Happy Collection for Little Kids
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
Mealtime with toddlers and preschoolers can be challenging, even for the most experienced parent. But little kids will be more cooperative and excited about mealtime when new foods are fun! The ezpz Happy Collection can help make meals more enticing for your littles – and less stressful for you. Below I have outlined some important developmental milestones as well as feeding gear tips to set your preschooler up for success.
Happy Mat: The Happy Mat is ezpz's award-winning flagship product. It is an all-in-one placemat + plate that seals to the table, which means that it captures the mess and reduces tipped plates. Designed for kids 24 months and older, the Happy Mat can help toddlers / preschoolers obtain their feeding milestones with a smile!
- Pretend Play: During these years your little one likely engages in pretend and imaginative play. This is important for their emerging language, speech and social skills, plus their feeding and eating abilities! Toddlers feel more comfortable experimenting with new foods when meals are presented with some pretend play fun. Use the Happy Mat to quickly create a plate of yummy imagination. All you have to do is fill the top section of the mat with yogurt and two blueberries (for the eyes) and cut up a waffle (for the teeth). Voila! In less than 5 minutes you designed a breakfast that your toddler will be excited to eat.
- Biting: I work with a lot of toddlers that tear their food with their fingers or teeth because they can’t bite through their food. Being able to bite through a variety of food thicknesses is a feeding milestone that supports both independent eating and safe swallowing. The suction feature of the Happy Mat makes self-feeding less frustrating, so toddlers can practice eating a variety of food textures.
Happy Bowl: The ezpz Happy Bowl is an all-in-one placemat + bowl that seals to the surface, helping toddlers and preschoolers eat soup, pasta, oatmeal, salad, cereal and more. This 12-ounce bowl is great for achieving feeding independence, and it’s a perfect tool for sensory play too!
- Cause + Effect: Your toddler is at the age where they understand cause and effect. They are even learning that cooking together or creating food art can encourage them (and others) to try new foods! Get your kiddo in the kitchen by having them start with one kitchen duty. It could be filling up their Happy Bowl with cereal and choosing which fruit they will have with breakfast. Getting them involved with food choices and prep can be a game changer for decreasing picky eating tendencies.
- Pincer Grasp: It’s important for little kids to continue to practice and perfect their pincer grasp (using tips of index finger + thumb) throughout toddlerhood. Have your tot practice this grasp by holding, picking up or dipping foods or sensory play items (pom poms, miniature erasers, etc.) into the Happy Bowl.
Happy Utensils: The ezpz Happy Utensils include a toddler sized fork, spoon and training knife. These tools will help little ones meet their developmental milestones of scooping (with a spoon), piercing food (with a fork) and spreading and cutting (with a knife). The stable base of the Happy Mat or Happy Bowl promotes utensil use, as it stays in place and allows for effortless practice with a variety of textures.
- Knife Skills: Once you find that your toddler is proficient with a spoon and fork, then they are ready to tackle spreading purees (e.g., cream cheese, hummus or jelly) with a training knife. This skill typically occurs around their second birthday if they have had frequent exposure to utensils (spoons and forks) at mealtime.
- Finger Feeding: Even though your toddler is using utensils consistently, remember that they will continue to use their fingers to finger-feed. This is okay and developmentally appropriate.
Happy Cup + Straw System: The Happy Cup + Straw System is designed for older toddlers and preschoolers. This system includes a straw that has both a training straw side (with sensory bumps to help little ones learn to drink from a longer straw) and an advanced side (without sensory bumps). You can also take the lid off to use an 8oz open cup! It’s a 3-in-1 drinking system to enhance swallowing skills and meet open cup and straw cup milestones.
Open Cup Drinking: The Happy Cup is specifically designed for older toddler's / preschooler's oral cavity, facial structure and tongue placement. That is why the rim of the cup fits perfectly on the corners of your child’s mouth. The size and placement are critical for proper lip closure and safe swallowing.
Straw Cup Drinking: The Happy Straw improves lip rounding, which is an essential movement for drinking and swallowing, plus speech and language development.
We hope that you notice more willingness to try new foods at mealtime when using our Happy Line! #ezpzfun #happymat
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).