An ezpz Smile Makes New Foods Fun
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
One of the first things children recognize is faces, and usually they are drawn to a smiling face. That’s why the ezpz Mini Mat and Happy Mat can quickly capture your child’s attention at mealtime. These mats make new foods more fun and can help kids of all abilities meet feeding milestones.
Introducing and rotating new tastes and textures can encourage children to eat a variety of foods. Here are a few ideas to try out with your little one:
- Small Tastes: Use the small sections of the Mini Mat or Happy Mat (i.e., the eyes) to show children that new tastes aren’t scary if they come in a sample-size! Kids are smart, and they can see the difference between their favorite foods (in the larger compartment) and new tastes (in the smaller compartments). A small serving size can inspire them to try something new, and each acquired taste is one step closer to reaching their full eating potential. Use these conveniently sized sections to motivate your children to be a little more adventurous!
- New Textures: Try offering a teaspoon of a new condiment, a dollop of a new dip, or a bite of a new texture in the ezpz mat. Adding new textures to your child’s repertoire exposes them to new meal possibilities (and, perhaps, an assortment of cultural foods too!). The greater number of tastes and textures a child is exposed to, the more willing they are to eat a variety of foods as they grow up. Remember – early and often is the way to go!
Offering a balanced diet, fostering independence and building confidence when eating can help a child become a more adventurous eater. Try these tips at home with your ezpz products:
- Balance a Diet: Children require a balanced diet for proper development. The Mini Mat and Happy Mat support nutritious meals by reminding mom or dad to fill each eye and smile with a protein, starch, fruit or veggie. Offering a variety of food groups is also key to avoiding picky eating, mealtime meltdowns and outright food refusal. Encourage your little one to try something new by placing different food groups in the three compartments.
- Foster Independence: Allowing your kids to pick a new food or choose their condiment gives them ownership of the meal. So, let them choose the topping for the yogurt or the dip for their chicken. Choices help nurture independence and make a well-balanced meal more fun. Added bonus: achieving mealtime independence fosters positive feelings and connections with their food (and caregiver) that will last a lifetime.
- Build Confidence: The stable base of ezpz mats promotes self-feeding and improves the fine motor skills needed for eating. This can help a child that is working on the coordination of scooping, biting, chewing and swallowing – phew! The more successful children are at the table, the more confident they are in exploring different foods.
The happy face of the Mini Mat and Happy Mat remind us to be positive and kind, especially at mealtime.
- Table Time: Offering a touch of fun at mealtime can be as simple as eating from our smile mats. In fact, if your kids are having a little more fun at the table, they will stay longer, which increases the chance of them trying new tastes. So, celebrate the importance of table-time togetherness and bring a smile mat to your family mealtime!
- Kind Language: Positive words at the dinner table build trust and embolden kids to try unfamiliar foods. Our dialogue at mealtime will encourage (or discourage) a child to try something new. Use uplifting comments to support a nurturing feeding environment.
- Parental Smiles: ezpz’s mats also remind you (the caregiver) to smile when serving a kid’s meal, especially if you are offering challenging foods! It is totally understandable to feel frustrated if your child does not want to eat, but don’t let it show on your face. Fake it until you make it, right? You might be surprised how a simple smile can stimulate your child's interest in learning about new foods!
Kids really do eat with their eyes, so presenting foods on the Happy Mat or Mini Mat is sure to be a hit at mealtime. Which mat do you use at home with your littles? #ezpzfun
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 26 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning Tiny Cup & Tiny Spoon (for infants) and the Mini Cup + Straw Training System & Mini Utensils (for toddlers).