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Two boys helping mom prepare a smoothie at home.

How-To: Soft Food Diet for Kids

Author: Craniofacial Parent Advisory Council, Joanna Knight
Published Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2022

After my daughter’s cleft palate surgery when she was 10 months old, she was prescribed a liquid diet and then a soft food diet for four to five weeks as she recovered. The recovery was tough, but the diet was easy. Baby foods are mostly pureed, pre-blended, packaged neatly, and sold everywhere.

It is a totally different ballgame with our now 8-year-old preparing to have her bone-graft surgery. She loves chips, pizza, salad, and apples! How do you prepare for a liquid or soft food diet for two months when your child is accustomed to eating food with a variety of texture, ingredients, and flavors?

Step 1: Prepare your equipment.
Step 2: Make a “can have” and “can’t have” list.
Step 3: Create a recipe list or have resources handy for recipes.
Step 4: Make a meal plan to include nutritional information.
Step 5: Challenge your family to participate (this might be the hardest part).

If you have ever considered buying a high-powered Ninja blender or emulsifier, this may be the time to invest. Handheld or single-serve blenders are also perfect for snack-size smoothies and meals. Cups may need special attention considering there is no use of straws allowed. Dust off your Instant Pot; it’s a great way to make overnight oats and prepare soft, shredded meats. Increase flavor and texture by using your oven to roast fruits and vegetables.

Your craniofacial team will provide that ever-important list of “can have” and “can’t have” items, and they may recommend you meet with a nutritionist to develop a meal plan prior to surgery. You may end up providing five small, blended meals and two snacks throughout a day to maintain your child’s caloric intake.

Lastly, challenge your family to get involved and get creative. Have siblings learn to prepare smoothies and blend fruits and vegetables. Give out a prize to the most creative soft-food meal. When serving meals at home, make sure you are all partaking in the soft food diet. Don’t wait until recovery to test out recipes and develop an idea of which ingredients your child actually likes. Start a soft food journal two to three weeks ahead of surgery so that you and your child will be ready for the challenge ahead.

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About Craniofacial Parent Advisory Council

About Craniofacial Parent Advisory Council

CHKD's Craniofacial Parent Advisory Council consists of current and former patients and family members who have experienced care at our Cleft and Craniofacial Center. Council members provide feedback to ensure the craniofacial center consistently offers the best care possible. They also directly support other patients and families undergoing treatment. All members undergo an application process before being selected for the council.