It seems a natural habit to cringe when our kids start to play with their food. Whether they are toddlers or a little older, we often feel the need to correct and clean up when our kids start to put their hands in their food. However, letting kids play with their food can help to overcome pickiness and can encourage a healthier relationship with food.
Let Younger Children “Get to Know” Their Food
When children are young, the tendency to put their hands in food, put food on their bodies, and throw food is all part of them getting comfortable and familiar with food. Allowing children to experience food with all of their senses could actually help to prevent texture inhibitions and pickiness later on by showing them that food comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Kids may spit food out, too, but don’t be deterred. It is all part of getting used to different foods.
Encourage Fun with Food
Letting older children have fun with food can help to encourage a more extended palate as well. Kids love to eat food in different ways than usual, so letting them pile odd ingredients on pizza, eat fruit and veggies on popsicles sticks, or make scenes out of food can make it more fun to eat foods that may otherwise not be as appealing. Kids may also wish to try odd combos such as ketchup on broccoli or maple syrup on their steak. Let them! They may just find a combo that they enjoy and who cares how out of the ordinary it is?