** Our research group has not accepted any monetary incentives for our recommendations
Pretend food is a classic toy, and when it’s cut-able, there are even more ways you can play with them. So let’s grab some and get cookin’! Included in parentheses are some words you can use while playing, and remember to follow your child’s lead by playing at their play level. See here for general recommendations on how to best engage your child in play.
- Pull the pieces apart. (You pulled the carrot. The stem is off.)
- Push them together. (Watermelon. We pushed it together.)
- Put pieces of food in a pretend microwave. (The apple is in the microwave. You pushed the buttons. It’s cooking. The apple is out. It’s hot!)
- Put pieces of food in a bowl or pot. (The pear is in the bowl. You dumped the fruit out.)
- Cut the pieces with a pretend knife (your toddler may need help with this). (It’s a knife. We’re cutting the tomato.)
Beginning Imaginary Play:
- Feed the food to a puppet. You can set up a play routine by having your child stick the pieces together, then feed them to a puppet (who tears them apart while eating), and then starting over building the food again. (You fed the dog. He’s eating the lemon. It’s too sour. He spit it out!).
- Put the pieces in a bowl, and then stir them with a spoon. You can also add other steps like scooping the food out and putting it into different bowls/plates. (The orange is in the bowl. A spoon. You’re mixing the fruit. The food came out. Now, it’s in the pan.)
- Cut up the food and then decide with your child what to put in a bowl to make a yummy soup. You can pretend to cook the soup, blow on it if it’s hot, and then pretend to eat it. (The eggplant is in the pot. You put an onion in the pot. The soap is cooking. Oh no it’s too hot! We’re blowing on the soup. Now, it’s cool.)
- Set a small table with utensils, plates, and cups, and then serve up some pretend food.