Picking the Perfect First Food for Food Play Fun!

Picking the Perfect First Food for Food Play Fun!

Hello again! As an occupational therapist specializing in pediatric feeding, I understand the overwhelming nature of introducing new foods, especially when faced with the vast array of options available in today's market. When parents try to introduce food play into their routine, one of the biggest questions that we face is: "Well.... Which food do I even TRY to expose them to?" Rest assured, I'm here to provide guidance and support every step of the way. Together, we'll break down the barriers and embark on a journey of exploration that empowers both you and your child to embrace new culinary adventures.

Let's consider Max, a lively 6-year-old boy, as our example. We'll explore how to begin with his preferred foods to determine the best options for introducing new ones! 

Step 1: Take Inventory Together

Begin by collaborating with your child to create a list of foods they currently enjoy. This activity can be a fun and interactive way to involve them in the process. Encourage them to share their favorite foods, snacks, and beverages, noting any common themes or patterns. 

Example of Favorite Foods List:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Sliced apples
  • Peanut butter crackers

Step 2: Identify Similarities

Next, discuss the sensory components of the foods on their list. Explore similarities in terms of taste, texture, color, and presentation. This discussion can help both you and your child better understand their food preferences and provide insight into potential new foods to try.

Example of a Sensory Analysis:

  • Creamy textures (macaroni and cheese, peanut butter)
  • Crunchy textures (chicken nuggets, crackers)
  • Sweet flavors (sliced apples)
  • Visual appearance are bland colors (macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, chicken nuggets, crackers, and apples)

Step 3: Introduce New Options

Based on the sensory analysis, work together to select new foods that share similarities with your child's preferred options. Be open to experimenting with different variations and preparations to find what resonates with them. Remember, exposure and repetition are key to building acceptance of new foods.

Example of New Food Options:

  • Creamy hummus for dipping, similar to peanut butter texture and similar to the bland food choices
  • Baked sweet potato fries for a crunchy alternative to chicken nuggets
  • Sliced asian pear for a sweet twist on sliced apples, while also maintaining the beige/white color profile

Step 4: Create Positive Experiences

As you introduce new foods, focus on creating positive eating experiences for your child. Involve them in meal preparation, explore different serving presentations, and offer praise for their willingness to try new things. You can even try some food play with the new foods! Keep exploration of new foods stress-free and enjoyable, emphasizing the importance of listening to their body's hunger and fullness cues.

Example of Mealtime Adventures:

  • Letting your child help spread hummus on crackers or dip sliced veggies.
  • Making sweet potato fries together and arranging them on the plate in a fun pattern.
  • Creating a fruit salad with sliced strawberries and other favorite fruits for a colorful dessert.
Example of Food Play Ideas:
  • Spread a layer of hummus on each shape and let your child use colorful vegetables, such as thinly sliced cucumbers, radishes, or bell peppers, to stamp designs onto the hummus canvas.
  • Utilizing the food play stamps, imprint two identical designs using Asian pears. Subsequently, submerge the sliced pears in water and challenge them to retrieve two designs and match them together, creating a playful "pairing" activity (get it hehe).
  • Cut cooked sweet potatoes into puzzle-like pieces and mix them up on a plate. Encourage your child to rearrange the pieces to form the original sweet potato shape, enhancing their problem-solving skills and fine motor coordination.
    Down to try the food play? Follow us on instagram at @pickyeatingexperts and continue to follow our blog post for more information!
    Back to blog

    Leave a comment