Dip Dip Dip!

The 80’s called and we invited them to (breakfast, lunch and) dinner….   Although I’m a fan of the 80’s shoulder pad, I know they aren’t for everyone. The party dip was also a big hit in the 80’s and I’m here to convince you to bring this one back!   Offering dips sounds uninspiring, but there’s a lot of bang for buck in it, for all ages! Dips can encourage: –       Food exploration –       Food enjoyment –       Tastes of new foods –       Fine motor skills that help with manipulating utensils  –       Adding new foods with different textures to their accepted food list   You can start with a spoon and show your little one how, as you dip their spoon repetitively into the dip, playfully say, “Dip, dip, dip”. Repeat a few times and then offer them the spoon or place it in front of them. Grab your own dip and spoon and model it for them. Remember to be responsive and watch for what they are communicating, if they aren’t keen to give it a go, you can offer the opportunity again the next day.   Start with a familiar dip that your little one eats. Slow, thoughtful steps are key. This may be yogurt or even a puree. You can mix it up from using the spoon as a dipper, to using food as a dipper. Again, start with a dipper your child is familiar with, enjoys and matches their skill level (for example, toast fingers, koftas/patties, don’t give your little one something like a carrot stick if they aren’t able to chew this trickier texture). Don’t limit opportunities by how you may perceive the taste, let your little one guide the combinations that they pick, some kids will enjoy banana dipped in sour cream.  Dippy trees and yoghurt recipe from Milk to Meals   Allow your little one to establish the pace, it’s ok if they are only keen to do the dipping. Even though they are not consuming, they are rehearsing, they are being exposed to the sensory components of the dip and dippers. The sight, the smell, the texture (on their hands), maybe even a taste. Be mindful that any added pressure is counterproductive, allow them to explore at the level they are comfortable with to establish joy and trust with their food and with you during mealtimes. Many little ones will enjoy licking their favourite dip off the dipper for many offerings before biting the dipper.   You can offer the dips presented in different ways, pay attention to what your little one seems to gravitate to or feels the most comfortable in exploring. Do they enjoy the dip as a blob on their highchair tray? In a novel little bowl? In a small section of their divided plate? A muffin tin?   Once your little one is dip, dip, dipping a familiar dipper into a familiar dip, you can try different dippers. You may like to offer a few dippers at the same meal (be mindful not to overwhelm them with too many choices, two preferred dippers and one new dipper at most would work well for more cautious eaters). You can then try a different dip with their preferred dippers.    Let me give you an example of how this may play out. Let’s say your little one likes tomato sauce/ketchup, and you find a dipper that she enjoys, plain penne pasta. You begin by dipping the pasta in the tomato sauce, your little one dips and starts to lick off the sauce and then as the meal progresses she begins eating the pasta dipped in tomato sauce. You then offer pasta and other preferred dippers (carrots, apple, patties) to dip in the tomato sauce over the next week, she joyfully dips and eats these. Once she had established the dipping idea and appears to be comfortable and confident, you add a very thin slice of shredded chicken along-side two other preferred dippers (carrot and patty). You begin by dipping the shredded chicken (and singing the “Dip, dip, dip” tune) and then placing it on a separate plate. Her body language indicates she is ok with this and begins dipping. She doesn’t bring it to her mouth this meal. You offer this combo a few days later and after eating all her preferred dippers (carrot and penne) in tomato sauce, you sing the tune and again dip the chicken in tomato sauce. After dipping and dumping a few bits, she decides to lick the tomato sauce off one of the pieces of chicken. Two weeks later, with you offering every few days, she is enjoying small shredded pieces of chicken dipped in tomato sauce. You then move on to a new dip, a pasta sauce dip with her preferred dippers (penne, carrots, apples, shredded chicken).  Dipping sweet potato into liver pate with beetroot kvass ‘jelly’ recipe from Milk to Meals   Dips can be fun and engaging for little ones and give them the comfort of exploring new foods with a food they like. The dipping action is similar to the action used with a spoon and fork, so it can provide some practice for utensil use. Dips also offer the opportunity for little ones to experience different textures, their favourite dip could be paired with broccoli, toast slices, mango so they can experience the different textures of these dippers on their hands, their lips, their tongue and inside their mouths even if they only chose to lick their fav dip off. Dips can become a fun familiar sequence in your mealtimes which offers your little one predictability and comfort when navigating mealtimes.      Written by Paediatric Speech Pathologist, Jamie Williams  @nourished.babes

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