Have you noticed your child loves condiments with their food? Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Ranch, Hot Sauce? Have they ever used the carrot to suck up all the ranch dressing only to leave the carrot behind? Maybe they even tried to dip their brownie in ketchup? Gross, right?
Yes, it’s true your child may show more interest in the condiment then their food, but if you don’t make a big deal of it – the obsession with it will pass. You can look at them eating the condiments as a bad thing, but in my eyes I look at them as a good thing. They provide a bridge to help your child to take a food they may be cautious of and sneak up on it rather than totally reject it.
I can still remember when my daughter was a toddler and even a preschooler. She put ketchup on EVERYTHING! Yes, she is the one who tried to dip her brownie in ketchup…and I let her. You know what she found out, it didn’t taste good on a brownie.
Last week, my 1 year old nephew was whining at dinner because he wanted more salad dressing. Yup, he just dipped his whole hand in the puddle of it and licked his hand. This is normal!
There are reasons why your children will love to use condiments (although, I fully acknowledge some kids could care less):
Condiments Taste Good
First and foremost your children will enjoy the taste of condiments. Think about it, a salad with salad dressing tastes better. French fries with ketchup..yum! So let’s say tonight you decide to serve something new or different for them – if you have a condiment on the table, they may be able to sneak up on that food faster if they have a familiar condiment to go with it.
For example: If your child loves ketchup – they might be more likely to eat the broccoli if they dip in ketchup.
I call this a bridge – it’s a bridge to help them learn to accept and like that new food.
Their Taste Buds are Different
Young children have different taste buds than us. While we may taste broccoli in one way – they actually taste a more metallic taste. This means there could be real reasons your child doesn’t love to eat their veggies. However, by allowing your child to use a condiment, it can help them to sneak up these foods.
Condiments with Fat Help
Toddlers and Preschoolers are growing rapidly. Many of our condiments also contain fat; e.g., salad dressing and butter. Since small children also have small bellies, they need to fill up without taking up too much room in their bellies. This is why they love foods (and condiments) that have fat in them. It gives them more bang for their buck.
Take for example: 1 teaspoon of butter has about the same amount of nutrition in 1/2 a slice a bread. However, a 1/2 a slice of bread will take up more room in their bellies.
So if your child is licking the butter off the bread, or wanting chunks of butter or dressing, they are likely craving exactly what they need to grow well.
As adults most of us enjoy condiments too. They do a great job complimenting our meals. As your children get older they too will learn to use condiments in way that seems more normalized, but for now…let them experiment with them to sneak up on new foods.