Yep, seriously. For many kids, food exploration begins with just learning to tolerate messy hands and faces. Many parents who bring their kids to feeding therapy have one goal in mind: Eating. In fact, as a pediatric feeding therapist, a common phrase I hear when observing families at their dinner tables is, “Quit playing with your food and just eat it!”
What parents may not understand is that the child is not avoiding food—the child is experiencing it. For the hesitant eater, this may be where a child needs to start. The palms of our hands and our fingers are rich with nerve endings, but the mouth has even more. Playing with food provides the child with information about size, texture, temperature and the changing properties of food as little hands squish and squash, pat and roll, or just pick up and let go: splat!
Here are three silly ways to play in food! Give it a try—some of it just may end up in your child’s mouth in the process. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry. Learning to be an adventurous eater takes time and the most important part of the journey is keeping it fun!