate by dipping spinach leafs as “brushes” into salad dressing “paint.” Hopefully they will even start tasting their artwork!
Talk about Healthy Eating Choices
Remember to tell your toddler that spinach is good for them. While sneaking spinach into their food is a great short-term strategy for improving the nutritional quality of their food, as they get older you want to teach children to make healthy food choices on their own.
Start early by talking about the health benefits of spinach at an early age. Discuss the different colors, shapes, and feel of healthy foods and why these differences are important to their growing bodies. It may take years and years, but one day you’ll be surprised to hear your child say “More spinach please.”
Yummy Recipes for Sneaking Spinach into Toddler Food
Try these yummy, healthy toddler recipes that incorporate spinach without your child even realizing. And remember, make sure raw spinach is washed. Although rare, E. coli contamination can occur from fresh spinach.