Adapted Butter Boards for Baby
Butter boards are all the rage. But can you adapt this trend to make it healthy and developmentally appropriate for your baby? Yes! Here are a few ideas that can provide some critical sensory experience for your baby and spark some joy, too!
What are butter boards? If you are not familiar with butter boards, they are a high calorie snacking tray that is usually made for a get together or party. Butter boards are cutting boards with room temperature butter spread across the board. These boards can tempt our taste buds with sweet, salty or savory toppers, plus additional sauces or spreads. Loaves of bread, nuts, dried fruits, chocolates, cured meats and other edible treats are placed on the board to dip and scoop the butter. Sounds yummy for us, but most of these foods are not safe for babies.
How can I adapt butter boards to be safe for baby? Here are a few ideas on how to adapt butter boards to make them safe and appropriate for baby.
- Swap the Butter for a Puree: Switch out the butter and try a vibrant puree such as hummus, sweet potato or a food pouch. To offer depth and texture (like adult butter boards) add colorful seasonings. Sprinkle some turmeric, paprika, cinnamon or chili powder for flavor and warmth.
- Swap the Cutting Board for a Placemat: Unless you want a cutting board tossed across your kitchen, try the ezpz Tiny Placemat. The Tiny Placemat is a non-slip mat that fits on most highchair trays (making it hard for baby to throw). It also provides the perfect surface for butter boards, as it’s made from food grade, soft silicone. Use a butter knife or silicone spatula to spread the puree on the mat.
- Swap High Risk Choking Foods with Safe Baby-Led Foods: You can cut soft sticks of fruits, veggies, shredded meat or lightly toasted bread and display them on the Tiny Placemat. Use a crinkle cutter on the edges of the food to make grabbing effortless. I also like to offer the slices of each food slightly stacked (see hummus, bread + cucumber image). Stacking makes these finger foods easy for baby to grasp independently.
- Swap the Treats with Potentially Allergenic Foods: If you are nervous about offering potentially allergenic foods, butter boards can be a novel way to make it less intimidating. The most common allergenic foods in the United States are milk, peanuts, fish, tree nuts, egg, wheat, shellfish, soy and sesame. Most of these foods are perfect for butter boards! For example, you can spread some yogurt, sprinkle a little cinnamon and then offer squished raspberries to look like flowers. Ta-da! Offering dairy is less frightening… and more fun!
What about the mess? Babies explore their senses and foster brain maturation through sensory food play. Healthy butter boards can help your little one expand their sensory skills at mealtime and give them an early love for food! Here are a few sensory tips to focus on as well as some products to help manage the mess.
- Sensory Milestones: Offer a food on your butter board that stimulates your baby’s five senses (visual, hearing, smell, touch, taste). A great example is homemade applesauce. It looks appealing, makes a ‘wet slapping’ sound when baby explores it, has a beautiful fragrance, is fun to touch, and has a delicious, sweet taste. Expert Tip: You can make homemade applesauce by blending cooked apples in your food processor for a few minutes.
- Splash Mat: The BapronBaby Splash Mat is a mat made of waterproof fabric that can be placed under your baby’s highchair. The Splash Mat is stain-resistant, antimicrobial and machine washable. It weighs less than 8oz and folds up to the size of a small book. This makes food play cleanup simple and fast!
- Safe Bib: The BapronBaby Bapron is a bib-apron hybrid that ties around your baby’s body rather than the neck for a safer and more comfortable fit. It’s perfect for both mealtime and sensory play!
I hope this blog inspires you to try an adapted butter board with your baby. If you try it, be sure to tag us in your sensory play food activities with the hashtags #ezpzfun #myezpzmat.
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.