MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO. At a certain age, it seems kids will do just about anything they see other children do. Copy Kids launched it’s first DVD last January to help parents of small children tap into the positive side of this phenomenon. Featuring 12 adorable vignettes of children have fun eating healthy foods, Copy-Kids videos are designed to get your kids pumped about fruits and veggies. Families are constantly bombarded with images in the media of children enjoying other not-so-healthy foods. Copy-Kids simply employs this simple, yet effective idea to help parents counteract that influence. We met with the founder, Cai Dixon and director, Malona Badelt to hear more about the inspiration behind Copy Kids’ clever videos.
The Chalkboard Magazine: Children are prone to imitate the behavior they see modeled, and it’s true that our children are exposed to plenty of advertisements featuring processed foods. Is that what inspired Copy-Kids? When did the inspiration strike?
Malona Badelt: “When Bella was younger, I noticed that she was more willing to try new fruits and vegetables when she saw another child eating them. She liked to copy not just what they were eating, but how they were eating it. I wondered if the phenomenon could be reproduced using video. I discovered that it could. Bella watched a video of a baby eating a banana and demanded to have a banana exactly like hers. That’s when the concept was born. Find children who love to eat fruits and vegetables, film them eating them, and make the video available to parents of young children.”
TCM: Do you have any tips on how parents can best use these videos?
CK: “You definitely have to have the food available while they watch. It helps if the food looks and is prepared the way the Copy-Kids are eating it. It even helps, and I am not kidding you here… if you offer the foods on a bamboo plate, the way the kids have it. Repetition may be a part of it. (Not for every kid, some take to it instantly.) But my own daughter had to watch bell peppers six times before she started eating bell peppers. She had to watch tomatoes 8 times. But now she absolutely loves and will devour both of those foods. So it is worth it.”
TCM: We know that leading pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon supports Copy-Kids and has spoken out on the value of fruits as a part of a child’s diet. Are there any in particular that should especially be included in young children’s diets?
CK: “Fruits and vegetables have different properties. It’s recommended that children try to eat a rainbow – that way they are getting multiple benefits from a variety of produce.”
TCM: Some parents claim their children simply won’t eat these kinds of foods. Have you encountered any success stories with picky eaters?
CC: “We have so many success stories of picky eaters who are suddenly interested in eating healthy once they have seen the Copy-Kids joyfully eating. This one comes to mind. This mother says of her son after watching Copy-Kids, ‘The most stubborn kid in the whole wide world, ate all of it and laughed while doing it!’”
TCM: What are other things can parents do to encourage healthy eating habits in their children?
CK: “Model healthy eating. Prepare healthy food with children. Let children select foods they would like to eat from the produce section of the grocery store. Visit farmer’s markets with the children. Visit a community garden. Plant a vegetable garden. Purchase books and toys that are fruits and veggie related. (See our Pinterest page for more ideas.
TCM: Books are another great way kids can see positive behavior modeled. Do you have any favorites you’d recommend to parents?
CK: “Absolutely! We’ve compiled a list here.”
TCM: Is there any information you would like to add?
CK: “I want to say something about flexibility. In some homes, there is an absolute firm rule that you may never eat in front of the TV, and must always be sitting down at the table. I would encourage parents to be more flexible about that rule for toddlers when it comes to healthy eating.
My own child eats more when I am flexible about where she eats it. I’m okay if she walks around munching a stalk of celery. She might never eat celery if I made her sit down to eat it because it takes so long to chew! Healthy habits might just need a little rule-bending to initiate. But as Dr. Gordon says, ‘The eating habits we give our kids at 6 months and right into their toddler years stick with them their whole lives… it’s an incredible long-term investment.’”
TCM: What’s next for Copy-Kids, and where can it be purchased?
CK: You can purchase Copy-Kids on our website here.We are currently filming Copy-Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables 2 & Copy-Kids Brush Their Teeth. We have plans for other titles as well — all harnessing the natural inclination of children wanting to copy other children!
Get a glimpse of what it was like to film dozens of toddlers for Copy-Kids in this charming on-camera interview with Director, Malona Badelt.