I wanted to foray into the world of edible sensory food play with Baby Gwen for the longest time, since she's become unstoppable at putting everything into her mouth. Food naturally came to mind, because it's edible (I'm tired of screening toys for BPA) and could actually help her engage with food better and accept textures and smells at mealtimes.
I read up on food sensory play and found that there're heaps of benefits for babies and toddlers to engage in such messy play!
Benefits of food sensory play
- Help children experience not only tactile sensations but also develop new tastes and become attuned to varying sights and smells of different foods
- Learn cause and effect
- Explore different shapes and colours
- Promote independent play
- Refine motor skills (so children may have more ease grasping and writing when older)
I didn't want to perpetuate the message that food is abundant and therefore we could play with it because there are parts of the world where people live in hunger. It's disrespectful to waste food.
Therefore I decided to use unseasoned noodles that would eventually constitute my own dinner in my first ever sensory play activity with Gwen. I believe with experience and trial and error, I'll be able to portion-control the next time to minimise waste even more.
I cleaned my floor thoroughly so I could pick food off it to eat after Gwen was done!
Steps to using noodles for edible sensory play
- Prepare baby-friendly, unbreakable containers to place the food. I used a huge metal bowl and a flat wooden board just to see how baby Gwen reacted to each vessel.
(Gwen spinned the metal bowl and it hit the floor with a jarring clash. She got a shock and became reluctant to play with it further so I swapped it out for my second vessel, a flat wooden board.)
- Boil the noodles in water till semi-soft. Not too soft such that they break into pieces when you handle them, yet not too hard for baby to chew through if she samples it.
(I chose organic pasta and vermicelli rice noodles because of their difference in texture and colour. Because I meant to have the noodles as my own dinner after Gwen was done with the sensory play, I didn't add food colouring to enhance the sensorial experience. You could create rainbow coloured noodles for a colourful experience.
I found that adding a teaspoon of vegetable oil into the boiling water prevented the noodles from becoming sticky. Alternatively, you could also douse the noodles in cool water after they've been boiled for a more springy texture.)
Sieve the water out and pat the noodles dry before placing them in the containers.
You could stick a reusable plastic sheet onto the floor before letting your little one play with food so it's easier to clean up. You could also put on a coverall bib apron for your little one (or the weather's warm enough, let her play in diapers and wash her up afterwards.)
Baby Gwen's reaction to her first edible sensory play
Gwen was excited when she approached the metal bowl with noodles and eagerly dug her fingers in. She also spent some time tilting and flipping the metal bowl so that the contents could slide out.
Eventually she figured she preferred the rice vermicelli noodles to pasta and started to pick them out to exclusively play with them. I reckoned she disliked the rubbery texture of the pasta.
It was interesting to see Gwen pulling the strands up to see how far they can go and then examining the noodles like a little scientist. She broke them into shorter strands, tasted them, mashed them onto the wooden board, covered her legs with noodles and even stuck some on the kitchen cabinets.
Gwen also swung the rice vermicelli noodles into the air like a Chinese noodle master and was delighted to see them in projectile motion. It was fascinating to see how basic foods like noodles could providing such diverse reactions and fun moments.
Try edible sensory food play and let me know how you find it! Send me ideas on how to minimise food wastage too on our instagram at miraculove_sg via Instagram Direct Message or or Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.