Emojis Help Introduce New Foods
Emojis are used every day as a digital way to communicate how we are feeling with others. Emojis have become so common in our culture, in fact, that even children are aware of the emotions they represent. I like to use a happy emoji to help introduce babies, toddlers and school-age kids to new foods!
Emojis for Babies + Toddlers: Did you know that if you present a new food with a smile on your face, your kids are more likely to eat it? We can take that a step further by serving our children’s food ON a smiley face. The ezpz Mini Mat is a placemat + plate that is a happy smile emoji! Here are some ezpz tips to get you started:
- Purees: Fill up the eyes of the Mini Mat (2oz compartments) with puree foods like applesauce, hummus or yogurt. Then place a blueberry (halved) into each section. This quickly makes mealtime happier (and eye-catching).
- Spears: Place a spear of food in the mouth section of the Mini Mat (4oz compartment) to look like a smile, frown or smirk.
Emojis for Kids: As a feeding specialist, I find that the easiest way to introduce new foods to a picky eater is to use food art. Finicky kids tend to refuse healthy looking foods, but it’s harder to turn down food that looks fun (even if it's veggies). My food art technique uses the ezpz Happy Mat, and it is a great way to teach hesitant eaters to feel safe around new foods. The Happy Mat has three compartments just like the Mini Mat, but they contain larger portion sizes (4oz, 4oz, and 10oz, respectively). Here are some food strategies:
- Body Parts: Add ears, teeth, hair, hands and more to make the Happy Mat emoji face come to life!
- Cookie Cutters: Use cookie cutters to make stars or hearts in the Happy Mat’s eyes, just like the ‘star struck’ and ‘heart eyes’ emojis. Your kids will love making their favorite faces with food!
- Emoji Emails: I have the parents and kids that I work with in feeding therapy email me each week with the new food they tried, plus an emoji of what they thought of the food. Sometimes I get the ‘yum’ emoji, other times I get the ‘vomiting’ emoji. No matter which emoji I receive, we all celebrate the success of trying a new food! One child’s feedback from using this feeding technique is so eloquent, “I keep trying it (a new food) until I can send Ms. Dawn a ‘thumbs up’ emoji.” Having children choose an emoji to represent their eating experience can be so powerful!
Emoji Inspiration: Food art can be a fun way to get kids to feel curious about something novel, which is the first step to eating it! Turn a basic lunch into a fun emoji and you have a child finally interested in mealtime! Try using the book Making Mealtime ezpz: Fun Ways to Fill the Happy Mat for some 5-minute food art inspiration to get you started.
- Grocery List: The book includes an ezpz grocery list with mealtime ideas for quick emoji food art.
- Encouraging Expressions: The book includes some of my tips for both nonverbal and verbal expressions to encourage picky eaters to try a new food.
- What You Need: For each food emoji pictured, there are directions that tell you what you need in order to recreate the meal at home with your kids and your Happy Mat.
I hope these ideas will inspire you to try emoji food art with your littles! If you follow us on social, you’ll see that our community loves to use our products to make food art for their children. Tag us with your mealtime creations! #myezpzmat #ezpzfun #WorldEmojiDay
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.