Sensory Food Play: Should You Encourage Your Child to Play With Their Food?

Children tend to love playing with food. But should you purposefully engage your child in sensory food play?

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Children are naturally attracted to colours and flashy objects. Colourful alphabet characters can immensely improve a child’s ability to learn. Using similar inclinations can engage a child's senses and improve a child's development.

Playing with food has always been seen as a disrespectful notion. What if such actions can bring benefits to a child's development? Why is playing with food, in particular, more beneficial?

What are the benefits of engaging in sensory food play?
Letting your child play with food can help develop your child's fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Further, sensory food play can increase food appeal, therefore reducing food neophobia. It also allows your toddler to explore different tastes and textures! Participating in food play activities may be a unique way to introduce new foods to picky eaters.

In one study, preschoolers who took part in sensory food play activities using fruits and vegetables were more likely to try them out. Not only were the children more likely to try the foods used in the activities, but they also had a higher chance of trying other fruits and vegetables beyond the experiment. Sensory exposure is what raises adventurous eaters!

Sensory food play activities
An interesting smell, sight or taste can pique a child's interest. Simply stimulating their senses can sway their perception of certain foods. For instance, making eye-catching car-shaped veggies can be enough to tempt some children to eat their veggies. That's just how children are!

The touch of different food textures can help a child accept new textures in future foods. For instance, some children aren’t used to slimy food but giving them a chance to touch, smell and play with these foods can help with accepting these foods. Allow them to play with textures of potential food you’d like your child to accept or eat.

For children, playing with food seems like the right thing to do but from a mother's point of view it may seem pointless, or even an embarrassment. However, engaging in sensory food play activities stimulates your child's senses, expands brain connections and can help mend your child's relationship with certain foods.

With just little supervision, a child's relationship with food could possibly turn out to be a fun and memorable experience!


Sources:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28202412/

https://www.healthline.com/health/childrens-health/sensory-play#activities

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29446037/

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