With the holidays just around the corner, snack time and all things FOOD will be in our children’s faces every day. If your child is a picky eater, have no fear, you don’t need to dread meal times! There is a better way. 🙂
But how… that is always the question! How do we go about this to make food fun?
It begins with our approach to meal times, which begins with what we are doing OUTSIDE of meals and our approach to food. My favorite? SNACK TIME!
Snack time is usually laid back and flexible, making it the perfect opportunity to introduce new foods and work on oral motor skills.
There are SO many options to make snack time not only enjoyable but also a FUN learning experience that can lead to our children trying and even liking MANY different types and textures of food! It starts with YOUR mindset. Realize this is about your child, not you. That takes a ton of pressure off, doesn’t it? You are not a bad parent for allowing them to explore foods, allowing them to not eat all of their food, allowing them to be their unique person, while encouraging them to try new things. In the words of Daniel Tiger, “try new things and it might taste good!”
Here are a few tried and true steps to ensure your child will begin exploring more foods in a fun and manageable way!
- Snack time should be low key and fun. No stress for your child.
- Do not force them to eat any foods during snack time. Remember, this is meant to be FUN and STRESS FREE.
- Pick ONE familiar food and ONE unfamiliar or unloved food item.
- Have a mirror so that the child can see themselves, can pick up foods and see it in the mirror, watch themselves chewing, etc. Most children will enjoy this and it can act as the ultimate motivator.
- Use toothpicks or other fun utensils to pick up new foods. Not only are you working on fine motor skills you are also making this a fun and engaging experience for them.
- Encourage a sensory experience with food, let them play with it or explore it (put down a shower curtain or mats to make clean up easier on you but allow them to get messy! Kids thrive with this type of experience! One example is to put fruit or other foods in yogurt and let them explore it with their hands!)
- Make it a game! Play make believe, imagine you are going on a trip to a magical island and you will be exploring never before discovered FOODS and NAMING them for the first time! Let me come up with whatever name they want. Have a variety of foods for them to “name!”
- Start with a hierarchy of exploring the unloved/unliked food item. First, have them look at it. After they become experts at looking at foods they do not like, have them touch it (avoid the trap of moving too fast! Do this as many times as they need to feel comfortable and safe.) Next, you may ask them to pick it up and put it back down on their plate or put it in another container. The next step is to touch the food item to their lips and then place it in a different place on their plate or a separate bowl (this can help their nervous system, to separate it and know that they are done with that piece of food for this snack time). Afterall, we aren’t pushing them to try it before they are ready, this should be a “safe” place for them to explore!
Here are some FUN options to add to your snack time routine:
- Umbrella toothpicks: https://amzn.to/46DFkUu
- Plastic Sword Picks: https://amzn.to/3PZaD5c
- Kid Fruit Forks: https://amzn.to/408fYMm
- Animal Picks: https://a.co/d/0V5rp5U
To make snack times even more fun, we are including a snack time mat and a food exploration mat! You can click here to download in PDF format.
May snack time be the most rewarding experience for you and your child.