Helen Coulthard

Developmental psychologist / Makes Sense of Food Play

Helen C EK Body

What do you do at Ella’s Kitchen?

I help make sure all our sensory games and activities are right for you and your little ones.

A little background please, what makes you the best person for the job?

I am a psychologist with a PhD in feeding problems in babies and children. I am really interested in why some babies and children don’t always seem to enjoy eating, especially their fruits and veggies. I try and find ways to make your little ones fall in love with their food. I have published research for the last 20 years, particularly around sensory exploration and play.

What makes you proud to work with Ella’s Kitchen + how does your job help little ones learn to love food?

I am passionate about positive food parenting and making mealtimes and food as fun as possible for the whole family. I am always keeping an eye on the latest advice about sensory play to make sure that it’s correct and aligns with the most up to date research findings.

My top three tips for parents + carers of little ones


Eating is more than taste! To learn to love good food, your little one should explore the smell, sight, taste, look and feel of lots of different foods. If you can let them become mini food explorers, they can feel in control and learn to develop their likes and dislikes.


Remember each little one is special and different – some may take longer to enjoy certain foods than others. If your little one avoids a lot of foods, then try to introduce new foods that look similar to the foods that they do already like. Or, even better, start by playing with non-foods and gradually introduce images of foods and then familiar, liked foods.


Sensory play doesn’t have to mean constant mess. If you’re worried about too much mess, try doing slightly messier play just before bath time, on a mat or even outside. Even though eating and exploring finger foods is great at mealtimes (and can get a little messy), you can decide what works for you – there are plenty of non-messy sensory activities you can try!

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we work reeeally closely with lots of experts so that our yummy foods are the best for tiny tummies!