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Appetikes: Feeding support & Messy food play

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

We are Appetikes! Alix and Emma, Speech and Language Therapists specialising in children’s eating and drinking. We both support children with communication needs as well, but Appetikes is primarily a page for feeding support.

As Speech and Language Therapists, we have both worked for the NHS and in independent practice. Appetikes came about initially as we felt there was a gap in services related to sensory and aversive feeding difficulties for families in the North West. When Alix had her little boy Ezra, she noticed that there was also limited support for parents who are weaning their babies in the area.

We have been up and running on Instagram since November last year, and have just hit the 200 follower mark! Our page offers advice and practical solutions around three main areas:


Fussy or delayed eating

Persistent aversion and sensory difficulties

We can support children from pre weaning right the way up to teenagers who may be experiencing longer term developmental or sensory differences with their eating.

Currently , we are offering lots of free advice and ideas on our Instagram page, but we are planning on expanding our services in the very near future to include online workshops, face to face classes (COVID depending) and personalised feeding watch this space!

We want to support our families to feel confident in creating a meal time environment that is engaging, enjoyable and positive for all! This is why one of our favourite strategies that we always recommend is ‘messy food play’.

Did you know ?

Eating is the only human experience which involves all five senses. Our interaction with food begins before we’ve even taken a bite. In fact, taste is the last sense to be involved in the eating process.

Messy food play involves all of our senses and allows children to explore food in a fun and stress free –way, and is great for all ages. Starting food play early on in the weaning process can prevent longer term difficulties with ‘fussy eating’. Similarly, research also indicates that for children who have developed pickier eating habits, messy food play can help them to tolerate and try new things.

We suggest doing messy play away from your set meal times so that there is no perceived pressure from the child to have to eat. Any form of interaction should be encouraged; they might hear the crunch of food as they hold it in their hands , put their toys in it, lift it up to smell, or even have a tiny taste.

Babies and children should always be supervised around food.

Appetikes top tips for messy play time.

Here are some of photos of messy play activities that have been shared on our page @appetikes, under the hashtag #messyplaymondays.

If you have any inventive ideas that you have tried with your child, we would love to hear about them or see a picture if you are happy to share.

1. Mess is ok (in fact it’s great!). You could always put down a shower curtain, table cloth, blanket, or use a tray (tuff trays are great) to contain the activity. If the weather is nice, you could do it outside or even use a paddling pool.

2. Try and get involved yourself so your little one can see what you are doing and have a go at copying. If you feel uncomfortable about mess, try not to let it show. If they have siblings, get them involved as well!

3. Dry food is a good texture to start with, especially if your child is reluctant to touch wet foods. Cereals, flour, dry biscuits, pasta (uncooked), rice. Once your child is comfortable with these types of food, you can move on to wetter textures (e.g. home-made play dough or ‘gloop’, cooked pasta/spaghetti, jelly, squirty cream, ) and can even start to experiment with things like food colouring.

4. Think about communication during play. Model language that matches what your child is doing e.g. ‘pour’ ‘up’ ‘down’ ‘flour’ ‘in’.

5. Try to vary the activities and how you present them. You might start off using their interests, but can then gradually introduce different types of play. For example, diggers, dinosaurs, farm animals, containers and cutlery, cars, small world figures.

To find out more about @appetikes please give them a follow on instagram !

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