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Is it Okay for My Toddler to Play With Her Food?

I’d rather keep meal time as neat as possible, but my partner lets my toddler mess around with her food. Who’s right?

Re:

I’d rather keep meal time as neat as possible, but my partner lets my toddler mess around with her food. Who’s right?

The Bump Expert

Yes, it’s okay for your toddler to play with her food -- but within reason. Toddlers are experiential learners, so resist the urge to interfere when your child pulls apart, smells or smashes a new food. That’s how they learn! As hard as it may be, it’s best not to comment at all. (Resist the urge to roll your eyes too!) Remember, it’s completely normal for kids to play with their food before trying it, and it may take a couple of tries before your child gets the food anywhere near her mouth. Letting her play around and experiment with it is the first step to acceptance.

If meal time turns into non-stop playtime, though, it’s time to set some limits. Most kids will start playing with (and tossing) their food when they’re done eating, so if your toddler suddenly starts slinging the oatmeal she was slurping up just a few minutes ago, it’s time to end the meal. Calmly remove the food, clean her up, take her away from the table and hand her some toys. Soon, she’ll get the idea that food is for eating and that playtime is for toys.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How Can I Get My Toddler to Eat His Veggies?

Finger Foods for Baby

Recipes for One-Year and Up

Elizabeth Pantley, parenting expert and author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution, and The No-Cry Discipline Solution

Is it Okay for My Toddler to Play With Her Food?

My belief is that children should be allowed to play with food, but within reasonable time limits. As I told my babe, she can play with any kind of food as long as it's not donper soft serve machines. Let him experience what's good in life, but make sure he also eats, too!

CheyanneEdith |

Is it Okay for My Toddler to Play With Her Food?

It's good that your child has imagination, try not to ruin that now, because the educational system will do it later for you, anyway. My little girl always plays with what I buy from donper. It must be something about the way the food looks, I don't know.

jessicanaoko |

Is it Okay for My Toddler to Play With Her Food?

My son used to play with food and I let him do that until meal time turned into "non-stop playtime", it was hard to teach him that what he was doing was bad but after a lot of tries I managed to teach him not to play anymore with his food: I would not give him his favorite yoghurt if he would play with the food. When the frozen yoghurt vending machine malfunctioned I had to travel 8 miles to another machine to get him his favorite desert, luckily the vending machine needed Haynes Lubrifilm to work properly and it was repaired very quickly.

amyabel68 |