Hi, I’m Grainne, the Editor at KIDLY. Thanks, Mamamade, for having us over to play! As an online retailer that sells 200+ design-led and sustainable kids’ brands for 0-5s, plus KIDLY Label, our own range of colourful quality must-haves, KIDLY’s all about supporting your child’s relationship with food, as it evolves during their first few years. Our KIDLY Label feeding range is carefully designed to make those early mealtimes more fun and less frustration, for everyone.
But food figures hugely in all our lives, and is about more than just eating. Here’s how you can enrich their interest in what appears on their plates (and goes in their tummies) by getting them to play with their food. On the playmat, in the kitchen, in the garden and at the craft table...
Even pre-weaning, little mouths adore to explore. We love the fact that nowadays teethers come in so many interesting shapes, so we’re especially gaga for Oli & Carol, a fab Spanish brand that makes fruit and veggie-shaped ones out of 100% natural rubber. Hand-painted with natural pigments, they not only look spookily like everything from kale leaves to watermelon slices, but you can use them as bath toys too. (Can’t say that about a real stick of broccoli!)
MAKE BELIEVE FEASTS
From toddlerdom onwards, playing let’s pretend is a huge part of your child’s emotional development. That’s when foodie toys really hit the spot, from choppable veggies and wooden pizzas and birthday cakes that they can decorate and share, all the way up to fully-equipped toy kitchens. It’s all part of helping them see food for the creative and social experience it is. Full of shared excitement - and sometimes odd flavour combinations!
Yup, they’re out there! One of KIDLY’s best-selling brands is Jellycat, who’ve made everything from root veggies, baked goods and even sushi into adorable cuddlies and, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to cuddle up to a croissant in bed? (I certainly do.)
KIDLY sells lots of fun baking kits for kids (and the pride on a three-year-old’s face when they make their first cake is a joy to behold) but you can get kids into cooking from about 18 months onwards. Especially if you take the ‘pop in and out' approach, recommended by Grace Hall at eatsamazing. Involve them in small tasks as you go about your everyday family cooking, like snipping herbs in a cup with safety scissors, rinsing veggies under a tap, sieving flour or mashing bananas. (She has loads of great recipes to whip up with toddlers too.)
Just google ‘food art for kids’ or stick the phrase into Pinterest, Insta or TikTok and you’ll find so much inspo for turning bananas into dolphins and the humble sandwich, pizza or pancake into pretty much anything your toddler or child can imagine.
GROW YOUR OWN
Everything tastes better straight from the soil and you don’t even need a garden - a bright window ledge is enough to get some produce going. Courgettes, beans and tomatoes are surprisingly easy to cultivate and there’s loads of great advice out there from the likes of BBCGoodFood. Handily, grandparents also LOVE buying kids gardening-themed gifts. #birthdayandchristmaslistsorted
READ IT THEN EAT IT
Yes, you read it right - The Carrot Who Was Too Big For His Bed is a plantable book. A delightful story for kids that's printed on paper containing real seeds. Snuggle up and read about Carrot’s adventures, then plant any of the pages and grow your own carrot crop together. Talk about bringing the story to life!
And finally, seeing food as a medium for self expression can range from making macaroni necklaces and fusilli picture frames to good old fashioned potato printing and making traditional gingerbread houses at Christmas. It’s all part of appreciating food in all its glory.
Hope that’s given you some inspo for exploring and playing with food together. And here’s an appetite-whetting 15% off your first purchase at kidly.co.uk, using code MAMAMADE15.
Thanks for having us, Mamamade!
T&Cs: First-time customers only and only applicable to full-priced items. Can't be used in conjunction with any other offer, sale, promotion or multibuy. Offer ends 24th July 2022.
Picture credit: Boy gardening - Filip Urban on Unsplash