Eating is one area that kids DO have control over, and it doesn't work for parents to try to interfere in that control. -Danielle Binns

117: Why You Must Let Kids Play with Their Food with Danielle Binns

The mess, the mess!

Feeding kids can be overwhelming sometimes, especially if you’re unlucky enough to have carpet under a highchair. 😮

Family nutritionist Danielle Binns joins me today to talk about the importance of playing with food and why it’s the most powerful anti-picky-eating strategy at our disposal!

She’ll challenge your thinking for sure with these topics:

  • Why eating is one of the hardest things we do as humans
  • The huge mistake most parents make when feeding their kids (especially if the child doesn’t eat well and isn’t gaining weight)
  • How the senses OTHER than taste impact our relationship with food in big ways
  • Why sometimes, for some kids, eating an Oreo is a good thing
  • Why even as a nutritionist, nutrition doesn’t come first at a meal
  • The reason she lets her kids pick green things out of a meal (and you should too)
  • Two nutrient deficiencies that reduce appetite and why milk at dinner is not her recommendation
  • The best way to start kids off right in the morning
  • Her super-powered tool to help kids make friends with food

Danielle will leave you with ONE simple step to take TODAY at dinner that will begin to make a difference in your kids’ healthy eating, even if you have a picky or very selective eater. Powerful stuff!

Can’t see the video? Watch why you should let your kids play with food here on YouTube.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Picky Eater Strategies Video Time Stamps

  • 0:13: Today I’m joined by Danielle Binns on the Healthy Parenting Connector. I actually found Danielle through a Facebook ad! We’re talking today about stress-free mealtimes for parents of picky eaters.
  • 2:15: Danielle has a child who was a very picky eater. As she searched for solutions, she ended up getting several certifications in children’s eating. She shares her background with us and how she became interested in children’s feeding.

Eating is one of the most complicated things we do as humans. -Danielle Binns

Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Kids

  • 5:35: We start by chatting about some of the top mistakes parents make when feeding kids. It often comes down to control.
  • 6:31: The first big mistake is trying to control the amount our kids eat. This can lead to them eating too much or too little. Research has shown that when kids can self-regulate how much they eat, they get what they need from a nutritional perspective.

What if your kids could make a whole meal by themselves?

It’s totally possible for even the youngest children, once they learn the skills in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!


Letting Kids Play With Food

  • 7:22: There’s a myth that kids shouldn’t play with their food. Playing with your food is actually an important developmental stage. There’s actually research supporting food play!
  • 9:06: If you think giving kids free rein to play with their food sounds rough, listen in here for some tips and encouragement.

If kids are willing to touch and smell food first, it will get in their mouths so much faster. -Danielle Binns

  • 10:38: Danielle often says that nutrition is secondary at a meal. She tells us what is first and why!
  • 12:34: The strategies you employ will depend on where your child is. If your child has 5-10 foods they will eat, something deeper is going on.

For picky eaters, nutrition comes second. Eating comes first. -Danielle Binns

  • 13:38: The goal is to expand the number of foods your child will eat, but that doesn’t mean you need to be sure to feed them Oreos just to expand their palette!
  • 13:59: Danielle explains the term “sanitizing your kids’ food” and why you shouldn’t.
  • 16:18: Your kids picking things out of their food themselves is actually part of the process of them learning to eat new foods. This works for adults too! My husband used to pick bits of spinach or kale out of his soup, but doesn’t anymore!

Nutrition and Picky Eaters

  • 18:03: If nutrition is second to eating, where does nutrition come in?
  • 19:45: What about children who have no appetite? It could be the timing of the meals or an issue with their iron or zinc levels. 1 in 8 toddlers is deficient in iron.
  • 20:34: Danielle has some practical tips to optimize zinc and iron through your diet. Many of the foods high in one are also high in the other!
  • 23:59: If you’re interested in supplementing rather than changing diet, Danielle recommends testing zinc and iron levels since too much can lead to problems as well.
  • 25:11: We transition from the table to the kitchen and talk about getting kids involved in cooking.

Getting kids in the kitchen is so powerful. -Danielle Binns

  • 26:08: Danielle shares how she got her kids to try Brussels sprouts just by putting the pan in a certain place on the counter.
  • 27:41: A growth mindset is very important when teaching kids to eat new foods.
  • 28:05: Remember how I found Danielle through a Facebook ad? We share what the ad was for that caught my eye!

Help picky eaters by removing eating from the equation. -Danielle BinnsHelp picky eaters by removing eating from the equation. -Danielle Binns

  • 31:58: Danielle’s placemat can be used during meals or while you’re still cooking dinner. It takes about 5-10 minutes to go through all the questions.
  • 32:56: Danielle shares one step you can take today. It’s super doable!

Resources We Mention for Picky Eaters

Danielle Binns

Danielle Binns (CNP) is a Family Nutritionist & Picky Eating Expert. As a mom of three little girls (including a former EXTREMELY picky eater) Danielle knows firsthand how emotionally draining it is to have a child who doesn’t eat well. After months of research and acquiring certifications in children’s eating, Danielle discovered a better way to approach mealtimes, and since, has helped hundreds of other families around the globe.

Today Danielle helps parents with picky eaters achieve stress-free mealtimes with her personalized coaching programs, as well as her popular online program (The Picky Eater Protocol). She’s also a nutritional consultant for companies/restaurants, schools, and a speaker at medical conventions. She also has credentials/certification in the “SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding.”

Surprising strategy to overcome picky eating

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector

Katie Kimball

I interview experts about kids’ health every week – stay in the loop with a quick Saturday morning email:



2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids

Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.

3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

Enroll now in the Wall Street Journal’s #1 recommended online cooking class for kids (also rated 5 stars on Facebook). See what fits your family best HERE.

About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend