Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Creative Fun With Finger Foods

I don't think that little ones care much about food presentation at the beginning of their weaning journey but it is a great idea for when they grow older.

Being creative and playful with food is great for little ones growing up as they try new foods for the first time and start learning to feed themselves. The challenge for parents can be how to introduce variety and come up with new ideas to present food that will help make it fun for their little ones.

Creative fun with finger foods - helps little ones try something new and learn to feed themselves
In a new survey from Organix, mums rated the top two things to encourage a positive attitude towards food as making mealtimes fun for your child (76%) and allowing your child to play with and experiment with their food (75%).

Finger foods are a great way of offering variety to your child, as they provide a whole new world of exciting tastes, textures, shapes and colours to your baby, in foods that are easy for them to grab and get hold of so they feel more in control of their choices.

Playing with finger foods helps little ones learn

Mixing up textures, shapes and colours and encouraging little ones to play and experiment with food helps them gather sensory information and learn how to accept new foods.

From chewy pasta, to crispy rice cakes, melt in the mouth corn puffs, crumbly baby biscuits and squishy strawberries, you can offer lots of texture choices to help develop your baby's curiosity about food and build their confidence and enjoyment.

Unlike in the old days when parents told their little ones off for playing with their food, modern mums see the positive benefits of encouraging little ones to play with their food and have fun:
86% feel it's important for babies to handle and play with new foods before they taste it.
93% feel it's important to let a baby play with and experiment with food.
93% recognise that the first year of a baby's life is about fun - playing with food and developing skills.

Dr Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix , says, “The introduction of finger foods can help to develop a little one's sense of independence, and parents can encourage a positive attitude to food by making mealtimes fun for their child and allowing them to play with and experiment with their food.”

Frankie explains that as well as encouraging self-feeding, independence and autonomy,finger foods come with lots of other benefits for little ones, like developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, and improving dexterity.

The variety of colours, shapes and sizes of finger foods also gives little ones a range of sensory experiences. Psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin says, “This is important asbabies learn through their senses in the first two years of life. So when you introduce a new food to your child, by giving them an opportunity to touch it, squish it and rub it between their hands, you are allowing them to use all of the resources they have to learn about that food.”

Fun finger food plates –getting creative to help little ones explore food

Why not add some fun with a creative finger food plate, you can mix up purees with finger food so your baby has a choice of tastes, textures and shapes to explore. Don't worry you don't have to have an art degree just a little imagination and a little help from Organix!

Try these fun ideas: trees made with Organix carrot sticks as the trunk, vegetable florets for the branches, an Organix sweetcorn ring for the sun and mashed avocado for the grass; a caterpillar made with Organix carrot & tomato rice cakes and pieces of salad and vegetables; or an Organix baby biscuit bird, with banana wings, flying over a blueberry sea. And you could always make up a rhyme or song to sing along with each creation to make it more fun.

For lots more advice on finger foods and recipes please visit Organix. As your little one grows you'll find inspiration for different finger foods in the Organix Little Book of Weaning – you can sign up to download your free copy at here.

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