Introducing children to a diverse range of foods can be a challenging task. One delicious strategy to encourage your child to explore a new food is the use of dips and sauces. These not only enhance the taste of familiar foods but can act as a gateway to fostering a positive attitude towards trying new foods.
Children are more likely to embrace a new food when introduced alongside familiar elements. Dips and sauces can provide a bridge between the known and the unknown by offering a layer of familiarity. For example, offering a vegetable platter paired with peanut butter or tomato sauce for dipping can not only be a fun novelty for your child, but a familiar way to explore a new food.
Allowing children to dip, drizzle, and explore on their own fosters a sense of autonomy in their food choices. By giving them the power to decide how much or little sauce they want, parents can instil a positive association with mealtime, making it a fun and interactive experience. It can work both ways too, pairing a new dip with a safe food, such as chips or crackers, can be a gateway to exploring new textures and flavours. You may want to start with a small amount on your child’s plate to avoid overwhelm. And of course, eating with your child allows them to observe their parents dipping and exploring new foods, supporting their willingness to try new food.
Finally, dips and sauces can serve as flavourful tools to boost your child’s caloric intake at meals and snacks. If you need to increase your child’s calorie intake a nutrient-rich dip, such as hummus, avocado, or yoghurt-based varieties, offer nutritious opportunity for more calories at mealtimes.
In summary, incorporating dips and sauces at mealtimes can serve as catalysts to encourage exploration of new foods and textures for your child. If you’re stuck on ideas of what to include, here’s a list of enticing dips and spreads that can add a burst of flavour to your child’s palate:
Dairy: Cream cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, custard, tzatziki,
Dips: Hummus, avocado/guacamole, salsa, nacho cheese dip or any dip from the supermarket
Nut butters: Peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), any nut butter such as almond or cashew.
Sweet spreads: Chocolate spread, Nutella, melted chocolate, jams or marmalades.
Sauces: Tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, mustard, sweet chilli sauce or relish.
By Dr Shabnam Kashef