Do you kids turn their little noses up at the sight of greens? Find out how to get your kids to eat healthy foods…

If you’re struggling to get your toddler to eat broccoli and your pre-schooler is rolling the peas under the table, just keep offering it to them.

As frustrating as it seems, persistence in exposing babies and young children to healthy foods (even when they don’t like them) is key to promoting healthy eating behaviours.

This is according to a review of 40 studies on how infants and young children develop healthy food preferences.

After going through all the studies, researchers found the following:

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1. A child’s health appetite starts in the womb

“Flavours of mom’s diet reach the child in utero, so if she’s eating a healthy diet, the foetus does get exposed to those flavours, getting the child used to them,” says lead author Stephanie Anzman-Frasca, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Paediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

2. Mom’s diet while breastfeeding matters

After birth, the baby benefits from exposure to flavours from her healthy diet through the breast milk.

These early exposures familiarise the baby with specific flavours as well as the experience of variety and set the stage for later acceptance of healthy flavours in solid foods.

Related: How to get kids to eat vegetables

3. Serve healthy foods and repeat

As for young children, repeatedly exposing them to healthy foods that they previously rejected can help them to accept and like the food.

“This method of simply repeating the child’s exposure to healthy foods has a robust evidence base behind it,” Anzman-Frasca says. “There are many studies with pre-schoolers who start out not liking red peppers or squash, for example, but after five to six sessions where these foods are repeatedly offered, they end up liking them.”

“Overall, based on all the studies we reviewed, our strongest recommendation to parents and caregivers is ‘don’t give up!”

Source: University at Buffalo via

Related: Childhood obesity: A wake-up call for parents