You sit down to dinner and your baby has more nutritious food in her arms than in her tummy. Should you let them play with their food or try to rein in the sweet potato finger painting? It turns out that playing with food is a normal, healthy developmental stage for a high chair. But why do children play with their food? And what are the benefits for their growing brains? Read on to find out. Playing with food helps kids learn to eat on their own.
Let your child fiddle with food and eventually he will figure out how to put it in his mouth. By 8-11 months, your baby may even begin to move away from spoon feeding in favor of self-gripping with a tong (an important new motor skill they need to transition to eating with their hands). So playing with food actually helps kids learn how to eat Cheerios or peas on their own. They won’t be able to use a spoon on their own until around 18-24 months of age, but with the help of their hands, they’ll do it faster! Playing with food can prevent picky eating.
If your child enjoys poking, squishing, and spanking their breakfast, chances are they’ll be more likely to eat and enjoy what you serve. This means that they are likely to be more inclined to try new and unexpected foods. Getting their hands a little dirty will help them explore new textures, strong flavors, and new food combinations.