FOOD PLAY is key to most feeding therapy programs, and is a great way to unlock success with your picky eaters at home.

Playing with food away from the table (without the pressure to eat) offers your child the opportunity to look at, touch, smell, and (hopefully) taste challenging foods while having fun. De-sensitizing with a smile = success!

I recommend FOOD PLAY at least one time a week at home (for problem feeders, picky eaters, and any child looking for something fun to do). The more frequent, the better!

Here are 10 ways to PLAY WITH FOOD at home:

The boys and I did four of these yesterday, had a ton of fun, got messy, learned, and tasted!! (And as a bonus, these activities kept them occupied for a good hour– which is tough at the end of a long winter break!)

  • Digging in Beans: Get ready to dig, lift, dump, and pour. Fill a pan with dried beans, noodles, or rice and get your trucks out. The boys were crazy about this one! Liam even tried a bean– raw, so not exactly what I wanted him to eat, but I was happy he was encouraged to try something new!

  • Veggie Stamps: Passion for Paper and Print has the best idea– vegetable stamps! Get your little one to touch new veggies while making beautiful art. Win win!

  • Jewelry Making: Who doesn’t love art you can wear?! Grab a string for your older child, pipe cleaner for your little one, and any food with a hole– then start threading! This is great for fine motor skills too!

  • Pudding Paint: Paint with pudding or yogurt, any color, any flavor. Spread a tarp on the floor and use kitchen utensils like Busy Toddler or use paper plates and fingers. Either way, it’s sure to be loads of fun for your little ones!

  • Rainbow Toast: Painting on food you can eat– how fun is that!! Head over to Learn Play Imagine for instructions.

How to make rainbow toast - edible milk paint recipe

  • Shape Matching: Simple, quick and easy. Trace your target foods, then ask your child to start matching. I couldn’t believe how much they enjoyed this, and even worked together to finish it! Keegan has never touched raw spinach, but he did it here with ease!

  • Rainbow Spaghetti: Color your pasta and play! Head to Laughing Kids Learn for details on how to make these adorable noodles come to life.

  • Learning Letters: Use Elmer’s Glue to draw a letter (we did the first letters of their names), take out a variety of food, and decorate. Keegan was so proud of his finished product!

  • Making Soup: Use water and fresh veggies, give your little one a bowl and spoon, and ask them to make their own “soup”! On Happy Hooligans they use herbs from the garden– the kids look like they’re having a blast!

  • Play Doh Jungle: Give your child store bought (or homemade if you’re feeling adventurous) play doh, raw vegetables, and toy animals, and help them build their very own jungle. The Nuture Store made theirs to target imaginative play and storytelling!

Get out there and start to PLAY WITH FOOD! And let me know how it goes!


-Catherine Callahan, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC