4 Ways to Get Kids Eating Veggies Early & Often

Baby eating veggie-forward product Babies aren’t born liking veggies, but little ones can learn to love vegetables through early and often exposure to carrots, green beans, broccoli, peas, squash, artichokes, and more!

This National Nutrition Month, Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is paving the way for parents and caregivers to serve veggies kids will eat and enjoy.

Keep reading to discover:

  • Why vegetables are so important to children’s diets
  • Simple tips for teaching kids to eat—and love!—veggies

Why Veggies Matter

Most of us have been taught that nutrient-rich foods help keep our bodies healthy as we age. In fact, veggie-forward diets play a powerful role in preventing chronic diseases and maintaining a healthy body weight throughout our lives—and learning to eat and enjoy vegetables starts in early childhood.

This means parents and caregivers need to train young eaters’ taste buds to appreciate vegetable flavors by introducing them to veggies early and often.

Here are a few facts to keep in mind:

  • Only 10% of children eat the daily recommended amount of veggies. ✅ You can break that trend!
  • The infant and toddler stage (4-24 months) is the best time to establish healthy taste preferences and eating habits. ✅ Start while they’re small!
  • A baby’s eating patterns will accompany them into childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. ✅ Form healthy habits now!

Explore the science behind veggies for toddlers and infants.

Here’s where to get started:

#1: Find “Veggie-Forward” Foods

Most food brands use fruit to mask the taste of veggies for toddlers and babies, keeping kiddos from experiencing the diverse flavors they need to develop their tiny taste buds.

VEO Icon Vertical Square PHA wanted to make it easy for parents and caregivers to identify “veggie-forward” foods, so we created the Veggies Early & Often icon.

When you see the VEO icon on packaging or menus, you’ll know the product meets our stringent nutritional criteria for Veggies Early & Often:

  • VEO food contains over 50% vegetables by weight
  • VEO food is free from additives

#2: Start “Flavor Training” at 4-6 Months

As early as 4 months old, babies can begin “flavor training”—tasting tiny amounts of various pureed vegetables from a caregiver’s clean finger or a teaspoon. Flavor training doesn’t replace human milk or infant formula; it’s simply a way to introduce veggie flavors and ease the transition to more diverse foods as a child grows.

#3: Serve Veggies Every Day

Because 4 to 24-month-old children have to learn to like vegetables, parents and caregivers should serve veggies at least once every day.

Don’t be deterred if, at first, you can’t find any veggies kids will eat. Studies indicate that even picky kiddos are more likely to eat a veggie (or multi-veggie food) once they’ve tasted it 10+ times. One or two mouthfuls at each meal can turn their “yuck” into a “yum!”

The best part? Kids who repeatedly taste even one veggie may be more likely to enjoy new, different vegetables in the future!

#4: Eat Well—Together

In families who share most meals around the table, kids are more likely to eat their veggies. Family mealtimes are especially beneficial when little ones see big kids and grown-ups eating vegetables and other whole, healthy foods.

Around the table, parents and caregivers can easily introduce new vegetable flavors and textures to youngsters. The more frequently small eaters experience diverse foods, the more likely they’ll be to try and choose new, nutrient-rich options as they grow.

Build a Better Food Future

Here at PHA, we’re rallying food industry leaders, health professionals, and early childhood education specialists to build a better food future and grow a generation of veggie lovers.

In 2024, we’re committed to adding 1 million servings of vegetables through veggie-forward products. Together, we can harness the power of Veggies Early & Often and ensure a bright future full of nutritious food choices for adventurous eaters.

To learn more about our Veggies Early & Often campaign, visit

Our Work In Motion