Play with food! Our parents drummed into us that food is for eating and NOT for playing with. But now we know that mealtimes can be an incredible opportunity for our babies to explore, learn and have fun with their food.
“Stop playing with your food!” It used to drive my mum and dad crazy when I’d dig my fingers into my dinner and squish the soft noodles before popping them into my mouth. But now, I encourage my bub to do exactly that. She has full (messy) reign to play with food and fully investigate the textures, taste, colour and smell of her snacks before eating them.
We all know that kids love to play. So by making mealtimes fun, the stress of getting your child to eat is so much less. Kids can learn heaps from pressure-free playful interactions with food! By playing with their food, children are learning about textures, temperatures, colours, sounds, smells and tastes and developing a more relaxed and positive association with a variety of food.
Play With Food Games Make Mealtimes Fun
As a new mum, I was a bit clueless about how to include ‘play with food’ games into our routine. Thank goodness the experts at Baby Bellies came to the rescue.
I love that the Baby Bellies range is designed to encourage my bub to play. Baby Bellies has a wide range of super shapes, textures and flavours made with organic baby-friendly ingredients, perfect for babies from 7+ months and 10+ months. The Baby Bellies range encourages babies to learn about new foods and is designed to help develop their motor skills at every feeding stage. Every rusk, puff and bite goes melty soft once nibbled, making them perfect for safe self-feeding as they grow.
The Bellies team has been working with Natural Feeding Advocate Simone Emery to develop a host of games, tips and hacks designed to get little fingers playing with all food groups.
My bub and I are having so much fun playing these games during mealtimes. Since we’ve introduced ‘play with food’ games, my baby is so much more agreeable to try new flavours, her pincer grip has improved in leaps and bounds and she smiles and giggles all the way through her meal.
Some of our favourite Play With Food Games are:
The Baby Bellies Organic Rusks are perfect for teething. But that’s not all they are great for! Pair an Organic Rusk with age-appropriate dip like yoghurt or mashed avocado to introduce yummy new flavours into your babies’ diet. Your bub may also find this is an easier step towards self-feeding than using a spoon. Using a Rusk as a dipper is also great for familiarity and also variety. Here, bub is using a familiar food – the rusk – to investigate a new food. This helps to build contextual familiarity. The context in this case is that the rusk can be used as a spoon replacement. Here we also build on taste variety by providing different dips for the rusk. Having a familiar food with the meal reduces how much work is required for them to try.
Stand up Sticks
Stand the Baby Bellies Pick-up Sticks in a dollop of mashed sweet potato as a motor planning challenge for little fingers and hands. Firstly, steam a portion of sweet potato and mash it to a smooth but pliable consistency and pop a dollop on a plate. Next, model sticking the organic sweet potato pick-up stick into the mash so that it stands upright on its own. Lastly, provide another pick-up stick to your mini-mover to see if they imitate your play. During this process, you are helping your baby’s little fingers learn the weight sensation of the pick-up stick, which prepares your baby for self-feeding tasks.
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For a game full of learning (and eating), use our crisp, organic Blueberry Puffs and help your little one hit blueberries into a cup. Who will score the most points? Your baby most likely won’t be able to do it all themselves, but that’s ok! You can still share the experience of learning to play, and playing to learn. This fun activity is designed to improve spatial awareness and pincer grip with a repeated ‘picking up’ of the blueberries and puffs. It also improves spatial awareness by learning how to manoeuvre the cup, blueberries and puff.
This game is perfect for giving your little one as it helps them to start verbalising what they are seeing and feeling. Tangible words for food are easier for them to understand than more abstract concepts like ‘yummy’, ‘yucky’ and ‘nice’. All you will need to do is empty a packet of Baby Bellies Organic Nibblers, use hand-over-hand motions to point and name each Nibbler shape slowly and wait for your little one to try too! To make it a little more advanced and about more than just the snack shapes themselves, take a few of the Nibblers and make even more shapes.
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Connecting Over Food
With games like these, I’m doing my best to change the way my parents made me feel about food. With introducing play with food fun into mealtimes, my bub and I are connecting over our mutual love of food. Yes, there’s a bit of mess to clean up after but the giggles are absolutely worth it.
What ‘play with food’ games do you play with your kids? Tell us in the comments below.
The team at Mouths of Mums is working with the Bellies team to bring you this article. We love that the Bellies brand ethos is ‘Do What’s Natural’ and that their focus is on supporting natural child development with their age-appropriate wholesome snacks for all stages of child development and through the concept of Playing with Food. Check out the full Bellies range at bellies.com.au.
Want to know what other mums think about the Bellies range? See MoM Members reviews and ratings in our Pre Shop Directory here – or if you’ve tried products from Bellies yourself, jump across to see Bellies in our Rate It Directory and Rate and Review the products for yourself … don’t forget there’s always MoM Member rewards points up for grabs too!