Holiday Gift Guide – Feeding Edition
Clients frequently ask me to recommend gifts around holiday time. I love this question because I have so many ideas and love to share them, and it gives parents a chance to buy fun & interactive therapy materials that they may not otherwise choose!
I have compiled my all-time favorite gifts for your little ones below with clickable links for most items! Enjoy and happy shopping!
Fun Plates: I try to stay away from gimmicky items, but these plates by Genuine Fred fall in to the separated plate group, which are great for picky eaters. You can put your child’s favorite food(s) in the large section, and new or “sometimes” foods in the smaller sections. Bonus – the last section comes with a lid, so that dinner can end with a sweet surprise. For the Dinneractive plate, you can sequence foods by presenting them with one preferred food and one “sometimes” food.
Kids Cookbooks: Cooking together with your toddler is great for family bonding, and allows your child to try new foods without the pressure of being presented with them at the table. You can work on reading and comprehension skills, planning, organization, sequencing, and following directions while following the recipe.
Some of my favorite kid cookbooks are:
Kitchen set. Allowing kids to play with food exposes them to feeding routines such as sharing, combining, cutting, preparing, and eating, while encouraging kitchen curiosity! I often use play cups to work on cup drinking with kiddos before introducing a cup of water to them. We have a tea party and work on tilting the cup, pretending to drink, and pouring pretend liquid. You can purchase one online in any combination you want.
Pro Tip: Make your own by taping up empty food boxes (mac and cheese, cereal, pasta, and washing out empty plastic food containers (yogurt, whipped cream, egg cartons)
Kids Kitchen helper set. Involving your kids in making new foods allows them opportunities to talk about food (color, temperature, taste, texture) and to try new foods while cooking. You can make your own by collecting extras around the kitchen, or find matching kid sets online or in-stores. A good set includes some spoons, spatulas, measuring spoons, measuring cups, cutting boards, and kitchen towels (and an apron for bonus points – and cleaner clothes!)
Kid Placemats: I wish I had thought of this! I adore this amazing placement for kids from Audrey Jones Designs! This beautiful treat contains most of the questions we review in feeding therapy when working on trying new foods, and allows you to take this idea to family mealtimes. Finding similarities between foods is a great way to teach kids that this new food isn’t actually so “new,” just a little different. The new chicken nugget may not be the same shape as the ones they like, but it’s the same color, temperature, and texture! One of the best parts is that you can get a digital download (to print and take on the road), or the actual item. I also love that we can support a small business, especially during such tough times!
Food Related Games: What kid wouldn’t want a new game that they get to play with the whole family?! In these games (which are appropriate for 3+), they can feed someone else, work together to create vegetable soup, or touch spaghetti noodles. Plus, we love the added exposure to new foods, which normalizes them come dinnertime. Happy playing!
Books about Food. Reading with your children is the very best way to build language with your little ones. You can target vocabulary building, asking/answering questions, and prediction. Reading books about food also exposes your kids to foods and helps them learn about new and different foods. We all know The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Green Eggs and Ham, but here are others you may not know about!
Mini Cookie Cutters: These are by far one of my favorite tools for teaching kids to try new foods. When your tot sees a lot of food, it can be overwhelming, but if you serve a small portion of a new food, they are more willing to try it. This goes from grownups too. Most of us won’t take a big mouthful of a new food, but rather we give it a nibble first! Allow your child to nibble the tail off a fish or the ear off of a mouse when you cut their food up with these cute cookie cutters. I use them for introducing veggies, fruits, and sandwiches.