“Imprint” healthy tastes. “If you only expose your baby to healthy, whole foods from the beginning, taste buds will develop to enjoy and crave those foods,” says Robert Sears, MD. Bland, processed foods such as baby crackers offer empty calories and can dull taste buds, he says.

Try, try again. If it’s not love at first bite, don’t despair, counsels Alan Greene, MD, author of Feeding Baby Green (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Offer a wide variety of vegetables and fruits and introduce each one at least 16 times. (Tip: Keep a checklist.)

Follow the one-bite rule. When kids know they only need to try (not finish) new foods, peace reigns at the dinner table, says Greene.

Presentation is everything. If your child doesn’t like a cooked vegetable, try it raw. Grate it, peel it, finely chop it. Add sesame oil, curry spice, cinnamon, a splash of tamari, or nut-butter sauce.

Dip it. Veggies are more fun when dunked. Make your own ranch dressing with protein-rich low-fat Greek yogurt, suggests smartfoodshealthykids.com founder Kelly Corbet.

Give your child the chef’s hat. Empowerment equals enthusiasm. Plus, learning to prepare healthy food is an invaluable lifelong skill, says Daina Kalnins, RD, clinical dietician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and coauthor of Better Food for Kids (Robert Rose, 2010).