Many parents have found that, for their toddlers, food seems to magically change with “sauce.”
Who can tell if it’s the actual act of dipping which probably seems a lot like play; the fun and independence of controlling part of the meal (“Should I have a little sauce or a lot of sauce?” “Should I mix the colors of the sauce and the food to make new colors?”); or, if it’s the actual taste of the food and sauces that kids like. Whatever it is, if it keeps the kids eating (and maybe even quiet :)) at mealtimes, many parents indulge their kids with “sauce” and wonder if this is okay.
We pediatricians get this question often.
For most kids (kids with calorie and metabolic restrictions who need to monitor intake closely and specifically being the exception), I say, “Let them eat sauce!” “Sauce” for children can be any of a number of things: ketchup, barbecue sauce or other condiments, salad dressings, yogurt, peanut butter, and more! We have even heard of families making a pile of EasyPeasie on their toddlers’ plates for dipping! Try to pick sauces that are free of preservatives, artificial colors and flavors; choose ones with whole ingredients so that they are good calories. Remember that as far as palate-priming is concerned, the food exposure does not have to be large or isolated to count. Mixing EasyPeasie into the sauces, for example, will provide a little extra veggie exposure with every dip (and with Green and Red Blends, add a little fun with color)!
So, go ahead and let the kids combine as many different flavors and textures as they want – even if it’s something you would never eat (i.e. yogurt-covered tomatoes dusted with EasyPeasie).
Go wild! Let them eat sauce!