Mealtimes and snack times can get messy but, with every mouthful, your baby is learning something new!

Tasting fresh flavours and feeling different textures helps your little one to build up their preferences of what they like or dislike. As they learn to pick up food or cutlery, and feed themselves, they're strengthening their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills too.

Exploring food is an important part of your baby’s development that can lead to much more than just the crumbs left behind! Here are three easy ways to play and learn with your baby during mealtimes or snack times:

1. Use All of Your Senses!

You could try introducing your baby to different foods, even before they’re old enough to eat them, by letting them touch and play with foods that have a peel or skin, like potatoes, carrots or lemons.

Discover together how the items look, feel and smell. What colour is it? Does it smell fruity or earthy? Does it feel rough or smooth? Using descriptive words like these will begin to build your baby’s language and encourage them to use all of their senses, when they’re old enough to try new foods.

2. Chance to Chat!

Have fun chatting to your little one about what you can see on their plate. It’s a great way to stimulate their imagination and get them excited about what they’re eating.

You could arrange the items to look like a funny face, an animal, or a tree. Make sure you use foods that are safe for your baby to explore, like chopped banana, peas or small chunks of cheese, and stay with them as they eat.

Chatty conversations like this at mealtimes and snack times, can encourage curiosity and openness to trying new foods, and it creatively feeds those hungry little minds.

3. Picnic Party!

Eating together is a great way of keeping your baby happy and interested in their food.  

If your baby is a little older, you could have a picnic party. Gather some soft toys, then lay out plates and cups for everyone, and all dine together.

This is a great opportunity for your baby to repeat words as you play, so try to be really vocal and say words like ‘yum’ or ‘more’. What a fun way to turn an everyday situation into a tasty boredom buster!

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