Thursday, September 4, 2008

Safer Play Food

I introduced my baby girl to play food last week. We had a big bag of hand-me-downs from her older cousins, both things they had received new and picked up at yard sales. There's a mix of pretend utensils, cups, plates, pots and pans, and a large quantity of food. Some of the food is regular food, like bananas, waffles, hot dogs, peppers, chocolate milk. And then there's labeled food - as in McDonald's. We have chicken nuggets, pancakes, fries and (my favorite) a hot fudge sundae. We don't go to McDonald's often and I'd rather that she didn't learn to recognize the logo and associate it with her toys. I do go there on occasion (I really do love the hot fudge sundae), but she eats such a wide variety of foods and I see McDonald's as the killer of kids' taste buds. My girl will ONLY eat french fries and ice cream there (she eats a wide variety normally, but that's ALL she will eat there! weird).

My bigger concern with the play food is that she actually "eats" it. This shouldn't surprise me, since she's 19 months old and has always been into chewing her toys. She does realize that she is playing with the food, but she seems to believe that mouthing is part of the play (it is food after all). We're starting to notice paint missing, and since we're not sure of the safety of the items, we've taken some of them away from her.

I know Abigail loves playing kitchen and pretending to eat, so I've been searching out safer alternatives to plastic play food. At first, I thought that wooden food, like the stuff at Magic Cabin, was a perfect replacement, until I realized that it's still painted. Beyond the possibility of lead in the paint, there are other chemicals to consider. I'm now looking into knitted, crocheted, and felt food. The problem with these play foods is that they're fuzzy and she will still put them in her mouth. Perhaps only once though.

My first introduction to felt play food was at Pottery Barn Kids. Abigail played tea party at the kids table that was set up and she put one of the chocolate chip cookies in her mouth. A few weeks later, I saw a segment on Creative Juice (on DIY network) where they were making doll accessories, and some of those accessories were play food. These food items looked doable and fun, but they seem a little old for a young toddler.

Since I’ve been on a quest to find alternative sources of play food over the last week I’ve discovered a whole new world. There are free patterns, patterns for sale, tutorials, play food for sale at Etsy, and even a Flickr site devoted to sharing homemade play food. I’m really excited about trying some of these ideas, and thought I’d share a few of my sources. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to making any of this, but I hope it’s soon.

I just found these at Chasing Cheerios today, and I think they're so cute.

A whole bag of "groceries" by Homemade by Jill

A sugar cookie tutorial on Make and Takes

And two posts from Crunchy Parent: links to other blogs and directions and a discussion of materials to use

I hope these ideas help someone else. Hopefully I'll be able to get busy on some play food soon or find another suitable alternative for my munchy girl.

1 comment:

Denise Punger MD IBCLC said...

Your smart to look for healthy play food. I take the baby bottles out of doll and toy sets.