The Happy Mat + Child Development
By Dawn Winkelmann, M.S, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist for ezpz
It’s important for parents to understand child development so they can choose toys, games and feeding products wisely. The early years of a child’s life are filled with learning new skills and meeting milestones such as feeding and swallowing. I’ve highlighted five development areas and how the Happy Mat can improve child development.
Physical Development: Learning how to eat requires both fine and gross motor movements. The Happy Mat’s suction function helps with proper positioning for feeding since it is easy for a child to hold on to and remain stable. After the child has stability they can become a successful utensil eater by using the flexible rim of the Happy Mat to scoop and spear foods with a spoon or fork. In addition, The Happy Mat’s whimsy design is cute and entertaining and makes for instant food art. This keeps kids at the table longer to work on those fine and gross motor skills needed for safe eating. Score!
Cognitive Development: The engaging smiley face of the Happy Mat keeps children calm and decreases mealtime anxiety. It also encourages food curiosity and exploration at mealtime. The edges of the Happy Mat are a great place to introduce new foods to a hesitant eater. They also are a great space for kids to draw on using dry erase markers! Building trust and improving cognition through food play is essential if we want our kids to be adventurous eaters.
Sensory Development: Some children struggle with sensory input at mealtime or may have an underdeveloped sensory system. Since the Happy Mat suctions directly to the table, it makes it nearly impossible for tiny hands with poor sensory awareness to tip over the plate. The mat also provides a sensory boundary of a child’s eating space, making the act of eating less frustrating and more enjoyable. Sensory processing issues are a common factor in picky eating, which is why kids are drawn to the soft, smooth and silent sensory properties of silicone compared to hard, grainy and loud metal or plastic dishware. Use the Happy Mat to help improve your child’s emerging sensory skills!
Social and Emotional Development: The Happy Mat gives kids their own ‘space’ at mealtime, which decreases behaviors and improves social skills. It also captures most of the mealtime mess, making self-feeding less stressful for both the kids and their parents! The mat is so colorful and fun that it can turn mealtime into a ‘happy’ occasion instead of a battleground. Lastly, the three compartments of the Happy Mat make it easy for kids to help in the kitchen and learn food preparation, portion sizes and nutritional allocation, which fosters positive emotional development and body image.
Communication Development: Over 7% of children in the United States have a communication or swallowing disorder. The Happy Mat promotes proper head-positioning (since the mat stays in place) for a safer swallow so that kids can continue to communicate at mealtime with a reduced risk of choking. In addition, the visual attraction of the Happy Mat (especially when combined with some easy food art) helps wean kids from watching TV or an iPad during mealtime so they can communicate with their family instead!
Did the Happy Mat help your child become successful eater? How has the patented suction technology helped your child’s physical development during mealtime? #ezpzfun #happymat #developmentalmilestones
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).