How to Use the Micro Mat to Help Picky Eaters
The media, our customers and our readers are familiar with our flagship product, the Happy Mat. But have you seen or used our Micro Mat with your kids? Lindsey, our founder, was giving away these adorable tiny mats at trade shows and conferences so parents could understand the sensory properties of the Happy Mat. I grabbed a few of these gems and started using them with my feeding therapy clients. They made a HUGE difference with my kiddos willingness to try new foods! Here are five ways to use the Micro Mat in feeding therapy:
Micro Mat for New Foods: I place the Mini Mat on the side of the Happy Mat with a few tiny morsels of foods for the toddler to try. Think micro bites, not handfuls (e.g., ONE sunflower seed, ONE new taste of a condiment, ONE nibble of meat, etc.). Make sure to place the Micro Mat on your child’s dominant side so that each time they reach for food with their dominant hand, they are seeing the Micro Mat. Here we have pictured a blue Micro Mat on a gray Happy Mat with two raisins and three pomegranate seeds.
Micro Mat for Mommy: Research shows that children are more willing to try new foods if their parents are eating these foods as well. Place a Micro Mat in front of you and explore new foods together as a family (in miniscule mouthfuls!). Kids crack up seeing adults eating out of this cute little plate, so get ready for laughter at lunchtime!
Micro Mat for Miniature Friends: Does your child like to eat with their favorite superhero, doll or stuffed animal at mealtime? Our ultimate feeding goal is to have children eat at the table without the need for toys, dolls or iPads. But, as you work toward that feeding goal, you can put a Micro Mat in front of their stuffed friend and have them pretend to enjoy new foods with your toddler. Slowly move the stuffed animal (and their Micro Mat) away from the table – a few centimeters at a time. Slow and steady wins the picky-eating race!
Micro Mat for Therapeutic Snack Time: Feeding therapists use therapeutic snack time as an occasion to work on a feeding goal or introduce a new food. We teach parents to use this technique at home so 1) kids can explore new foods in a less stressful way and 2) to ensure that a child does not go hungry if they get too anxious with new food introduction during mealtime. Because of its small size, the use of the Micro Mat during therapeutic snack time visually shows kids that they can try a microscopic bite of a new food and move on with the rest of their day. We have gotten a lot of positive parent and therapist feedback using the Micro Mat with this approach!
Micro Mat as a Sensory Fidget: A sensory fidget is a small toy that can be used to relax and calm children, promote focus and concentration, strengthen fingers and decrease anxiety. Teachers use them in their classroom to improve attention; occupational therapists use them to strengthen fingers before handwriting tasks; and feeding therapists use them to decrease anxiety about trying new foods or textures. For therapists and teachers, a good fidget is easy to clean and discreet. The Micro Mat fits that bill as it can be cleaned in the dishwasher, hand washed or wiped clean with a baby wipe. It is also quiet, unlike a lot of fidgets, which are loud and disruptive to classrooms, households and mealtimes.
We sell Micro Mats on our website with the hope that you, too, will find feeding success with our mighty Micro Mat! We would love to hear how you use this amazing feeding tool at mealtime. Make sure to tag us @ezpzfun and use the hashtags #micromat #ezpzfun #myezpzmat so we can share your pictures and tips!
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.