Should Children Play with their Food?

Should Children Play with their Food?
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From the very first moment we could eat by ourselves we were taught that food was for eating and not for playing with, but is this healthy?

Some experts believe that children should have a healthy relationship with food from the very beginning-a journey that should include the sensory delights of food play. Children are actively learning about how things work and playtime helps them to digest this in their own way. It’s a stage in their life that embraces the journey of sensory experiences from sight, smell, colour and taste to texture. Every child is given the time to develop their sleeping, walking, reading and talking, so why should eating be any different?

First foods are ideal in the early stages of development and children should have the opportunity to learn:

  • What food looks like.
  • What food smells like.
  • What food feels like.
  • What food sounds like.
  • How to pick, move, push, or slide their food.
  • How to interact with their food, for example, can it be mixed, dipped, layered like a sandwich etc.

Playing with food boosts a child’s confidence with their food. It gives them time to experience the sensory explosion that food can be, a sensory delight that improves their skills and opinion towards food. By touching and playing with their food first, they will learn to reflect and understand their food. Whether it is a positive or negative experience, they will gain the confidence to try new things at a pace that suits them, and by taking things slow they will enjoy eating and in return help us as adults to slow down a little too.

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