I‘ve mentioned before the importance of food play and exploration. For all the newbie parents and the veterans out there, I want to give a really brief description of the Stages of Developmental Food Play (DFP). This role of DFP serves a critical role in your child’s relationship with food. It will seem annoying when they’re spitting food out, throwing it from the table and pouring drinks out of their cup BUT, it’s a developmental stage of eating!
I’m hoping this developmental acknowledgment will help parents better understand and deal with some of the messy and annoying things their kids do with their food. Be prepared because your kids will do these things and your reaction can make it a positive learning event or a negative experience with food.
1. Smooshing, smearing, spitting and wearing. 6months-18 months
2. Throwing, crumbling, wearing. 12 months-20 months
3. Pouring 2-3 years old
4. Cutting and manipulating 3-4 years old
Remember after 6 months of age feeding is a learned behavior. Your behavior and language toward food is directly absorbed by your children. If you say ‘eww’ to broccoli, they will say ‘eww’ to broccoli.
Acknowledging the stages of Developmental Food Play (DFP) empowers you as a parent with strategies to use when your child refuses to eat something. During my feeding therapy sessions, teaching parents about DFP is one of the critical pieces to success. Modeling and providing your child with tools such as plastic knives (supervised) and pouring cups opens the door for your child to interact with new and non preferred foods.