Parents might find it frustrating to find children playing with their food instead of eating it, but it turns out that making a mess here and there could be good for kids’ development.
Playing with food helps children learn better and faster. A 2013 study by the University of Iowa found that children who poke, throw, feel and taste their food were more likely to name and identify different types of food correctly and more quickly than those who don’t mess around.
Dietitian Helen McIndoo told babycenter.com that through touch and play, children can learn about new objects and environments. “A little bit of squishing and squeezing and mixing and mashing, for example, teaches your child about the texture of different foods.”
Food exploration can also encourage children to have a more varied diet. A 2015 study by De Montfort University found that children who enjoy playing with their food are less likely to have a fear of new foods, or food neophobia. In short, allowing your children to have fun with food may make them less picky eaters.
“Parents might think less about pressuring or forcing their children to eat fruits and vegetables, and more about ways to foster fun, curiosity, and exploration,” nutrition researcher Myles Faith told Reuters.
Cooking with your little ones is fun, but often the kitchen environment can be quite dangerous for children to navigate around. Setting up a space that can manage both cookwork and kids’ play is quite a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that it is an impossible task. Here are a few tricks that you can apply for a safe, productive cooking time with your kids…
Have babies or toddlers who would be safer out of the kitchen? It might be a good idea to install baby gate/door to keep them away from walking or crawling in.
Want your children to keep away from fragile, sharp tools, but still allow them to help out? Put the priceless items and potentially dangerous appliances, such as microwave and oven, on higher shelves to make them less accessible to the little ones. Additionally, put the tools for easy activities (such as cookie cutters, icing sprouts) in a designated space in the cupboard/basket/storage unit, so that your children can remember where to take and put things back easily.
Adjust to Kids’ Height
Opt for furniture that accommodate the heights of both adults and children, such as two-level stands and benchtops. Otherwise, consider installing helping/stepping stool where children can stand on to help out.
More Security Add-Ons
Consider extra safety measures that will be helpful to adults and children alike, such as door stops, corner bumpers, drawer locks.
The Healthy Kids Association (HKA), one of the main players in keeping kids healthy in Australia, has put together their Core 4 Plus 1 rule, which helps parents structure kids lunchboxes the healthy way and still keep them interesting.
The HKA Core Lunch plan suggests that lunches be nutritious and filling. So that is the first part of the “core”, or the basic lunch.
Then they suggest the “core snack” which would come from a variety of the five food groups. This is followed by the “core fruit” which is where it becomes interesting for us. They suggest that the fruit be low fructose, like fruit or mixed berries.
From there, there is the “core drink.” The HKA suggests a water bottle.
So how about this for an idea: Investigate the value of watermelon juice, made from pressed watermelon. A superfood, it provides a lot of beneficial nutrition for children’s body. Or, pack two! It is filling and comes in its own organic portable bottles. And obviously, you could still add that water bottle.
This is finished off with the option of having an extra core snack for “active kids” in need of more energy.