My 3 year old has a kitchenette set with all sorts of play food. I can't help but feel that if I remove the junk foods and bread products from her toy foods, through play she will learn to make healthy food choices. Then a part of me turns around and calls myself crazy. I could go on about the argument in my head, but I won't. Would you take these toys away?
It got me thinking: I could make wooden paleo friendly foods. Very few of these sets come with steaks or bacon.
I think that instead of stressing out over the harmful effects of fake fake food, bring her to a farmer's market, garden, get her involved while you cook, let her touch, taste, smell good real foods. If there is something that she can help with, let her help prepare or serve the foods, talk to her about them, respect the innate intelligence of a little human being whose body knows what it needs.
If anything, TV exposure should be limited, as I do think endless commercials make fake food seem really cool and fun. Just like how watching MTV's Cribs makes you feel like your house sucks when in reality, it is exactly what you need.
If you are really intent on finding toy bacon, steaks, etc., I'm sure the pet toy section of a big pet superstore has all kinds of plastic meat products :)
I think that is a great idea. Every message you convey to your child whether through silence or movement will have an effect. I eliminated all plastic baby doll diapers years ago and bought real cloth baby doll diapers. I even bought the nursing baby doll, which became my daughters favorite. Of course she has fond memories of breastfeeding so loves pretending to feed her baby doll this way. When breast feeding is so wonderful, why do we put dolls with plastic formula bottles in our daughter's hands? This is teaching the wrong things. The reason I made these changes is that I saw how GOOD she was at being a play mommy. She was duplicating every single thing I did with her. Is that why it is automatic for us to be moms. We remember later that learning process? It is up to you to decide how far to go. Just ask yourself, would you give her a fake cigarette? Why not? Because they are unhealthy? Then if you give her other things, does that mean YOU are not really so sure that they are unhealthy? I ask myself this all the time. Our children can pick up on our uncertainties because we are communicating them. We don't have much choice do we, since we don't have all the answers. But, when you are sure about something, I wouldn't be worried about carrying through with it. You'll have plenty of if's later to be wishy-washy about. You could also remove things slowly while she is not around just to not make a point of it. Replace them with healthier options. She'll probably never notice. I do this with food that some people sneak into my house.
I'm not a parent or anything, but I feel like having junk toy food wouldn't hurt anything. She's not actually consuming it or experiencing the taste (or smell) so I feel like she isn't being drawn to junk food over paleo food. Making your own is a great idea - my little sister LOVED toy food and had an entire crate. She did have a rubber steak, although I have no idea where we got it from.
I don't think you're over-thinking it. I think you actually make a really valid point. I wouldn't let my kids pretend to smoke fake cigarettes. I think it makes perfect sense to limit "fake fake foods" (awesome quote, FED). On the flip side, I wouldn't go crazy about it and throw everything away and freak out. Kids learn by example and they play with what they know. If you keep those toys in the mix, you may find one day that she stops playing with the McFood anyway.
Haha, I thought I was the only crazy cave-mama who was worried about plastic potato chips. My little guy isn't old enough to know they're supposed to be food, but I think that before he's old enough to understand and pretend, I'll throw away the plastic french fries, hot dog buns, and other "food" that came in his little kitchen kit. There are some GREAT etsy stores (here's one EvaLauryn )that sell play food made of felt, and I believe you can special order different kinds of food. Maybe even let her pick out what she wants to have. If you do keep the play food, I'd just remind her "these muffins are pretend. If we ate real muffins, we'd get a tummy ache, wouldn't we? What foods in your kitchen do we eat in our real kitchen?" etc.
i dont think youre over thinking it. i dont let my kids play with junk food in their kitchen. melissa and doug make some really nice wooden toy food sets. my kids have the generic set, the sushi set, the fruit set.
i agree with the first poster that its not the ONLY thing we as parents should be doing. we have a CSA share that my daughter helps me pick up, we have a lot of friends who farm or even just have backyard hens, and she goes to "farm camp" every friday where they learn about meat and vegetables and where they come from. shes 3.
she also goes to a preschool the raises chickens, goats, horses, and rescues dogs and cats. they go outside in all weather, and the curriculum of the school is focused on sustainability, science and art.
she also doesnt see any commercials on TV on my watch. we only netflix or on-demand tv shows so we can control how much she is watching and what she is seeing.
and another thing i do is edit her toys- not just no bad food, but also no guns, no violent toys, no sexist toys (like barbie dolls, princess shit or bratz dolls), and no toys in which the game is already determined, strongly favoring open ended toys.
im not trying to be smug or antyhing- we have more than our fair share of shortcomings and things we need to work on over here- i just strongly believe that as parents we are the ones who control our kids input and output and that is our job. all too soon they are making their own decisions about consumption, and i think its important to lay the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. my house, my values. period.
they can eat mcdonalds to piss me off then they have their own money to buy it, but hopefully they will get ick as hell and hear my voice in the back of their head saying, "i told you so!"
I try to teach my boys about making good choices. I try to expose them to as many things as possible. I try not to try to control the things that I cannot possibly control.
I guess this toy thing doesn't rile me up as much as it does others because I have confidence that my kids understand the difference between a piece of candy and a piece of broccoli. (My son calls this "Mantracker Food" - the Canadian Marlborough Man who he wants to grow up to be - cool). My son likes to ask whether this food or that "food will make him strong." He still wants candy, Mac N'Cheese and all sorts of other kid stuff because he is a kid and he lives in the real world.
I probably would not remove the offending toys because that would limit our opportunities to talk about making good choices. It would maybe spark discussion about why these foods may not be all that great for health. It may just be the best teaching opportunity about food you have.
Or I could be completely wrong.
You're not crazy!! My kids helped me throw away the muffins, bread and cake boxes from their toy food set. I teach them that things made of "brown grass" (grains) are not good for us, even though they might not make some people have "poo water". The more your little one is exposed to healthy things, be it from your teaching or through play, the better off she will be as an adult to make the best choices. We're not raising children, after all..we're "raising" adults!
I don't think that it is wrong. Children emulate what they see in real life, so if you are leading by example, I would think that naturally they would not play with those foods anyway. My daughter is also 3. Since I no longer eat bread, she picks the bread off of her meals, too. Kind of makes me proud. :)
I would, however, stay away from the plastic food! Younger children, especially, are inclined to put EVERYTHING into their mouth, and a lot of those plastics still contain BPA or other chemicals that we would not want them munching on. Felt play food is pretty easy to make, and you can find tons of blogs via a google search about making them. If you're not feeling crafty, you can find a seller on Etsy who can make whatever your heart desires. Wooden food gets expensive, but certainly worth it. Just make sure if they are painted it is with a safe, lead-free paint. Toys like these I see as an investment. They're not the standard "throw aways" that manufacturers have made children's play things to be in this day and age. They will last forever if taken well care of, and if you limit their time in front of the television and allow their creativity to blossom, they'll play "house" or "kitchen" for years to come. :)