How to Introduce Pancakes to Babies + Toddlers
Breakfast can be a great time for exposing your kids to new textures and tastes. Share that morning sunshine with my delicious tips for preparing and serving pancakes to your baby or toddler.
Babies + Texture: It's critical to push your baby’s palate by offering different soft, moist and safe textures. You can easily accomplish this by taking it one food at a time, starting with yummy pancakes!
Babies + Shape: Serve pancakes in a stick shape (the length and thickness of your pinky finger) so your baby can easily grasp it. I have a collection of cookie cutters that are numbers and letters, and I like to use the 1, 7, I and L in order to achieve a long, safe shape. For older babies you can use a variety of cookie cutters in adorable shapes!
Babies + Munching: The shape of the pancake is important for establishing feeding skills. We want it to be stick-shaped so it can easily fit on your baby's gum line. This allows them to hold and munch (i.e., chew without teeth) successfully – an important swallowing and self-feeding skill!
Baby + Dips: You can easily change up the texture of a pancake by having your baby dip the pancake strip into a thick or lumpy puree. You can make a thick puree by placing a banana or avocado in the blender with breastmilk / formula. Babies also need to be exposed to lumpy purees. Start off with fork-mashed sweet potato or firmer lumps like cottage cheese.
- Skill-Dipping: Dipping a spoon or a piece of food into a puree is an important step for independent eating. Dipping usually begins around 9 months of age, but I’ve seen younger babies master this skill if they have the opportunity to practice it early and often! The First Foods Set provides you with tools to assist your baby with dipping!
Babies + Taste: If you think you should give your baby bland tasting food, think again! Babies need to consume a wide variety of tastes in order to become an adventurous eater. Pancakes are a great way to offer your baby a range of flavors!
- Organic Pancake Mix: I love the taste and texture of Happy Baby Organics Pancake & Waffle Mix, and I use it both at home and clinically with my pediatric feeding clients. If you are looking for an organic option (with some added iron for baby, too) look no further! It conveniently comes in an 8oz bag that is a perfectly sized for travel.
Toddlers + Texture: When offering foods to toddlers it’s important to slightly change the consistency in order to decrease food jags (+ naturally work on feeding skills). You can easily do this technique with pancakes.
Toddlers + Thinner Consistency: To make the pancake consistency thinner, add a little more water to the recipe.
- Skill-Biting: This thin texture can help a child learn how to hold + bite through a food rather than hold + rip it with their teeth. Teach them the skill of biting by having them bite off the edges of the pancake!
Toddlers + Thicker Consistency: To make the pancake consistency slightly thicker, add more mix to the batter.
- Skill-Bolus Formation: The thicker texture will encourage your child to work on bolus formation (chewing and making a ‘food ball’ to swallow) rather than pocketing the food.
Toddlers + Lumpy consistency: To make the pancake consistency lumpier, add cottage cheese or finely chopped nuts to the mix.
- Skill-Tongue Lateralization: The lumpy texture will help your child work on tongue lateralization (tongue moving side to side) while chewing.
Toddlers + Taste: No matter what you may read in the media, hiding foods (usually veggies or a protein) in a toddler’s meal can be a tragic mistake. In my feeding therapy practice, I see families struggling with trust issues at mealtime. This usually occurs when a toddler finds unfamiliar foods (usually a veggie or protein) hidden in their favorite food, and then refuses to eat anything homemade. Avoid losing your child’s trust and jeopardizing their relationship with food by including them in the mealtime process!
- Control + Choice: Give your toddler control at breakfast by giving them a choice between adding a tiny amount of a veggie or a protein into the pancakes. As an example, “Shall we add one scoop of sweet potato or cottage cheese to our pancake mix?” When you first start this technique, have them ‘scoop’ in a half of a teaspoon into the batter. Over time and as your child becomes more comfortable, try making the scoop a full teaspoon, then a tablespoon, then an ounce. These small steps will turn into big successes in the tasting (and eating) department. And your toddler will trust you at mealtime and learn to trust (and enjoy) new foods too!
I hope my pancake tips can help make your breakfast a bit more cheerful! Let us know which tips you use and send us your pancake pics using the hashtag #ezpzfun.
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.