We’re back today with our sponsor Ella’s Kitchen giving you the low down on how to set up a food exploration station for your baby.
The idea is a simple one – let baby learn about and build an interest in food through all of his or her senses, including touch! By encouraging your baby to explore new foods tactilely, you’re helping to foster their interest in food in general and to grow adventurous and healthy eaters.
That’s a goal both Ella’s Kitchen and MPMK can get behind – for even more great ideas, check out our collaborative pinterest board: Tiny Taste Bud Adventures.
Did you know that sensory input begins from the very beginning when you first swaddle your baby in a blanket? Babies actually rely on sensory input to satisfy their reflexes. And, as they grow, they start to respond to and organize that sensory input. It’s amazing how much is happening in the first year of life.
At this stage, babies need stimulation. They use it to learn about their world. Incoming sensory information comes in these forms: touch, taste, sound, sight, smells, vestibular input (the body’s position in space), and proprioceptive input (sensations from muscles and joints).
Today we’re going to focus on touch, taste, sound, sight and smell through a simple high chair activity. Not only will this help baby learn about her world, but also to:
Learn about food and start down the path of good nutrition and adventurous eating.
We started by creating three unique experiences (all prep work was done ahead of time) and introduced them one at a time.
Sensory Food Play Activity #1: Sorting & Stacking
First, seasonal fruit was cut into squares and balls so that baby could easily stack them. We used cantaloupe, mango, oranges, pears, apples and bananas.
A little dice work and a melon baller are the only tools needed. After taking some time to stack the fruit, we started sorting by colors and shapes in an ice cube tray.
The colors, textures, smells and even our words describing the fruit all made her senses come alive. You can see the curiosity and excitement as she explores with her hands and mouth.
Sensory Food Play Activity #2: Exploring Slippery Foods
For the next activity, we used pasta and boiled eggs. Sometimes little palettes don’t enjoy slippery/slimy textures. By first exploring them with her hands and smelling the food, she slowly learned about these new textures.
We used a spinach pasta to add color as well as a bit more texture and nutrition than traditional white flour pasta.
Sensory Food Play Activity #3: Painting with Purees
Finger-painting is something that even the pickiest eater will get into. Ella’s Kitchen squeezers provide the perfect ‘paint.’ We put a few drops on the tray and let her start to touch and taste it.
Seconds later, she was using the squeezers herself. She added to the paint and was up to her elbows in yummy fruits and vegetables!
Using food to learn about the world is not only stimulating, it’s soothing. Sensory play can often provide comfort for a cranky baby. Remember, babies rely on their senses to organize what they are learning. So go ahead, take an hour and get the high chair a little messy!
And don’t forget to check out the other baby play ideas we collaborated with Ella’s Kitchen on:
Adventurous eaters aren’t born, they become that way with practice. Let’s start them young with healthy eating habits.
Thanks again to Ella’s Kitchen for sponsoring this series and helping modern parents everywhere to raise healthy eaters. For even more great ideas, be sure to check them out via:
- Ella’s Kitchen Facebook Page
- Ella’s Kitchen Google+ Page
- Ella’s Kitchen Twitter Page
- Ella’s Kitchen Pinterest Page
- Ella’s Kitchen YouTube Page