The key to getting kids to eat their greens is simple: start 'em young. And the younger the better.
Researchers at the University of Leeds found that small children were amenable to new vegetables until the age of two and became increasingly fond of foods the more they were offered.
They concluded that making children eat vegetables 'early and often' is the key to improving their diets in later life.
Writing in the journal PlosOne, Professor Marion Hetherington, of the Institute of Psychological Sciences at the University of Leeds, said: "For parents who wish to encourage healthy eating in their children, our research offers some valuable guidance.
"If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often. Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that 5-10 exposures will do the trick."
The researchers also found that even fussy eaters are able to eat a bit more of a new vegetable each time they are offered it.
In the study, the research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children from three countries aged from weaning age to 38 months.
During the experiment, each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of the artichoke puree in one of three versions: basic; sweetened, with added sugar; or added energy, where vegetable oil was mixed into the puree.
The researchers found the amount each child ate gradually increased as they became used to the food. Younger children consumed more artichoke than older children, they found.
They concluded: "This is because after 24 months children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked."