Let’s talk about why it’s important to (at least sometimes) let our kids get messy when they eat!
Judy describes messy eating as a short-term nuisance that yields long-term developmental and feeding benefits. It’s so important!
The more a child can touch and feel a food in their hands, the more likely they are to eventually eat it in their mouths. If we discourage them from getting messy, they may stop eating altogether because they aren’t developmentally capable of feeding themselves in a tidy way until they get much older.
Plus, when we let kids get messy we are building their tolerance and acceptance of food on their hands and skin. Think about how a toddler bites into a PBJ sandwich - it gets all over their cheeks! If they can’t handle that feeling, they’re less likely to eat that food altogether.
Messy eating is also great sensory play that eventually translates to play, art and learning as kids get older.
How do you handle the mess?
What about manners? Head to our “Let’s Get Messy” section in the Toddler Course to learn about how to appropriately foster table manners.
What if my kiddo won’t touch messy foods? Get in there and get messy with them! Keep offering yogurt, sauces, soups etc for your child to self-feed as much as possible. If you find that your kiddo is really averse to new textures and it’s getting in the way of mealtime or playtime, talk to your doc.