Looking for interesting ways to introduce your children to new foods? Today, we’re talking about the benefits of food play. Bond with your children while trying these creative and fun food activities for kids.
New foods can be scary for kids. We go from our infants and toddlers putting EVERY thing in their mouths.
Then comes the independent stage. And, all of a sudden you have a picky eater on your hands.
They don’t like certain textures or tastes. Maybe they are averse to trying new things.
The foods they loved last month they won’t eat today.
So what do you do about it, if you want to create some fun food activities for kids?
Let them play with their food! As a child, you may have been told not to do this.
But, what if I told you that playing with your food may be a great way to introduce new foods?
All of the above can even make them more inclined to try new foods! These are some of my favorite cooking activities for toddlers and they really work.
Here’s what we will discuss and showcase with food activities for kids and toddlers throughout this article.
Benefits of Food Play and Food Play Ideas
Sensory play with food may make your child willing to try new textures and flavors that are/were unfamiliar.
Allowing children to freely touch, see, and taste foods will take the pressure off—making eating a more enjoyable and relaxed experience.
You see – finger foods for toddlers provide nutrition, but also have other purposes!
Food activities tie in perfectly with baby-led weaning.
By letting your child play with their food, you’ll be fostering independence.
Food play allows your child to explore different foods in a unique and memorable way.
In fact, studies have shown that incorporating activities around food reduces the risk of pickiness.
So, not only may food play widen the variety of foods your child will eat, but your child will also have positive feelings around food.
This paves the way for a healthy relationship with food for you and kids.
How to Incorporate Fun Food Activities for Kids
Keeping food exciting and fun doesn’t mean you have to open up the fridge and let them have a free-for-all.
We don’t have all day to clean up food messes (even though there are days it seems that’s all we do!).
You can structure food play activities so that you can give your child the opportunity to explore—but keep some semblance of control.
Food play can be simple, like counting foods, like pistachios or any nut or seed.
Your child will likely be curious and want to eat said food, which is why I start with healthy options rather than chocolate chips.
For instance, while you are preparing your meal, set up a spot at the counter for them to play with the ingredients.
You’ll be cleaning up your mess anyway, so this is an easy way to expose them to new foods—and they’ll feel like they were part of the cooking process.
There are tools out there so that clean-up is a little easier.
You can let your child explore—without spending hours picking up the mess.
Food Activities for Toddlers
Toddlers are not the easiest group to feed, so let these food experiences for toddlers pick up some of the slack.
Food play for toddlers will give them the independence they crave.
When they have the autonomy to choose what they put in their mouths, it may surprise you what your child will try.
Here are some more food activities to try with your toddler.
Food Activities for Preschoolers
Preschoolers, especially, play like it’s their job. And so much learning is done through play.
They can use their imagination and develop creativity while playing with food.
Foster your preschooler’s love of play and learning with these preschool food activities.
This pinwheel sandwich recipe has it all! Use it as a fun edible art project … or as a special little lunch box surprise!
Choose basic peanut butter and jelly … or venture into our other creative filling ideas.
Allow your child to enjoy their imagination and dress up play with Goldfish® Princess crackers in this Butterfly Princess Wand craft.
This easy Greek yogurt unicorn recipe is a fun, colorful, healthy treat to make with the unicorn lover in your life.
Your kids will love this project – it’s so much fun to create edible art!
No-bake veggie pizzas are a fresh, exciting lunch or snack!
You can even ask your children to make faces based on how they feel to teach them emotions.
If your child likes rockets, he will love this fun sandwich!
Make this sandwich as a surprise or have fun making it together with your child.
This homemade playdough recipe is super easy and only uses 5 ingredients.
Kids can have fun both making and playing with this, making tons of fun creations year-round.
Energy balls incorporate different textures and are great for snacking.
Food Activities for Kids of All Ages
Have older kids? No need to stop playing!
Things are always changing with kids, especially their food preferences. You can raise intuitive eaters by continuing to make food interesting.
Kids of all ages can enjoy these food activities.
These healthy food activities for toddlers and kids should help pass the time and teach your family more about food.
Make sure to share with us some of your favorite fun food activities!
- How to get toddlers to eat veggies
- Lentil recipes for toddlers
- Egg recipes for kids
- Bean recipes for toddlers
- Healthy toddler snack ideas
- Nekitsing C, Blundell-Birtill P, Cockroft JE, Fildes A, Hetherington MM. Increasing Intake of an Unfamiliar Vegetable in Preschool Children Through Learning Using Storybooks and Sensory Play: A Cluster Randomized Trial. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019;119(12):2014-2027. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2019.05.017
- Garcia AL, Brown E, Goodale T, McLachlan M, Parrett A. A Nursery-Based Cooking Skills Programme with Parents and Children Reduced Food Fussiness and Increased Willingness to Try Vegetables: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Nutrients. 2020;12(9):2623. Published 2020 Aug 28. doi:10.3390/nu12092623