Yes! You should let kids play with their food! 


This article discusses the benefits of playing with food for picky eaters, what food play for picky eaters is, and shares ideas for how kids can play with food. 



“Don’t play with your food” is a mealtime rule that’s worth reconsidering, especially if you have a  picky eater at home. 

When kids play with food they’re using all of their senses to explore and are creating positive experiences that can encourage them to eventually taste foods – without any prompting or coercion.

What Is Food Play For Picky Eaters

Food play for picky eaters is a positive, fun interaction with food. It can be creative, messy, and seems just like playtime.

Food play involves no pressure to eat or even engage with food in any particular way.

When children engage all of their senses and have fun with food, they are building their curiosity and comfort level, which helps them try new foods. 




4 Reasons Why You Should Let Kids Play With Their Food 


Playing with Food Can Lead to Eating

Research shows that positive food interactions and repeated exposures to new foods increase both a child’s willingness to eat and the likelihood that they will enjoy a new food once they do eat. Many picky eaters are too fearful of new foods to eat them right away. If they can play with food in a way that feels comfortable for them first, they can slowly build up their confidence to eat. 


Allows them to Interact in a Way They Feel Comfortable

Even though a picky eater may not be ready to eat a new food, they might be ready to engage with it in a different way and have those positive interactions that are so important. Play is an easier entry point than eating and gives a child a win that can boost their confidence with new foods.


Creates Positive Food Experiences

For extremely picky eaters, everything about food can be intimidating. They might be scared or have bad memories of times they’ve eaten something in the past they didn’t like. Playing with food gives children the chance to replace negative experiences with positive ones. When children feel better about food overall, they are more likely to want to eat.


Teaches What to Expect When They Do Eat 

When children use their senses to explore and play with food, they are learning what it will be like when they eventually eat. This information helps them feel more comfortable and ready to eat new foods.



Playing with Food Ideas for Picky Eaters 


By now you know that you should let kids play with their food. But you’re still wondering how. Try these playing with food ideas for kids.


15 Fun Food Play Ideas For Picky Eaters

5 Fun Spring Sensory Food Play Ideas to Help Picky Eater

Fun Fall Food Activities for Picky Eaters

Fun Winter Food Activities for Picky Eaters

10 Fun and Easy Ways to Garden with a Picky Eater

30 + Ways Picky Eaters Can Play with Food



Food play for picky eating is a creative and fun way to help children want to try new foods. Food play is a way for picky eaters to engage all of their senses and have fun with food, while simultaneously building their curiosity and comfort level. 



Encourage food play outside of mealtimes with your picky eater at least once a week. Use the Playing with Food Ideas for Picky Eaters above for fun options on how you can help your child play with food regardless of where they are with their picky eating.