This Annoying Toddler Mess Is Worth the Cleanup

toddler eating dinner

Most parents are not fans of that messy cleanup after toddler meals. You know it seems like there's more food on your child's face and high chair tray than in your kid's tummy? So a lot of us will do everything we can to keep the whole process as tidy was possible -- cleaning as we go, doling out just a small amount of food as we go. But here's a notion that may send shivers down every neat-freak parent's spine: Playing with food may make kids smarter.

You think you're protecting yourself from a big mess. But actually, you're protecting your child from learning better. Oh no! Can you stand to lower your standards and watch your toddler get super messy?


Here's what scientists are saying. In a study, children who were allowed to play and make a mess with their food were better able to learn the words for "non-solid" objects like glue and oatmeal. Oh yeah, the researchers gave these kids glue and oatmeal. That sounds so fun to clean up. Don't you wish you could have been a research assistant for this experiment?

I digress. (Confession, total neat freak here.) What it comes down to is that the more tactile kids are with their environment and the "stuff" in their life, the faster and stronger their growing brains make connections. It's one of those things you hear about a lot -- learning isn't just hearing and seeing; Touch, taste, and smell as also hugely important.

So go ahead. Let your kid make a mess. It's for their own good. And you'll survive, right? You can handle this? Of course you can -- if you know it's making your toddler smarter.

How relaxed are you about letting your toddler play with their food and make other messes?


Image via CBS News

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