Let’s talk DIPS! Did you know that the use of dips is something I use all the time in feeding therapy to help reluctant eaters learn how to eat more foods?
There are so many dip options – these are just a few! Kids also enjoy ketchup and ranch (obviously), as well as olive tapenade, broths and soups (including bone broth), gravy, dressings etc.
As an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy, I find dips really helpful for the following reasons:
- Dips help kids learn to try new foods. Pair a familiar dip (like ketchup or hummus) with an unfamiliar food like broccoli or chicken as a more comfortable way for your child to learn about these foods.
- Dips offer an amazing sensory experience during mealtime. We want our kids comfortable touching lots of textures and seeing a variety of colors so they eventually become more adventurous eaters. Dips instantly offer new textures, colors, smells, and tastes. Plus, 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.
- Dips can help you chain from one food to another. For example, if your child doesn’t like marinara sauce but enjoys ketchup and tomato soup, try dipping roasted sweet potatoes in those preferred dips first. Next, offer a third dipping option of marinara sauce. Eventually they may be more open-minded to marinara sauce on pasta!
- Dips can offer nutrition! Yes, many contain salt, but they have many nutritional benefits too! Cooked tomato in marinara sauce and ketchup (yes, ketchup!) offers lycopene; olive oil may be heart protective, and vinegar may help blood sugar regulation.
I recommend offering them as early as 6 months (stick to the less salty ones in infancy like yogurt, smashed avocado, fruit purees, olive oil). Start by dipping strips of food into the dip and handing them to baby. By 14 months, your child may be able to dip on their own. You don’t have to use dips all the time, but it is fun to try them out when your kiddo isn’t into eating a specific food.