Seed: This is a learning feeder. This child has not yet developed the skills to eat a wide variety of foods by mouth. This feeder may not be ready to place food into their mouth or may be learning to manage purees or their first meltable solids (e.g., puffs). We may see frequent gagging and choking with these friends. We may have difficulty achieving appropriate weight gain and meeting our nutritional content.
Seedling: This child may have less than 15 foods they eat regularly, may not be able to tolerate new foods on their plate, may present with “behaviors” at the table, may not be able to sit at the table for more than five minutes, may currently eat different meals than the rest of the family, may request/eat the same foods each day, this child may only accept preferred food brands, and may have difficulty describing/navigating foods with new properties/changes.
Sprout: This child may have less than 30 foods they eat regularly, this child may be emerging with their ability to see, hear, smell, touch, and occasionally taste new foods, this child may need multiple attempts before they can accept a new food into their inventory, this child often may be able to sit at the table for a full meal and may be presented with the same meal as the rest of the family in addition to their current preferred foods, this child may accept modifications to their preferred food brands and items.
Blossom: This child has mastered a variety of skills including: seeing, hearing smelling, touching and tasting of foods. This child is able to enjoy foods with our basic senses, but can sit in a proper child size seat and physically engage in eating and feeding skills using his/her vestibular and proprioceptive skills. This child can tolerate a wide variety of foods from each food group, but still may require some hands on play and exploration for new foods.
1) “Bake”/“Carve” a Cake – Take a large seedless watermelon and slice it across lengthwise into 4-5 large sections, slice off peel, and cut of edges to form large squares or circles of varied proportions. Let your little help you stack the pieces from biggest to smallest on top of each other forming a large tiered “watermelon cake” ! Next, grab sprinkles, icings, melted chocolate (or chocolate chips!) and let your little help you decorate the “cake!”
2) Hammering 🔨 – Grab a toy hammer and a handful of golf tees, let your little (if/as age appropriate) help hammer the tees into a whole melon to add “spikes” or let them hammer them all the way in and then pull them out together. Be sure to discuss how the watermelon smells and feels. Is there a bigger smell when the tees are in the melon? Or when they are pulled out?
3) Watermelon Bowling 🎳 – Grab a small whole watermelon and set up pins (or we love to use empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, foam or plastic cups, etc as pins!). Enjoy a classic game of bowling (but skip the throw and keep it a rolling only version to avoid totally bruising your melon)!
4) Melon Popsicles – Slice your melon into small triangular pieces and let your little help you stick popsicle sticks into the rind
5) Watermelon Boats – Slice your melon into triangles and pretend play sail your boats across real (or pretend) water together, maybe even host a sailboat race!
6) Watermelon Cut Outs – Have a go punching out fun shapes from your watermelon slices, anyone up for watermelon goggles?
7) Wheels on the Bus – Slice your whole watermelon across into circular sections, offer your Little a “wheel” and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” while driving with your giant melon “steering wheels”
8) Melon Bugs – grab your melon ball/cookie dough or ice cream scoopers and let your little help you scoop out watermelon balls from a whole melon sliced in half, line them up together to make little melon inch worms!
9) Watermelon Ball Obstacle Course – Have a little that needs some heavy work activities to regulate? Try rolling or carrying that whole watermelon through a homemade obstacle course! Don’t be afraid to break out all those pillows and couch cushions!
10) Melon Smiles – Slice your melon into the classic smile and make silly smiles and frowns together!
11) Seed Plop – Grab a seeded watermelon and see who can gather and spew/shoot their watermelon seeds the farthest or into a target/basket (e.g., a cup or bowl)
12) Melon Ice Cream – Grab your ice cream scoops or cookie cutters for this one! Scoop or punch out fun shapes and fill up a sugar or waffle cone with your special watermelon “ice cream” scoops!
13) The MintMelon – Take some cubed watermelon and a handful of fresh mint leaves and let your Little help you load everything into the blender. Countdown for “blast off” (blend) and enjoy! If your Little is old enough, let them help pour from one container into the cups!
14) Watermelon Roll Painting – Grab a big sheet of paper or poster board, a whole watermelon and some finger paint outside. Squirt globs of paint across the board and let your little roll the melon back and forth across the page creating their very own masterpiece!
15) Watermelon Sensory Bag – Take a few cubes of watermelon and glitter, buttons, beads, figures or whatever you can find from around the house and pop them into a plastic bag. Let your little touch, feel and squish the watermelon cubes down into pulp and juice, then you can use the bag as a fun “search and find” activity bag!
16) Watermelon Counting – Take your watermelon sticks, slices or cubes and let your little help you stack them onto a serving plate or into the tupperware you plan to store it in, count each piece outlouch together!
18) Soda Floats – grab your melon ball/cookie dough or ice cream scoopers and let your little help you scoop out watermelon balls from a whole melon sliced in half, place them into a fizzy drink of your choice (if/as age appropriate) e.g., sparkling water, sparkling lemonade, a lemon-lime soda or orange soda; add straws and cheers, if your little is old enough break out the fun or special glasses for this one!
19) The Melon Bowl – Scoop out your melon leaving the rind intact, let your Little help “fill up the bowl” with water and make a fun pretend play swimming pool, sensory bin or a big giant cup (don’t try sips unless you’re outside!)
20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!
1) The Jumping Pad – Take some fun figures (or favorite action figures) and let them use a slice or full block of tofu as their “jumping pad/trampoline” Who’s figure can bounce the highest?!
2) Skyscrapers – Gather air fried tofu “blocks” and a sauce of choice (we like to use BBQ!) build “skyscrapers” together using the BBQ sauce “cement” to dip the tofu “bricks” in and stick them together. Who can build the biggest skyscraper?!
3) Squishy Stamps – Slice your tofu block into strips and grab a few of your favorite cookie cutters. Stamp out a few fun shapes and use a dip of your choice as ink (e.g., Korean BBQ, Ketchup, Ranch, etc)!
4) Silly Mustaches – Slice your tofu into strips and make “pretend play” mustaches for you and your little one!
5) Block Inchworms – cut out a variety of cubes from your tofu block and line them up to form “inchworms!” inch the pieces across the table together!
6) X & O – Cut out a handful of “X” and “O” shapes from your tofu block and enjoy a classic game of tic-tac-toe!
7) Boop Game – take a block of tofu and “pretend play” that it’s your nose! Take turns “boop-ing” each other’s noses (by poking them and calling out “BOOP!”)!
8) Treasure Chest – A fan favorite! Slice your block of tofu in half, scoop out a small section in the bottom block to form the inside of the “chest” and place something silly inside (think: a tiny toy, a favorite food, a (clean) piece of money, etc) take turns peeking under the “lid” (or top block of the tofu to see what’s inside the chest! We love to yell “PEEK” when we quickly open up the lid to “peek” underneath!
9) Fix it Up! – Take a few golf tees and (if/as age appropriate) a toy hammer. Take turns pounding the nails into a full tofu block and then pulling them back out for great tactile exposure!
10) Minecraft Blocks – Take a few tofu blocks and help your Little One build their “fortress” up as high as they can!
11) Fun Faces – use pieces of air fried tofu to form silly faces on paper plates together, get creative and add other veggies as needed too!
12) Ice Cream Sundays – Use a few pieces of air fried tofu and stack them onto a cone (drawing or an actual ice cream cone if you have one) drizzle “caramel/chocolate” (i.e., a topping/sauce of your choice BBQ, ketchup etc) over your “1, 2, or 3 scoops” Use a seasoning as your “sprinkles” and let your little help shake those “sprinkles” on top!
13) The Swimming Pool – Take a small ramekin and fill it with a dip or sauce of your choice. Pretend play that your tofu pieces are people headed to the “swimming pool” (i.e., the dip/sauce “pool”) and take turns helping them “dive in!” for a “dip!” !
14) The Balance Beam – Take tofu pieces in different sizes and shapes and see which ones you can balance across an extended finger which you can pretend is the “balance beam”!
15) Poke Designs – Take a fork and poke it into your tofu block, take turns making different patterns and designs with the fork prints! This is a great activity for littles who are more hesitant to engage with new foods with their hands, but would be comfortable interacting with the new food with their utensil (i.e., the fork)!
16) Hot Potato – Play a classic game of “hot potato” using a block or piece of tofu!
17) Tanks – Pretend play that your block of tofu is a “big tank” driving all over your plate/mat!
18) Simon Says Tofu Edition – Play simon says together using the tofu for all of your directions, for example: “simon says put the tofu on your elbow!” “simon says, hop on one foot holding the tofu!”
19) Tofu Snakes – Cut your tofu into strips and pretend play snakes “sssssslideing” all over your plate!
20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!
1) Beautiful bouquets – Take raw cauliflower pieces and put together your own fun “bouquet”! Want to make it colorful? Add a little food coloring to a veggie dip of your choice or choose a variety of colored dips (e.g., hummus, ranch, refried blackbeans) and paint your “flowers” so your bouquet can be extra fun!
2) Cauliflower Parachutes – Sail your cauliflower “parachutes” up into the sky and all around together!
3) Tiny Treetops – Build a tiny forest of cauliflower “trees” by propping them upright in a thick puree (e.g., mashed potatoes)
4) Cauliflower Buffet – See how many different “cauliflower” dishes you can pair up and have a blind taste test (think: cauliflower dips, cauliflower tots, cauliflower rice, etc!)
5) Dinosaur Dig – Rice up your cauliflower (or grab a pre-riced pack frozen from the store!) and heap the “dirt” or “snow” over a few dinosaur figurines. Let your little “dig-dig-dig” for the missing dinos!
6) Cauliflower Shakes – Add a little riced cauliflower into a smoothie recipe, be sure to let your little help scoop it in!
7) Cauliflower Umbrellas – Break a few pieces of cauliflower off and fill a medicine cup with water, pour the “rain” over the umbrellas and see who has the “best” umbrella! If you’re feeling brave maybe even try it over your tongues!
8) A Snowy Day – Let your little sprinkle “snow” (riced cauliflower) over their plate during a meal/snack!
9) Cauliflower Hash – Shred a little cauliflower in with your hashbrowns for a fun twist!
10) Cauliflower Chop – (If/as age appropriate) Grab a child-safe knife and let your little help “chop down the trees” with you!
11) Cauliflower Bath – Let your little one help send the cauliflower “through the carwash” and scrub down that cauliflower in the sink with you!
12) Cauliflower Hide and Seek – Take a piece or full head of cauliflower and play hide and seek/search and find with it!
13) Hot Air Balloons – Float your cauliflower pieces “upupup” to the moon! Maybe they’ll make a surprise landing on…. Your nose! Or maybe even your teeth!
14) Mashed Cauliflower Letters – Take your (cooked) mashed cauliflower and spread a thin layer out on a sheet pan. Use your fingers to form letters, lines or shapes together! PRO TIP: If your little is hesitant to put their finger in, let them use a utensil (e.g., chopstick, straw or plastic spoon) to draw instead!
15) Cauliflower Pizza – Grab a pre-made (or make your own!) cauliflower crust and DIY pizza together!
16) Crystal Ball – Peel the leaves off your head of raw cauliflower and pretend play “rub” your crystal ball together! Ask it questions or tell silly fortunes together!
17) Cauliflower Stamps – Slice your cauliflower into steaks and then use cookie cutters to punch out little stamps! Use real paint or food purees for more fun and exposure!
Make your own instruments! Place kale pieces into containers and shake them around like maracas! Bonus: Name your band something simple such as “Kale Crew”
Use kale in food art! Make the kale grass or leaves on a tree!
Place kale into a smoothie! Do a science experiment to slowly add a little bit more and compare the colors as you go!
Make kale chips! Have your Little help you prep in the kitchen!
Put together a kale bouquet! Fill a small cup with water and place kale pieces inside together!
Create your own kale sensory bin! Have your Little practice ripping up pieces and place them into a container. Use toy animals to have a pretend farm!
Have a kale race! Use kitchen tongs, a chip clip, or a clothespin to pick up a piece of kale and race it to the other side of the kitchen!
Play hide and seek! Take a large piece of kale and hide it around!
Put together a sensory bottle with kale! Fill a bottle up with water, kale pieces, and other ingredients of your choosing such as other greens or even food coloring!
Use kale pieces as paint brushes! Paint with dips or other condiments! Hold the brush in your hands or even between your teeth for a silly time!
Have a kale boat race! Place the kale in a bin of water and practice blowing your boats to the other side! Bonus: this gets your Little up close and personal with kale!
Have a kale car wash! Get out the toy cars and scrub them with kale for a pretend play activity!
Be a kale scientist! Make a hypothesis about how many kale pieces it takes to build a certain height of a tower or reach a certain weight on a food scale!
Kale Blankets: Make kale blankets and pretend putting little toys to sleep by singing “rock a bye baby”
Silly Faces: Challenge each other to make the silliest kale faces/disguises! Use kale as unicorn horns, silly mustaches, long noses, and more!
Make kale jewelry! Grab out some string and tear up a few pieces of kale leaves! String the leaves to make a bracelet or necklace.
Design your own kale sensory bottle: Take an old water bottle and fill it with water and kale pieces plus any other fun ingredients of your choosing like food coloring, glitter, mini toys, and more!
Read a book with your magical kale pointer! Tell your Little(s) that it’s story time and they can use a magical green pointer to answer questions! Have your Little point out characters or vocabulary with the kale tip
Remix a song! Try out “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your kale!”
Lastly, serve the kale. They may not eat it, but remember a little bit on the plate goes a long way for exposure!
1) Turn up the BEETS! Dance Around to some fun music with your “silly BEET headphones”
2) Roll Away Race – Roll your beets across the table and see who can make it to the “finish line” first!
3) Beet Shapes – Slice a few large beets across into halved strips and let your little one help push cookie cutters through to make fun beet shapes!
4) Beet Balance – Build a small obstacle course for you and your little one. See who can make it through the farthest with the beet still balanced on their head!
5) Beet Stick Cabins – Slice your beets “french-fry” style and use the “sticks” to build a cabin together!
6) Beet Stamps – Cut fun shaped into your beet and let your little one help stamp it across paper to make some fun artwork together!
7) Beet Paint – Anyone who has enjoyed the pleasure of slicing beets knows it lets all kinds of fun purple “dye” out. Use the beet juice to paint polk-a-dots onto your hands together!
8) Beet Scoop – Fill your sink or a bin with water and pop your beets in. After washing them let your little one help you scoop them out using a ladle or large spoon!
9) Purple Egg Fun – Dye your boiled eggs with beets! Check out this fun activity from KidMinds: https://kidminds.org/the-science-of-coloring-easter-eggs-with-beets/?fbclid=IwAR2f1oFTAtl1nF9kAwhZf_377gAQL9cdfOo6PkveGcW6YMRSlVEjV_yjrfw
10) Home Grocery Store – Play pretend play “grocery” and let your little one “pick out,” “check out” using that Monopoly money and “grocery bag” up your beets!
11) Beet Letters – Use a “french-fry” style beet sticks like a crayon and write a secret message or draw some fun shapes on a paper plate with your little one!
12) Bulldozers – Use those “french-fry” style beet sticks to push around some mashed potatoes “Brmmmmmm! Bulldozer coming through!!”!
13) Beet Comparison – Take your beets and sort them out, which are the biggest? The smallest? Which is the darkest shade? The lightest?
14) Hot Potato Beets – Play a classic game of “hot potato” tossing your beet back and forth!
15) Grow Beet Leaves – Take a clear jar of water and pop a beet inside, watch the greens continue to grow and the little roots that expand out with your little one!
16) Beet Pops – Puree your beets and pipe some into a set of homemade ice cubes or “popsicles” !
17) Beet Clocks – Hold your beets by the greens and swing them back and forth like a grandfather clock! Who can make their clock swing the slowest?!
18) Beet Jam – Puree your beets (or steam well and fork smash with your little one!) to make your own “beet jam” that you can spread on crackers or on your next PBJ!
19) Beet Sensory Bag – Puree your beets and place the puree into a sealed plastic bag with a few fun items (maybe even some of the beet leaves!) – let your little feel through the bag to uncover the leaves or items you placed inside!
20) Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, continued exposure is the key to success!
Finding yourself frustrated with meals? Wishing your child would progress with new foods quicker? We hear you. We understand you. We respect you.
Did it feel good to hear that?
Now, turn the script to your child. Hear them, understand them, respect them.
New foods can be anxiety inducing. New activities can be challenging. New restaurants can be overwhelming.
We encourage you to not only acknowledge your child’s emotions in response to foods, but also to assist them in navigating through problem solving.
“I see that you crossed your arms and turned away to tell me that you were upset when I put this large bowl of new, purple food on the table. Let’s try putting a smaller amount onto a plate and making a purple house out of these carrots!”
Hi there! It’s Paige again dropping in to say hello and share some delicious allergen-free recipes and insights with you. If you haven’t read my posts before, I’ll give you a brief introduction of myself and you can also find my previous posts “Tips for parents of children with food allergies” and “Back to School for Littles with Food Allergies.” I work closely with individuals of all ages for nutrition counseling. I specifically focus on food allergies, vegan and vegetarian foods, food service sustainability and culinary nutrition. I work with a variety of students at my job to help them manage their food allergies, along with our team of talented chefs who help me create and implement new recipes. You can see more of what our team does by checking out @tk_bgsudining on Instagram!
Let’s get to the fun part- RECIPES! The following recipes are ones that I absolutely LOVE to use when cooking for individuals with food allergies. Although they are specific to valentine’s day, they can really be used any time of year! Shape the cookies into shamrocks, make the pizzas into Christmas trees… you get the idea. The cookies are the perfect recipe to share with classrooms of children because they don’t contain any of the top 8 allergies.
Allergen Free Sugar Cookies
Allergen Free Sugar Cookies and Frosting
2/3 cup Earth Balance Butter
¾ cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup applesauce
4 tsp Oatmilk or Rice Milk
¼ tsp Salt
1 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Xantham Gum
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 cups gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, applesauce and milk until smooth. Add in the salt, xantham gum, baking powder and half o the gluten-free flour. Mix well.
Add in the rest of the gluten-free flour and blend well.
Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Sprinkle gluten free flour on clean surface. Roll out cookie dough and cut out shapes.
Bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and frost!
Allergen Free Frosting
½ cup earth balance butter, softened
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp Oat milk or rice milk
Food Coloring as Desired
Using electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and milk until smooth.
Slowly add in powdered sugar. Add in food coloring as desired. Keep refrigerated.
Note: When looking for sprinkles be sure to double check ingredient labels because many sprinkles are manufactured in facilities that process peanuts and treenuts. You can also find a wide variety of allergen free sprinkles on Amazon! I will be creating a “favorite products” amazon list for you to check out soon.
Allergen Free Heart Shaped Pizzas
No-Rise Pizza Dough
1 package dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
1 cup warm water
2 ½ cups gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Tbsp olive Oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups tomato sauce
3 Tbsp Tomato paste (more if you prefer thick sauce)
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp Dried Italian Herbs
Daiya Mozzarella Cheese (Note: some non-dairy cheeses contain coconut)
And anything else you desire!
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium bowl and add rest of ingredients. Beat vigorously for 20 strokes and let rest for 10 minutes. Press dough into heart shaped pizzas and place onto greased 11×17 baking sheet.
Mix sauce ingredients together and spread over heart shaped pizzas. Top with Daiya cheese and toppings of choice.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes (dependent upon shape and size). Enjoy!
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Stay safe and warm friends.
❄️ Simple sensory fun coming your way! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1️⃣ Real snow! Scoop some up in a bucket, container, or even into the bathtub for some easy fun! In a warm climate?? (we’re jealous!) Use cotton balls or styrofoam packaging as your fake snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 2️⃣ Holiday scents! Snag cranberries, cinnamon sticks, fresh pine for a sensory experience to engage the nose! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 3️⃣ Freeze those water beads for a pretend icy winter wonderland! Try freezing beads that you’ve already had out/used. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 4️⃣ Use shaving cream for fake snow! Bonus: work on fine letter/number recognition and production by practicing writing in the snow! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 5️⃣ Try an edible sensory experience by using white cooking frosting as snow! Have it “snow” on graham crackers, strawberries, or even bananas! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💡 Pro-tip: Try using a kiddy pool or baby bath tub for easy sensory fun clean up! ⠀
1) Silly String Bean Faces – Build your own faces with your green beans using the full bean for a big grin and pop out the seeds for little eyes and noses! Do you have snow where you live right now? Why not add them to a snowman!?
2) Dough Rollers – Does your little one enjoy Playdough or cooking with you? Why not use your green beans as “steamrollers” to help roll out that dough (play-dough or real dough if you’re into baking!) or make silly shapes and stamps into it!
3) Bean Telephones – Pretend play telephone with your string beans, *ring-ring* do I hear a fun time on the line?!
4) Inchworms – “Inch” those green beans along like little inch worms or choo-choo trains! If you’re little one doesn’t know what an inchworm is, look up videos on you-tube and then act them out together!
5) Build the Fortress – Take those green beans and build your own complete home or fortress, stack them up link log cabins and feel free to add fun editions like “trees” or “flowers” that your little one can smell and feel!
6) String Bean Boats – Grab a tub of water or fill up your sink and drive a few bean “boats” or “canoes” through with your little one while your washing the beans off
7) Bean Paint Brushes – Grab a little dollop of ranch or dill dip (or preferred sauce/dip) and use your beans to “paint” a masterpiece on your plates
8) Plant your own beans – When they’re ready to harvest let your little one help you collect and wash them up!
9) Coloring Book Beans – Grab a coloring book or print an outline of a favorite character and use the beans to outline the character. Living somewhere sunny? Try outlining your shaddows (try your hands first!) with the beans too!
🔗 Another linking to learn! Poptarts ➡️ Raspberries ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🔗 Linking to learn involves presenting one food at a time to your Little while using your words to show how the foods are linked! Such as we had rainbow rocks and now we have all red rocks!” Spend a few minutes interacting with each food before moving on to the next! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 💡 Remember: linking to learn is for food exploration! Your Little may not quite be ready to eat all of these foods just yet! Celebrate the small steps like touching a new food, putting a new food on their noses, or even taking a small lick! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⏰ Keep it fun and try not to stay at the table too long! Take 15-20 minutes total to present each food one at a time. Try this strategy during a snack time so as not to interrupt mealtimes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
🙋🏼♀️Natalie Kremer MA, CCC-SLP, CLC ( Speech-Language Pathologist/Feeding Therapist/Certified Lactation Counselor )
🙋🏻♀️Molly Stewart MA, CCC-SLP ( Speech-Language Pathologist/Feeding Therapist )
A duo of passionate therapists seeking to share knowledge and education to make mealtimes fun and functional for your family! We are here to help you and your little one(s) thrive at the table!