Sometimes parents tell me that their child is a ‘genius’ because they have figured out how to pull up the ezpz mat. They are concerned because they want their child to gain the sensory and developmental benefits from eating out of our products (and not to mention less mess!). Here are some tips for parents and therapists to try to remedy this situation and help their Einstein eat their fruits + veggies! If this has happened to you, I recommend the following:
Waiting: As we all know, kids imitate what we do. So, when we clean up after mealtime and peel the edge of the ezpz mat (to throw it in the dishwasher) we have just modeled a magic trick that kids HAVE to replicate! Here’s what you can do:
- Wait a few meals and then reintroduce the ezpz mat. Fingers crossed they don’t remember how to peel it off!
- Clean up other parts of the meal and leave your child’s ezpz plate or bowl for the end of your cleanup routine.
Writing + Drawing: I like to use dry erase markers, crayons or chalk to decorate the mat and distract kiddos from peeling it up (yes, it comes off in the dishwasher). Use the extra space the silicone placemat provides to write a child’s name, draw a cute happy face or sketch their favorite cartoon character. I love using this technique in feeding therapy and kids adore having their mat decorated especially for them. As a bonus, the kids have fun erasing my drawings with their napkin at the end of the meal and drawing their own. Score!
Favorite Foods: I also like to decorate the sides of the mat with a child’s favorite food. This can divert them from peeling and, instead, encourage eating! Does your kiddo love French fries? Place them on the sides of the mat (like we pictured here) instead of putting them in the plate sections of the Happy Mat or Mini Mat.
Cookie Cutters: Another quick trick for stopping those tiny hands from peeling the mat is placing food art on the edges.
- I use cookie cutters to make veggies more appealing, fun and accessible. This either keeps kids away from the edges because they don’t like that veggie or they give it a try! Either way, they are not peeling up the mat.
- Cookie cutters also allow you to cut up and serve a smaller sweet treat on the edge of the mat without all the sugar of a full serving. If your child loves fig newtons, for example, use a small, heart-shaped cookie cutter to create a micro bite.
- You can get additional inspiration and tips on making kid-approved food with cookie cutters from our book, Making Mealtime ezpz: Fun Ways to Fill the Happy Mat.
What are some ways you keep your genius from peeling up their ezpz mat? We would love to hear your tips! Comment below or send us pics using 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.