The Top 10 Easiest Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

The Top 10 Easiest Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy

It’s never too early or too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle – and the kitchen is an excellent place to start! Whether you’ve got an adventurous eater or finicky feeder, kids can learn to love (or at least accept) nutritious foods. Almost every tot goes through a picky stage, making mealtime a lot more stressful and discouraging than it has to be. If that’s where you’re at, then hang in there! We’ve got a few tips that, with practice, can help your kid come around! 

Here are our top 10 easiest ways to get kids to eat healthy: 

#1 Have Fun With Food.

Toys, books, and kitchen sets are perfect gateways to healthy eating. Surround your little food critic with pretend fruits and veggies, books about farming, and kid-friendly kitchen tools. Our favorite way to have fun with food? ChopChop Family’s Eatable Alphabet – a delightful deck of educational cards that teach toddlers about real food and cooking. Hello Bello employees have tested these out on our own kiddos and the vote is unanimous: Eatable Alphabet is a brilliant way to encourage healthy eating! Visit their shop and use code HELLOBELLO15 for 15% off their Activity Cards, magazine subscription, and more!

#2 Teach ‘Em Young. 

The more we learn about food and where it comes from, the more respect we’ll have for it (and it might even turn your reluctant eater into a full-fledged foodie!). For some edible education consider planting a garden, growing herbs indoors, or joining a community garden. And when spring and summer roll around, visit your nearby farmer’s market as a way to learn about local food, seasonal produce, and different types of fruits and veggies. Plus, there are often samples and kids love taste-testing! 

#3 Cook Together.

Make some memories in the kitchen! Kids love to “help” and mimic their caregivers, so let your wee one participate. Older kids can tear lettuce for salad, mash bananas for banana bread, or stir ingredients together in a bowl. Even babies like to be a part of the action, so pull their highchair up to the counter for a front row view. Let them smell, touch, and (if age appropriate) taste whatever you’re cooking up. And on days you can’t involve them, give your kids wooden spoons, pots, and pans to play with. Wondering what this has to do with teaching kids to eat healthier? When we engage littles in our everyday lifestyle choices (like cooking, exercising, or even chores), they’re much more likely to be curious, willing participants when it comes time to dig in at the dinner table. 

#4 Set an Example. 

Demonstrate a healthy attitude and relationship with food so eating fruits and veggies feels “normal.” When mealtime comes around, enjoy the food on your plate, pause between bites, chat with your dining companions, and involve your kid. Pull their highchair up to the table and let them eat what you’re eating (with necessary modifications, of course!). Note: If your family normally scarfs down their food, eats standing up, or looks at their electronics during the meal, now’s a great time to brush up on your table manners. Your little one is watching EVERYTHING. 

#5 Be Nonchalant. 

When picky eating strikes, make the dinner table a pressure-free zone. Don’t harp on your kid to finish their plate and, on the flip side, don’t overdo it with praise when they scarf it all down. Keep eating anxiety at bay by adopting a neutral attitude about food. Plus, let’s be real, would you want somebody micromanaging your every munch? We didn’t think so! 

As tempting as it may be, don’t bargain with your toddler about food – it’ll only come back to bite you (pun intended) by creating a stressful power struggle at every single meal of the day. Do: Keep the mood upbeat and trust in the process. Don’t: Don’t force kids to finish their plate at every single meal, as it teaches them to ignore their body’s hunger and fullness signals. 

#6 Give Them Choices.

Make ‘em think they’re in charge. Let your kid choose between 2 or 3 healthy options, so they have some autonomy over what goes in their mouth. And no matter what option they choose, enjoy it with them for some positive eating reinforcement. If you’ve got a particularly anxious eater on your hands, go over the weekly meal plan together and let them help you decide what’s on the menu. Afterwards, head to the grocery store together to buy your ingredients. Ownership in the process = more buy in! 

#7 Get Points For Presentation. 

It’s been said that people “eat with their eyes first.” This is especially true of toddlers! Here are few ways to jazz things up:

  • Make a smiley face out of whatever’s on their plate! 
  • Use cute cookie cutters on toast or pancakes (or anything that they’ll work with!). 
  • Add dip whenever possible, because kids just love it! Healthy, homemade dips (like honey mustard or yogurt and dill dip) are super easy to whip up and keep on hand. 
  • Add teeny tiny, diced veggies to anything and call it “sprinkles”!
  • Make healthy hummus cups – add sand (hummus), trees (broccoli), a patch of grass (mashed avocado), and rocks (cherry tomatoes). 

#8 Be Predictable.

Just like a bedtime routine, kids do best with a cuisine routine, too. Keep mealtime and snack time predictable so your kid always knows the drill. Try offering a veggie and fruit each time they sit down at the highchair or table (maybe a healthy fat and carb, too) – over time, they’ll come to expect it and, hopefully, encountering healthier foods won’t be such a scary prospect. ;)  

#9 Be Sneaky. But Not TOO Sneaky.

You’ve been hyper aware of what’s gone in your baby’s belly since day one – so you know when your wee one is way overdue for something green. Luckily, there are tons of ways to disguise veggies in any dish. Add chopped spinach, carrots, or celery to pasta sauce. Make a “rainbow pizza” with diced up peppers, broccoli, and basil. Include greens in your morning smoothie. Add fruits to a batch of homemade popsicles. Bake some zucchini muffins.  

Beware: While it’s A-OK to slip some spinach or avocado into a smoothie, for example, it’s not teaching your kid to willingly eat said spinach or avo. But hey, if they’ll slurp it down and you’re desperate to boost their nutrition, then go for it. Just don’t give up on intro’ing them to real, whole foods (in their original form!) as often as you can. 

#10 Try, Try Again.

Teaching kids to eat (and enjoy) healthy foods is a process. Remember: If your little one turns up their nose at avocado one day, it doesn’t mean they’ll refuse it next time – keep offering and exposing them to it at different times and in various forms. In other words, don’t give up! Stay consistent and patient as your baby’s taste buds and preferences grow and develop. 

And if they never come around to kale or cucumbers or [insert healthy food here] – it’s ALL good. Celebrate the foods they do enjoy (and consider a kid-friendly multivitamin to be extra sure they’re getting those essential vitamins and minerals)! You’ve got this! 

How do you get your kids to eat healthy foods? Please share your ideas in the comments!

P.S. If you want to learn more genius tips, follow us on Instagram for our #KidFriendlyFoodFriday series in stories every Friday this month! Share photos of your kiddos in the kitchen or their culinary creations for a chance to win a 3-month supply of Hello Bello Gummy Vitamins [15 bottles of your choosing], an Eatable Alphabet deck, and a year subscription to the ChopChop Family Magazine. [ERV: $200])! Just be sure to use the hashtag, and tag @HelloBello and @ChopChopFamily. Good luck!


Always worried about getting my kiddos to eat and getting enough nutrients. Excited to use these helpful tips.

Chelsea on

I’m so excited for my baby to try real food but nervous about him getting the right nutrients in the right proportions!

Lauren on

These are sooooo adorable!! Hopeful that these would encourage my little one to try out different foods. Love this!!

Stephanne on

Love this blog! And the cards! So much fun! I find that making sure kids are participating in meal time, whether it’s helping prep, cooking, setting the table etc., gets them excited for meal time! For the little ones just transitioning over to more solid foods, sometimes just being able to eat dinner with all the big people AND eat what they are eating is enough to get them to try new and healthy things. THAT being said, WE need to make sure we are practicing what we preach and make sure we have healthy balance meals ourselves!

Katy on

Excited to try the new line! I always find if I put snacks out that my kids normally won’t eat at dinner like raw veggies they are more likely to eat them in the casual/no pressure environment.

Angela D on

We’ve involved our now 2 year old I’m the kitchen since day one. She helps prep ingredients whenever possible, we offer her a taste of everything we make so she gets exposed to a variety of foods and flavors, and she always eats with us. It’s very important to us that she doesn’t feel pressured around food, so foods she doesn’t respond to she is offered every 2 weeks but is never forced to eat in the moment. Now that she is 2, keeping food fun and nutritious and not repetitive is certainly becoming a challenge as she figures out what she likes to eat and not eat.

Ruthie Breen on

What if my toddler doesn’t want to take even a bite of dinner, saying she’s full? I don’t want to force her to eat but I also don’t want her to be hungry and feel she’s lying to get out of dinner to go play. The very few times we honor her wishes and agree to her skipping dinner, she wakes up very grumpy and hungry.

Pim on

I love the ideas in this blog! We have had great success with serving candy/dessert type items alongside healthier food options vs making dessert something “special”. Our daughter will nearly always eat a piece of the candy, and then pause and eat her vegetables or something else on her plate before going back to her candy. One of her favorite foods is Edamame (in the pod) with lemon juice and sea salt. She loves popping them out to eat!

Brittany V on

My 2 year old loves to throw the food she doesn’t want to eat onto the floor. It can be very frustrating (and messy). How do I stop this behavior?

Aryn Bailey on

I found it helpful to explain textures, colors and tastes of each food to help my kiddos get an idea of what it will be like if they’re not too happy about trying something!

Kaitlyn on

I struggle because my daughter was such a good eater early on and now she is very picky! I know it might be a phase so I just keep offering a variety of foods to her and go from there!

Christina on

I love how hello bello continues to help parents get the best products for their babies! As a first mom having these resources available to me, is a game changer!

Makayla on

I learned it takes a lot of exposure before kids will even accept an item on their plate. And to never force feed, let them eat and do what makes them feel comfortable!

Amanda Price on

My favorite way to encourage fresh veggie eating is to put them amongst a charcuterie plus it’s the easiest lazy dinner and I actually don’t mind the kids helping. Serving them in muffin tins is also a winner.

Bonnie on

I’ve found the best way to get my child to eat veggies are putting them in smoothies! Also I love the lentil pasta or pasta made of veggies too like zoodles (zucchini noodles).

Simone Garland on

This is great info! Curious do you know about how much vitamin D kids should be getting? Specifically 2yr olds.

T. Lyon on

My tip is to grow some of the veggies and fruits your family likes to eat. My kid was more willing to eat them because she was proud she grew what she was eating. It was a fun activity that we could do all growing season.

Lisa S on

Very thorough list!

Emily (Ross) Brewer on

This is great!! I try my best to offer the same foods we are eating to my baby to expose her to a wide range of options. However, I always have something on back up incase she refuses to eat it (picky toddler phase in full swing).

I also like to make sure she has a wide range of colors at each meal!

Katie Hahn on

Love the presentation idea! We have found that multiple exposures, without pressure to finish what they try, has been successful over time. I am also a fan of smoothies! It’s so easy to hide fruits and veggies that they wouldn’t normally eat!

Gabby on

Love this list!! We also don’t make a big deal about how much food they eat or force them to eat. We’ve learned that they will eat when they’re hungry and will do so more willingly when there’s no pressure. Oh, and always offer a safe food!!

Kelsi on

I guess on that note it would be cool to see any tips for mommas with babies who were in the nicu, had any challenges specifically around feedings like who have or struggle with oral aversions etc

Aisha Yaccino on

Any recommendations for quick, healthy, budget friendly meals/snacks?

Katie on

These tips are great! I have not had a whole lot of success with veggies so some of these tips I’ll definitely be trying. Fruits on the other hand, probably because they tend to be sweet, are no problem. My motto has always and will continue to be try and try again.

Lauren on

I have a 9 month old who is already eating solids (avocado, toast, rice, etc.). Now he is starting to want more fruits and when he does not want veges, I add a dot of fruit pure to get him to eat them. This allows him to get all the nutrition he needs.

Nilsa on

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