Playing with food... or not? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-13-2012, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you allow your toddler to play with his/her food? Do you play with them with their food, if they ask?

 

I'm all for imaginative play, and interactive play, so part of me loves that my son (26 months) turns his french toast into trucks and his grapes into dinosaurs, and wants me to join in. But if I encourage this now, will I regret it later? I want him to have good associations with meals. It's just the two of us, so it can get pretty boring for him.

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#2 of 8 Old 04-13-2012, 03:02 PM
 
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We're really chilled out about mealtimes and food, so, yes.  I don't make him sit down to eat, if he wants out of the high chair after two minutes that's fine, if he wants to take two hours to eat dinner that's fine.  I really can't speak to whether or not you might regret it later, but you could also regret making a battle out of it or discouraging imaginative play.  I don't think it's inappropriate for a 2 year old to play with his food, but some people do.  When he gets older he will be able to understand table manners and you can teach him that it isn't okay to play with food at a restaurant, or whatever.  I say, let him have fun!  Don't stifle that imagination!  




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#3 of 8 Old 04-13-2012, 07:38 PM
 
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I definitely let my 2 year old daughter do some playing with her food - as long as there's some eating going on, too.  If I don't catch it in time, the play turns into a crazy throwing of everything off of her tray.  It's kind of like choosing the right moment to take popcorn out of the microwave...

 

We listen to a lot of music while we eat, and that definitely helps with the boring mommy/baby meals.  I reserve her "kid" CD's for meals when it's just the two of us.

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#4 of 8 Old 04-18-2012, 06:01 PM
 
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I don't have a problem with playing with food either, especially in the imaginative way that your describing.  The one thing that drives me crazy though is when it just goes flying or dropped on the floor.  It's at that point, that there's no eating actually happening and she's just making a mess that we end meal time, but I think if he's enjoying himself, and getting some bites in between, then that's great.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-19-2012, 12:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by luckiest View Post

We're really chilled out about mealtimes and food, so, yes.  I don't make him sit down to eat, if he wants out of the high chair after two minutes that's fine, if he wants to take two hours to eat dinner that's fine.  I really can't speak to whether or not you might regret it later, but you could also regret making a battle out of it or discouraging imaginative play.  I don't think it's inappropriate for a 2 year old to play with his food, but some people do.  When he gets older he will be able to understand table manners and you can teach him that it isn't okay to play with food at a restaurant, or whatever.  I say, let him have fun!  Don't stifle that imagination!  

 


I feel the same way.

 

I also agree that when it gets too messy and he's obviously done eating, we clean up and it's over. Lucky for me he sometimes even like helping clean up, I guess seeing it all get wiped up is just as exciting as smearing it around!

 

Children learn from watching us eat and have table (as well as other social) manners. We don't need to forbid playing with food, which is a natural curiosity and exploration, in order for them to learn table manners. They learn that from us modelling it, plain and simple. I am of the belief that explicitly teaching manners like forcing kids to say thank you and sorry is teaching inauthenticity and that they will learn all of that from seeing us model it.


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#6 of 8 Old 04-19-2012, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to everyone! I guess the part I am most unsure about is when he wants me to play with food with him. I'm all about interactive play, so away from the table I try to join in when he requests it unless I'm truly busy with something that can't wait. But in a food situation it feels odd to join in, for whatever reason, but I imagine he may be confused by my inconsistency - mommy will play with me on the floor, but why not at the table? The times it's come up I've said something like, yes that is a cool truck; mommy doesn't play with food.

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#7 of 8 Old 04-19-2012, 08:07 PM
 
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I don't like my ds to play with food too much because it always makes a big mess and I am the one who cleans it up. I already clean a ton as it is- and am pretty much the only one in my household who cleans. I find that when he starts playing with his food he is usually done eating  so I try to take the food away ad offer something else to play with. I sometimes let him do it for a short while but then I just take it away and dont make a big deal out of it.

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#8 of 8 Old 04-21-2012, 04:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by baltmom View Post

Thanks to everyone! I guess the part I am most unsure about is when he wants me to play with food with him. I'm all about interactive play, so away from the table I try to join in when he requests it unless I'm truly busy with something that can't wait. But in a food situation it feels odd to join in, for whatever reason, but I imagine he may be confused by my inconsistency - mommy will play with me on the floor, but why not at the table? The times it's come up I've said something like, yes that is a cool truck; mommy doesn't play with food.

 

In this situation I just say in a real friendly, non-judgy / shaming tone, something like : "No thanks, I like playing with toys in the living room." and maybe, if the meal is pretty much over: "Shall we go play in the living room?". I don't think consistency is important here because there is a distinction that he eventually will understand and get: the table is for eating, the floor is for playing. You don't need to say that because he needs to play wherever he goes for now, but when he's ready he'll see that difference and stop smearing his food all over orngtongue.gif  You are modelling that for him by not getting too engaged with food play. But I would stop there because too much more emphasis on "we don't do that" and you're cutting off his natural curiosity and exploratory instincts.


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