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How to sneak more veggies into your child’s diet

Many young ones are fussy around vegetables, so this is where we need to get creative! Hiding veggies into saucy foods or into baking are great ideas to increase a child’s veggie count for the day. Unfortunately, only 9% of Australian children are having enough vegetables in their diet. Together, let’s fix that!

How to sneak more veggies into your child’s diet

For Childcare centres, having a menu reviewed by a Dietitian is an easy way to ensure you’re offering the correct number of serves of veggies to the children per day. This is really important for long-stay care, as you are providing most of the child’s food for the day. For families, there are a number of ways you can increase veggie intake for your little ones too. Let’s take a look at how childcare centres and families are sneak more veggies into their child’s diet.


How big is a serve of vegetables for a child?

A serve of vegetables is the same size no matter how old you are. Children and adults eat the same size serve of veggies, only the number of serves per day that differs. A standard serve of vegetables is about 75g. To help visualize what 75g may look like, here are a few examples.

  • ½ cup of orange vegetables

  • ½ cup of beans

  • ½ cup of peas

  • 1 cup of leafy greens

  • ½ cup of sweet corn

  • ½ medium potato

What are the recommended Serves of Vegetables per day for children?

2-3 years

4-8 years

9-11 years

12-18 years

​Boys

​2 ½ serves per day

4 ½ serves per day

5 serves per day

5 ½ serves per day

Girls

​2 ½ serves per day

​4 ½ serves per day

​5 serves per day

​5 serves per day

Let’s Broc-n-Roll…

Tips to add more vegetables in a child’s meal or snacks

  • Blend veggies into pasta sauce

  • Blitz spinach into smoothies, use dark coloured fruits such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries to mask spinach green colour

  • Include children during the cooking process

  • Peel vegetables and use light-coloured vegetables to include into sauces such as zucchini

  • Use similar coloured vegetables in sauces such as carrots in tomato sauce, or butternut squash in mac and cheese

More tips from our Dietitians…


Spread the veggie intake throughout the day

We know it can be overwhelming trying to fit 4-5 serves of vegetables per day within a child’s diet. Here’s an example of what a full day of vegetable servings looks like for a child between the ages of 4-11 years old.

  • Breakfast – 1 slice of wholegrain toast with ½ baked beans (1 serve)

  • Morning Tea – 1 glass of blueberry smoothie with spinach (1 serve)

  • Lunch – Sandwich with 1 slice roast beef, 1 cup of salad, ½ tomato sliced (1.5 serves)

  • Afternoon Tea – 1 slice of kidney bean brownie (0.5 serve)

  • Dinner – 1 cup spaghetti with ½ cup tomato sauce mixed with lentils, carrots, spinach, mushrooms (1 serve)

Total vegetable serves for the day: 5


Lettuce do our best!

As parents and educators, we can only do our best to offer and provide nutritious food. Whether or not a child will eat it is another thing. Don’t be disheartened if a child refuses to try a new food. It can take up to 10 times for a child to accept a new food after being exposed to it. Therefore it is important that even if unsuccessful, you try and try again – one day they might surprise you!


Further reading


Parents & Educators need more Veggies too!

Are you getting enough vegetables in your day?

Vegetables in your diet. Nutrition tips from our Dietitians

For more personalised support, reach out to Dietitians.

We are here to help!

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