How To Food-Play

Food play is just that: playing with food. There are different ways to play with food, but I think it makes the most sense to think of it like playing with any other toy.

The magic of food play is that you touch foods, because we have to be comfortable touching a food before we’ll be comfortable putting in our mouth. Often we present picky eaters with new foods and want them to eat them or even just taste them. But the step before tasting is touching.

If we can get kids touching new foods they’ll learn about them–how they feel, how they smell, how they break apart. When we know these things about new foods it feel safer to try them because we know what to expect.

So food play is playing with food, but more importantly it’s a way for kids to learn about and become more comfortable with new foods so they’ll be more likely to try them!

Here are a few ideas to start adding food play into your day:

  1. Food play Snack-time:
    Try setting aside a 15-30 minute ‘food play snack time’ every day at around the same time, if possible, or a few times a week, or every weekend, whenever works in your families’ schedule. Make this snack-time separate from a meal when you want your child to eat a quantity of food for calories or nutrition. Each ‘food play snack-time’ is a stress-free opportunity to explore and learn about the foods in the activity without pressure to eat the food.
  2. Incorporate food play activities into classroom themes or do an activity at home based on what your child’s learning in school or a topic they’re excited about.
  3. Take a favorite food play activity as a snack to your child’s school.
  4. Make a food play activity into a play-date activity.
  5. Let your child get involved in meal prep. This is food play with a purpose with the added bonus that your child will see the food again at the table after having the opportunity to get used to it and learn about it first!
  6. Tailor food paly activities to needs, ability and interests of each child by changing foods or changing the activity. Be creative!

How do you food play?

0 thoughts on “How To Food-Play

  1. Your blog is a great resource for families! I’m a paediatric physio and hear so many parents talking of their issues at meal time. Quite often there are HUGE waiting lists to see a speech therapist so to have something like this is fab! Can I pass on to the speech therapists I work with?
    We have had a great experience with baby led weaning. Meal times are never a drama unless Possum is crazy tired.
    Here’s to a generations of people with a fun and healthy relationship with food!!

    1. Thanks so much! I started this hoping I could reach more families than I could see in a day. It can be so hard to have access to therapy between insurance waits, approvals and then therapist availability! I’m so glad people are finding it helpful! Yes, feel free to pass it on to whomever you think could use it! Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. Great idea! I was just musing to my husband that our toddlers will lick any toy in the house and put it in their mouths, but they cry when we put most foods on their plate. I need to find a way to incorporate this. Do you have any specific suggestions that have worked well for you? My four year old is the pickiest eater and it is so frustrating because nine times out of ten, when she tries something, she actually likes it. But, oh the drama getting her to try it!!!

    1. I would say building something out of food or taking a food apart and exploring it are great places to start with food play. There are lots of activity ideas in the activities pull down column on the right side of the blog! It sounds like possibly just taking the pressure of trying out of interacting with foods might help her try them. Also, pay attention to how much attention she’s getting for not trying something/how much attention she gets when you’re getting her to try it. You might try giving lots of attention to interacting a food and none to not trying it or not liking it. It’s a weird shift to make, but lots of kids really love the attention they get with the drama and will do other things (like try foods) to get it too! Good luck–I hope you find the activities fun and helpful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *