Many parents ask, why use a food pick? Why not just a fork?
That's a great question.
Here's are a few reasons why food picks help picky eaters.
#1 Food picks are fun.
Kids are drawn to fun.
It's no secret that many kids prefer to learn through hands on, play based learning. Kids also love to use their imagination and create.
Having fun is also essential for development.
Play provides children with opportunities to develop their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills. It allows them to practice and refine their abilities and prepare for the challenges of adulthood.
When it comes to food and play, there are so many benefits for kids.
Here are two we feel are the most important:
1) Playing with food can be a fun and stress-relieving activity for children, helping to boost their mood and reduce stress levels.
2) Positive experiences with food can help children develop a love for healthy foods, which can lead to better eating habits and a wider acceptance of a variety of foods in the future.
So how do you balance play at mealtimes while still getting your kids to eat something?
Food picks combine all the benefits of "food play" with eating.
When using a food pick, kids get the opportunity for hands on play when learning about new foods presented to them.
The look and feel of food picks, especially picks with particularly fun designs, trigger the brain.
Giving a boring fork to kids is what they are expecting at mealtimes. It can be a learned association between a certain utensil and an experience they may have while eating.
Because food picks don't look or feel like the average fork, they encourage kids to turn on the creative and playful part of their brain - their right hemisphere.
They begin to play and use their imagination which is exactly what we want to see happen. (Remember those benefits above!)
When creating our products we wanted to make food utensils that where SO fun, kids couldn't resist picking them up and wanting to use them.
We have received so much feedback that goes something like: "My kids immediately opened them and won't put them down" and "My kids want to use these all the time!"
Dabbldoo food picks are the funnest food picks on the market.
#2 Food picks help reduce mealtime and food anxiety.
Trying a new food can be a significant challenge for many extremely picky eaters, as simply touching the food can be a big deal. It's a significant hurdle they need to overcome before they can even consider taking a bite.
Think about it. The dinner table can be an anxiety inducing spot for kids.
If each day you were served food over and over again that you didn't want to eat, would you want to keep going back for dinner?
You'd probably want to avoid that meal too. After all, even adults don't want to eat gross food or foods we aren't comfortable with.
For picky or hesitant eaters, the main mental barrier around new foods deals with anxiety and fear with eating new foods and/or the dinner table.
It can be a sensory overload - so picture this...
For adults and kids alike, trying new foods encompasses more than just putting a new food inside of our mouth and tasting it.
Trying a new food puts all our senses to the test and can be overwhelming for kids.
We use all our senses (sight, smell, touch and even hearing) just to determine wether or not we are going to even put a new food in our mouth and use that final sense (taste).
Small steps here are really important.
This can be a huge obstacle for kids to overcome, even with the use of fun utensils. Our food picks and brushes are used by parents and feeding professionals because they help kids eat better - step by step.
Traditional utensils (i.e. forks, spoons) are associated with eating, which for some kids can lead to immediate anxiety, fear, and refusal to even interact with a food in front of them.
Our food picks and brush look and work a different from a traditional utensil which takes the edge off when they are dealing with new food in front of them.
Overall, creating a calm and relaxed environment helps reduce kids mealtime anxiety. Using a fun utensil further transforms the atmosphere surrounding mealtime. Our food picks and brush are by design intended to give kids a sense of calm and play.
#3 Food picks encourage kids to eat without the use of pressure.
First off, here's some ground rules about mealtime and pressure from parents.
Ground rule #1: Pressure
Forcing, bribing or using foods as punishment or rewards will most often result in your kids backtracking. It's not healthy and actually damages their relationship with food.
Ground rule #2: Autonomy
Let kids eat at their own pace and respect their appetite cues. Autonomy is important for them. Mealtimes allow kids to serve themselves and make their own food choices within reasonable boundaries.
You'll notice the environment around mealtimes instantly change to be more enjoyable and pleasant if you can stick to those ground rules.
As a Pediatric Dietitian, I personally love to bring out our Dabbldoo food utensils (food picks and brush) because when the fun factor rises the pressure to eat naturally melts away.
I love to use our food picks and brush for food play activities or snack boards.
No force or pressure, I just put it out, give instructions on what food craft we are making, take a few bites myself and just let the kids do their thing.
They often eat (or at the least have a positive experience) and I never mention "having" to take a bite, finishing their plate, eating all their fruits or vegetables, or using any pressure to get results.
#4 Food picks help hesitant eaters build skills and confidence around new foods.
The reality is, there is no magic solution to easily fix picky eating struggles.
However, what does help is working at small steps to help your child gain confidence, lower anxiety, develop skills, and learn about foods that they may be not willing to try yet.
If they are willing to use a fun, novel utensil to even touch a new food, push a new food onto a food pick, or lick a small "taste test" of milk onto our brush, they are willingly doing it.
They are one step closer to becoming comfortable enough to give that food a try and to accept it. That is a huge win and our kids deserve credit for making those important steps.
It's not that kids can never use a traditional fork, it's more about understanding how feeding kids often requires parents to have different feeding tools in their toolbox.
Our food picks & brushes can be a very effective tool to have in your toolbox as you navigate your child's eating journey!
We've also created a list of specific ideas you can do with our food picks and brush at home to help them learn to eat better and have more of a variety of foods in their diet.
You won't want to miss this post for all the ideas!