Why You Should Let Kids Play With Their Food

Want your kids to try new foods? Allow them to use all of their senses when eating, even if things get messy.

"Don't play with your food" is as old a dinner table rule as "Don't chew with your mouth open". But you may want to rethink that policy, especially for picky eaters. Letting kids use all of their senses to explore new foods gives them positive food experiences and encourages them to--yes!--eventually taste foods they’re initially skeptical of.

In a study published in Public Health Nutrition, researchers from Finland describe "sensory-based food education" programs that are common in preschools there. The programs include activities like preparing salads, growing vegetables in a garden or on a windowsill, taking field trips to pick berries, and participating in "sensory sessions" where children touch, listen, taste, and smell different kinds of foods—then share observations with each other. Full Story

By Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD