Living / 28 November, 2023 / Christina Walter
We team up with role-play pioneers Casdon and child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed to explore the benefits of using role-play toys to encourage lifelong enjoyment of foods.
Step into the world of role-play toys with us, where learning and play come together! Role-play toys not only allow children to have fun whilst playing, but they also help to open up tiny minds and take them on a journey of learning and discovery. Join us as we team up with role-play pioneers Casdon, and child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed as we explore the world of role-play toys and reveal the incredible benefits they can have on creating happier and healthier mealtimes.
Classic role-play remains a vital part of children’s development, enabling them to strengthen their coordination, imagination, social and motor skills and helping them learn through play. Kitchen role play is an exciting and fun activity, which helps to expand the imagination and enhances creativity for little ones. It gives children the power to create their own imaginative recipes and explore a range of pretend ingredients.
Children learn so much in their early years from watching their parents. Language, expressions, and movement are all picked up and adopted by our little ones and it’s so lovely to see. Something I’m pretty passionate about as a Registered Nutritionist who works with babies, toddlers and families is encouraging children to learn about FOOD via observation too. Children can learn what and how to eat from watching us eat with them during weaning and early childhood. They learn what foods they like, patterns of eating and even how to use knives and forks from observation and practice.
Children often go through ups and downs of food acceptance, which is perfectly normal, especially in the toddler years. But one of the ways you can help encourage a lifelong enjoyment of foods is by offering plenty of ways for little ones to learn about, explore and engage with foods WITHOUT actually eating them. This helps to build familiarity with the skills needed to make and prep foods, as well as with the foods themselves and we know from research that familiarity often leads to acceptance.
So, I’m a big advocate of bringing food and the idea of food prep, mealtimes and eating experiences to children’s play – a time when they are often more open, excited and accepting. This is why I love the Casdon range of food roleplay items. These items are so realistic that they really help children to role-play at a really deep level, clicking the right buttons, hearing the right sounds and doing the right actions needed to make a coffee or prep salad for example.
Charlotte’s top benefits of using role-play to encourage healthier eating habits, overcome toddler milestones and encourage happier family mealtimes:
Allowing little ones to play with food and familiarise themselves with it gives them the chance to experiment
Role-play cooking with ingredients is perfect for giving little ones the power to be creative without the mess of real-life baking; however, if you don’t mind a little bit of messy play from time to time, the Kenwood Mixer can be used in real-life baking!
The Casdon Shopping Trolley is great for expanding vocabulary and reading skills as each of the items inside is appropriately labelled, play games with your children to see if they can read what the label says before placing it in their trolley
Skills: Allowing little ones to practise skills around food such as chopping, rolling, mixing and serving food to others. This is really key and is teaching them such life skills that will benefit them for years to come.
It also can help teach them about maths, measurement and weighing – I love the fact that the Joseph Joseph Bake Set includes measurements and can be used in real-life baking! I found this particularly useful when playing with my daughter, she had so much fun practising her cooking, weighing and measuring skills at the same time.
A lot of Casdon products help to teach essential food safety skills through play including, chopping foods, using separate boards, and cleaning their hands before cooking.
Toy food and play kitchen accessories are excellent opportunities to natter about food with your little ones and get them learning and developing skills around food as well as familiarising children with it so well too. We have always loved toy foods that the kids can “chop” and prep at home just like the grown-ups – the Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot set is perfect for this and features Casdon’s very own ‘ChopPop’ technology!
The Casdon Joseph Joseph Salad Set provides the perfect way to encourage healthy eating and introduce healthy foods, it encourages children to explore new ingredients before eating them
All this roleplay helps little ones to get involved in some of the family “chores” right from the start, learning skills, and developing hand-eye coordination and dexterity skills needed around the home.
For me, as a nutritionist, the key thing really is helping little ones be more familiar with foods and more accepting of a variety of food items and what goes into prepping them. I love role-playing with food – ovens, baking sets, lunchboxes, you name it. It’s something I’d certainly recommend exploring with your little ones too!
To explore the full role-play range by Casdon visit Casdon.com.
Article by Charlotte Stirling-Reed.