LETTUCE PLAY! Ella’s Kitchen reveals why little ones SHOULD play with their food

- 15th September 2021 -

  • New research from Ella’s Kitchen reveals two in three parents (63%) feel that the multiple lockdowns have negatively impacted their child’s relationship with food
  • However, a huge 86% want mealtimes to be a fun and enjoyable experience and over three quarters (77%) see it as a chance to bond with their baby
  • Yet 41% admit getting their children to try / eat certain foods is more stressful than a trip to the dentist (19%) or moving house (29%)
  • To help parents and little ones find new and exciting ways to have fun with food, Ella’s Kitchen has launched limited edition Sensory Play Packs to encourage little ones to explore and have fun through play in and outside of mealtimes

Why babies should play with their food

Little people should play with their food according to the UK’s leading baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen Brands Ltd after research reveals two thirds of parents (62%) still tell their little ones not to.

According to new research released today, a third of parents (27%) think playing with food isn’t good behaviour despite studies* showing that babies and toddlers that engage with food using all their senses, in and outside of mealtimes, can help familiarise them and lead to increased willingness to try a new food.

However reassuringly, Ella’s Kitchen found a huge 86% of parents believe mealtimes should be a fun and enjoyable experience and over three quarters (77%) see it as a chance to bond with their baby, but it seems 41% of parents find getting their children to try or eat certain foods more stressful than a trip to the dentist (19%), being stuck in traffic (29%), or even moving house (29%).

The importance of sensory food play

Studies show that little ones who engage and have fun with food using all their senses, in and outside of mealtimes, are much more willing to try those foods, and over time, learn to love them. ​​

To provide inspiration and bring the fun into food and mealtimes, Ella’s Kitchen is offering parents the chance to get their hands on a free expert-designed tasty, touchy, squishy Sensory Play Pack, created to help little ones from six months to three years fall in love with good food through fun, multi-sensorial games.

Inside the Sensory Play Pack

Created in partnership with childhood eating behaviour expert Dr Helen Coulthard from De Montfort University and Ella’s Kitchen’s expert nutritionist Claire Baseley, the packs are bursting full of sensory elements, designed to help the 3 in 4 (72%) that admit they still struggle to get their little one to try new foods at mealtimes.

Each Sensory Play Pack includes

  • touchy, feely, textured stickers
  • a sensory play activity booklet packed with recipe and game ideas
  • fruit + veg rainbow snap cards
  • a sensory play wall chart
  • The Purple One pouch
  • and some little Ella’s Kitchen socks to play a great herby smelly socks game with.

Please note, our Sensory Play Packs are now sold out!

What parents think

Two thirds (63%) of parents said they felt ongoing lockdowns and a lack of interaction and fun experiences outside the home also contributed to a negative impact on their child’s relationship with food, due to a lack of interaction with other children (41%), a lack of different eating scenarios (38%) and a lack of experience with a variety of new foods (33%).

So, this expertly crafted pack is here to help tackle the issues the research uncovers and help to ensure little ones are having lots of fun when it comes to mealtimes.

Claire avatar update
Single quote collage image
Single quote collage image
Mobile quote top collage image

“Parents often find it hard to get their children to eat new foods, with vegetables often topping the list of most challenging foods to introduce - but did you know, it can take up to 8-12 experiences of a food before your little one accepts it? The first few experiences with a new food might result in a few funny faces, but patient perseverance is key and a fun and enjoyable experience with food now can help build confidence and curiosity as they grow and make them more willing to try new things, including a variety of yummy tastes and textures. At Ella’s, we want little ones to fall in love with good food and enjoy their earliest mealtime experiences which is why our Sensory Play Packs are designed with this in mind – to help you let your little one enjoy mealtimes by exploring new foods in fun and exciting ways.”

Claire Baseley

Ella’s Kitchen Nutritionist

Mobile quote bottom collage image

Ella's Kitchen Sensory Play

Alongside the Sensory Play Pack, Ella’s Kitchen has created a new Sensory Play website hub, housing lots of fun foodie activity ideas for little ones, yummy recipes, handy tips and videos from our experts + more to get littles ones exploring new and deeelicious foods in fun and exciting ways.

Whether parents are just starting to wean or encouraging their toddler to join in at the big table, there's something fun and exciting for all little people from 6 months to 3 years to enjoy.

To get your little one's free Sensory Play Pack, spend £25 on Ella's online shop and enter the code SENSORY25 at checkout… but be super duper quick, once they're gone, they're gone!

Time for texture!

Let little hands feel the different textures of foods as you prepare a scrummy meal, like a bumpy avocado skin. Then explore the squishy, creeeamy, silky smoooth texture inside too!

Claire Baseley

What’s the time?

Timing is important - try playing games when your little one is happy and alert, and not too sleepy or hungry.

Helen Coulthard

Research methodology

Consumer research was conducted by Atomik Research, surveying 2,000 parents in the United Kingdom with children aged 5 years old and under, between the 20 to 23 August 2021.