use dips to support your picky eater

Using Dips with Picky (and Accepting!) Eaters

Using Dips with Picky (and Accepting!) Eaters

Did you know that using dips can be an effective - and versatile - tool for encouraging your picky eater? It's true. Frequently used by feeding therapists, dips and dippers (both the foods used to dip and well as dipping utensils) support picky eaters who are reluctant to try new foods.

Things like ketchup and Nutella are obvious choices (for obvious reasons), but there are almost endless options for dressing up meals using sauces and dips that can tempt even the pickiest eater to give something new a try.

How Sauces & Dips Help

  • Pairing a familiar dip with an unfamiliar food can help your reluctant taster feel more comfortable giving a new food a try. A bit of your child's favorite hummus, for example, may encourage her to taste those unfamiliar snap peas (even if only because they make a great scoop for the hummus).
  • Dips provide a different kind of sensory experience during mealtime. We want our kids. Dips instantly offer new textures, colors, smells, and tastes so that your little one becomes more comfortable touching lots of textures and seeing a variety of colors. This, in turn, will help your kids eventually become more adventurous eaters. 
  • Dips lend to messy play for young children, which is an important sensory process in learning to tolerate food on their skin and eventually in their mouth.
  • Sauces and dips can help you chain from one food to another. For kids who don't like marina sauce but will eat ketchup, as an example, offer ketchup, then tomato soup, then eventually marinara for dipping roasted sweet potatoes. Eventually, you may find that marinara sauce can make its way onto your little one's pasta.

Focus on Flavor

Because your child's taste buds (and, equally importantly, olfactory senses) are still developing during the toddler years, and because evolutionarily our kids have been primed for finding - and loving - sweet tastes, serving vegetables with a slightly sweeter dip can help take the bitter edge off. Both sweet and strong tastes can be helpful in encouraging picky eaters. 
(PS - If you're worried about too much sugar or want to avoid serving too many processed foods, look for DIY versions of your favorite dips or limit the amount served)
Sweet Tastes: Ranch, French, or Thousand Island Dressing, Ketchup, Honey, Maple Syrup, Jelly, Honey Mustard, Yogurt, Marshmallow Fluff, Caramel Sauce, Chocolate Sauce, Applesauce, Nutella (Chocolate-Hazelnut) Spread.
Strong Tastes: BBQ Sauce (some), Pesto, Wasabi Mayonnaise, Buffalo Sauce, Salsa, Tabasco, Jalapeno Juice, Pickle Juice, Spaghetti Sauce.

Consider Your Texture

Texture can often be a limiting factor in kids' willingness to try something new. My son does not like uniformly smooth foods, so it wasn't until I left larger chunks of avocado that he was willing to try (and finally enjoyed) guacamole. Start with textures that your toddler is comfortable with, and slowly expand from there. The Kizingo Nudge Bowl and Plate make serving dips easy-peasy: the specially designed nudge section of the bowl can easily be filled with a new dip or sauce. 
Thicker Textures: Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Hummus, Guacamole, Alfredo Sauce, Mayonnaise, Tarter Sauce, Cheese Sauce, Nutella, Apple Butter, Peanut, Almond, or Cashew Butter, Blue Cheese Dressing, Bean Dip.
Thinner Textures: Soy Sauce, Lemon or Lime Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Mustard, Melted Butter.
use dips to encourage picky eaters

Tips for Choosing a Dipper

A "dipper" can be anything your child can easily hold including a food or kitchen utensil, and your choice of which to use may depend on whether your goal is for them to explore the dip itself, or to expand their willingness to taste the dipper. For younger children, you want to make sure the food is match-stick shape and roughly the size of your finger (for safety reasons). For older children, the options are virtually endless. But here are some ideas to get you started:
Carbohydrates: Crackers, Chips, French Toast Sticks, Rice Cakes, Pancakes, Waffles
Fruits: Apple, Cantaloupe or Honeydew, Cucumber, Dragon Fruit, Jicama, Mango, Watermelon
Proteins:  Cheese Sticks, Chicken Strips, Fish Sticks, Meat Sticks,
Vegetables: Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Green Beans, Kohlrabi, Snap or Snow Peas, Potato or Sweet potato
Utensils: Using an early utensil allows an infant to practice learning how to eat independently. Mixing "food dippers" with "utensil dippers" will also help them practice adapting their mouth into different shapes, which is an important developmental milestone.  
Remember: practice makes progress. So if your first choice of dip doesn't work DON'T WORRY! Just keep trying until you find one that works. Healthy eating is a lifelong habit ... it takes time. And you've got this! #whykizingo #kizingokids