We all know it can be difficult getting children to eat their vegetables. While children will happily munch away on sweets and fatty foods, the prospect of vegetables are met with a toddler-sized earthquake of resistance. The more you offer the broccoli, the more they shake their heads “no”.
So what if there was a way to get children curious about vegetables?
Researchers found that exposing children to vegetables through picture books help children eat more vegetables. The title of the study says it all: “Let's look at leeks! Picture books increase toddlers' willingness to look at, taste and consume unfamiliar vegetables”. The study was conducted in the U.K by Dr. Philippa Heath and Dr. Carmel Houston-Price. They found that toddlers were more willing to taste a new vegetable if they read a children’s book about it first. Not convinced? Here are the details.
A sample of 150 2-year-olds and their parents were provided with a book about a vegetable (we’ll use leeks as an example) to read for 5 minutes a day. After two weeks, the children were split into groups.
Group 1: This group of toddlers had tried leeks before. They were familiar with the vegetable in the picture book.
Group 2: This group of toddlers had never seen leeks before. They were introduced to leeks through the picture book.
Then they were invited to the lab to try some vegetables. They were asked the following question: “Here are two vegetables. Which would you like to eat?”
The researchers found that children in Group 2, who had never tried leeks before and were introduced to them by the picture book, were more likely to try and eat more leeks.
Anyone who is in charge of feeding a little one knows that this is good news. So here are some practical tips we can take away from this exciting finding.
Consider picking up a children's book of an otherwise unpopular vegetable next time you're looking for a gift. If you get any weird looks from other parents, or questions of "do you really think she's going to want to read about arugula?", just casually whip out this study (link here). They'll appreciate it when their kid has a mouth full of arugula.
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