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Food Activities for Toddlers

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.

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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. 

Note: This is when we focused on those healthy toddler breakfast ideas to frontload our picky eater’s nutrition!

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?

Making food fun for kids adds a layer of happiness for all!

kid playing with spaghetti

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?

Food play can be a great way to expose toddlers to toddler veggie recipes without making them seem “ewww.”

These cooking activities for toddlers and food-themed activities for kids can spark creativity and curiosity, and help your kids learn more about food.

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.

toddler playing with kale

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!

sweet potato wedges for baby led weaning

Food activities tie in perfectly with baby-led weaning.

By letting your child play with their food, you’ll be fostering independence. And have a realistic amount of what they will eat – here are some healthy toddler meal ideas!

Food play allows your child to explore different foods in a unique and memorable way.

counting with peppers on paper

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 about food.

This paves the way for a healthy relationship with food for you and kids.

arts and crafts

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.

counting pistachios on paper with toddlers
Counting food objects can be an educational, fun food activity for toddlers.

Your child will likely be curious and want to eat said food, which is why I start with healthy options rather than chocolate chips.

Or, helping you mix the batter for some Thanksgiving snacks for kids or even adding ingredients to the blender for a toddler smoothie they can make themselves!

Carrot banana smoothie in kids smoothie cups with straw
Enjoy or take on the go

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.

toddler making baby led weaning sweet potato muffins

These bibs, splat mats, and ezpz placemats make cleaning a breeze.

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 Kids

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! One of our favorite easy summer lunches for kids!

Choose basic peanut butter and jelly … or venture into our other creative filling ideas.

pinwheel sandwiches on kabobs

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.

greek yogurt bark for kids

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.

veggie face pizzas

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.

colorful homemade playdough

Energy balls incorporate different textures and are great for snacking.

We rely on so many oatmeal bite recipes to pass our afternoons, like chocolate almond balls and lemon protein bites.

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. 

Food Activities for Kids of All Ages

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!

References:

  • 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
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