Using Dips with Picky Eaters
Dips and dippers are important tools in feeding development, especially if your child has finicky tendencies towards trying new foods. Dipping may also help reduce picky eating and encourage kids to be more adventurous! Here are some ‘dip tips’ from a seasoned feeding therapist.
Tips for Picking a Dip: Using a dip to help empower a child to make choices at mealtime is one of my favorite feeding therapy strategies. Parents often tell me that my dip technique won’t work for them because their child will only eat one dip (usually ketchup or ranch dressing). But I find that even when I have only one dip to work with I can expand their food repertoire with that dip. Additionally, I usually can find another sauce with a similar taste to the one they love. For example, if a child likes the sweet taste of ketchup, then a sweet teriyaki sauce is a great sauce to introduce. Once the child approves of this yummy new taste, we can introduce a variety of new foods like teriyaki chicken, veggies, rice bowls and more!
- Vegan + Gluten Free: Some of my favorite vegan-friendly and gluten-free sauces are from Sweet Tot. And, yes, they have a great tasting ketchup and teriyaki sauce to please your picky eater!
- Dip Theme: Giving the dip a name or having a dip ‘theme’ makes it more interesting for children and encourages them to be more adventurous. Get your kids in the kitchen to try my unicorn-themed Unicorn Fruit Dip and watch the fruit magically disappear!
Tips for Picking a Dip Taste: Taste buds are developing during the toddler years, so veggies tend to taste bitter during this time. Having an option to dunk veggies into a dressing, dip or condiment will help them learn about new flavors. Dips can help disguise the taste of certain foods, which can help diversify your child’s food preferences while their taste buds are evolving. Here is a list of tastes that have been most successful in feeding therapy, especially for my kiddos with sensory feeding issues. Some may surprise you!
- Sweet Tastes: Jelly, Thousand Island dressing, Honey Mustard, Maple Syrup, Pudding, Yogurt, Marshmallow Fluff, Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sauce, Applesauce, Honey
- Strong Tastes: Wasabi Mayonnaise, Buffalo Sauce, Salsa, Tabasco, Spicy BBQ Sauce, Jalapeno Juice, Pickle Juice, Spaghetti Sauce, Pesto Sauce
Tips for Picking a Dip Texture: Let’s face it; kids will eat more if we provide them with a fun dipping station. I use the ezpz Play Mat and the Mini Play Mat to introduce a new sauce. I fill the petal compartments with some of the child’s favorite foods and put the novel dip in the center. Here are a few texture ideas to consider trying with your kids.
- Thick Textures: Hummus, Guacamole, Alfredo Sauce, Sour Cream, Mayonnaise, Cream Cheese, Tarter Sauce, Cheese Sauce, Nutella, Apple Butter, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Blue Cheese Dressing, Bean Dip
- Thin Textures: Soy Sauce, Lime Juice, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Mustard, Melted Butter
Tips for Picking a Dipper: A ‘dipper’ can be a piece of solid food (e.g., vegetables, crackers, fruit slices) or kitchen utensils (e.g., Tiny Spoon, coffee stirrers or small spatulas) to dab into dips or tastes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Fruits: Mango, Jicama, Dragon Fruit, Watermelon, Kiwi, Cucumber, Cantaloupe, Honeydew
- Proteins: Beef Jerky, Fish Sticks, Chicken Strips, Meat Sticks, Hot Dogs, Cheese Sticks
- Vegetables: Celery, Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Snap Peas, Lettuce, Sweet potato, Green Beans
- Carbohydrates: Rice Cakes, Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast Sticks, Crackers, Chips, Cookies
- Utensils: Using an early utensil (like the Tiny Spoon) allows an infant to practice learning how to eat independently. It also allows them to practice adapting their mouth into different shapes so they can eventually try more challenging foods and tastes.
I hope these tips help you introduce a variety of dip tastes and textures with your kids! Don’t feel discouraged if it takes a few rotations to find a dip your child likes. Just keep trying until you find one that pleases your child’s palate. What are some of your family favorite dips and dippers? #ezpzfun #dips #tinyspoon
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.