#09 - Playing with Your Food Doesn't Have to Be So Hard

Feb 05, 2023
#09 - Playing with Your Food Doesn't Have to Be So Hard

Hello my friend, and welcome back to post #09 of the food explorers podcast. So last week I mentioned that J.R. would be coming on today to chat with you about his take on fruits as someone who doesn’t eat them.


But….fate intervened. If you follow me on Instagram @DrSamGoldman, you know that i was sick this past week, and then on the day we were supposed to record this podcast...J.R. got sick. Don’t you worry, I’m still bringing him on, but I’m giving him a week to recover, so he can be his full, animated self on the podcast with you. 


I didn’t want to leave you hanging this week, so instead today we’re going to talk all about sensory food play - because this is a subject that is surprisingly vulnerable for parents.


As feeding professionals we recommend it a lot, but many parents struggle here. But, by the end of this post I hope I have you feeling excited about it and ready to give it a shot.


So, over and over you’ve heard me us talk about food play, messy play, and sensory play. 


You’ve learned all about the steps to eating, and how this play shouldn’t only be based on touching with your hands, but also smelling, kissing, licking, and chewing.


But when it comes to actually doing it…you hesitate. 


Maybe it’s because you freeze up and can’t think of any ideas. Or maybe it’s because you feel silly, and just can’t get past that hump. Or maybe it's for a totally different reason. But food play feels hard. It feels like it takes a lot of time and mental energy.


But here’s the thing…I doesn’t have to. I know when you think of food play you think about those beautiful activities and food art on Pinterest. If that’s you, that’s great, I love it, and I’m sure your child will love that! 


But for many parent’s that not realistic - and that’s ok, because you really can do this simply too.

You can do this with no set up, and minimal energy, and today I am going to show you how.


For example, my sister recently told me she wanted to work on letters with her daughter and we were brainstorming some fun ways to do it.


I recommended getting the alphabet food cutters, and I could immediately see the fear in her eyes, thinking about how much time it would take to punch out every letter of the alphabet. After giggling a bit, I reminded her that it didn’t need to be that elaborate.


Instead, i asked - what if you literally just punched one letter into her piece of cheese or deli meat? Immediately my sister relaxed, and was like oh yeah I can do that. And then, she even took it a step further and realized - wait, I don’t even need to punch that letter into the food. My daughter would love it if SHE was the one doing it. And she’s right. They arrived in the mail this week, and my niece immediately was asking when she could play with them.


Now cheese and deli meat are both foods that are routinely offered in my nieces meals and snacks. So the only change being made is that my sister is also offering her a food cutter in the shape of a letter. This takes such minimal effort, and no extra set up at all. 


So these are the ways that I want you to think about food play. Now, it’s going to be a little bit different. Because your goal isn’t to learn letters, it’s to learn foods. 


But once you choose the food, all we need to do is decide and easy way to play with it. 


Because this is fruit month, let’s apply this back to fruit. 


Say you’re working on blueberries with your child. We already know you’re going to be presenting blueberries.

So what are some really simple food play ideas?

  1. You can have them make a letter of out it. For example, show your child how to create the first letter of their name using berries.
  2. Pretend the blueberry is your nose - hold it up and show them that you have a blue nose.
  3. Give them a cup, and have them use the cup to squish the berries. Remember, squishing is a great option for food play because it will help them know how the food will feel in their mouth once they chew it.
  4. Pretend the blueberry is a car and drive it on the table.
  5. Bounce it - see who can bounce it higher.


Now, of course, tools like food cutters, chopsticks, fun utensils, and kitchen tongs are going to make food a play a bit easier - because, they could even require less thought, and you can often hand these to your child and let their minds go wild, as long as you’re supervising.


What I want you to notice is that these food play ideas require minimal effort, minimal time, and minimal set up. They take literally 1-2 minutes of your time at the table, and they don’t require you to go outside of your comfort zone to be over the top silly.


My challenge for you today is to choose just one of these to try and the table. And see how your child responds when you challenge them to do one of these, instead of challenging them to take a bite. By the way, when you do this DM me @DrSamGoldman on instagram because I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Food play really is important. I mentioned it in episode #03, but kids learn through play. It’s how they understand the world. And the table is no different. So bringing this play to the table is a game changer improving their learning WHILE ditching mealtime battles and welcoming mealtime piece. 


But I know that thinking of ideas on the spot, really easy ideas, can be so challenging. And that’s why I have the BEST surprise for you today my friend. 🤩 🤩 🤩 


If you take the leap, and join the Food Explorers Membership this week, I am sharing an EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS with you. I am sharing my exclusive 101 ways to play with your food eBook with anyone who signs up in this next week. So until February 12, 2023.


This book has never been available to the public, is not available for download and after this week it goes back in the vault. 

All the 101 ideas are ideas just like the ones we discussed today. Easy, no set up, minimal effort ideas you can use at mealtime to help your child explore foods.

I actually recommend that you print it out and have it in the kitchen, so that when your child is feeling nervous about a food, and you need an idea, you can just pull it out really quickly.


So you do not want to miss this. Again it’s 101 Ways to Play with Your Food, and it’s only available until Sunday February 12 when you sign up for the Food Explorers Membership. Click here to join us today to get your free bonus, and finally start playing at the table with your child.

You’ll be so happy when you do, because instead of fighting at the table you’ll be creating memories together.

So that’s all for today, hopefully next week I will be back with J.R., all recovered, and ready to share his take on fruits. Bye!



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