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Toddlers in high chairs who play with food learn quicker

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Researchers found toddlers who played with non-solid foods/drinks while sitting in a high chair learned the names of the foods faster than the toddlers who did not play with the food. Researchers at the University of Iowa postulate the familiarity of the high chair along with the handling of the foods’ textures helped the toddlers correctly identify the different foods, according to a press release on Dec. 2.

The 16-month old toddlers were given 14 different foods and drinks. The kids were allowed to poke, prod, squish and throw the foods/drinks in a controlled environment. The foods were non-solid such as applesauce, pudding, juice and soup and introduced to the toddlers by ‘made-up’ names by the researchers. The fake names helped the researchers in identifying the learning behaviors of the toddlers.

The toddlers who sat in high chairs remembered the names of the foods/drinks better than the toddlers who sat at different venues (e.g. tables). It is assumed the toddlers know they can be ‘messy’ in a high chair.

Most (if not all) children learn during play times. They are allowed to freely investigate items during play time to their understandings, in a suitable time-frame (not rushed) and in a familiar setting. This type of learning doesn't stop at meal times so just keep the mop near-by for cleaning up after!

This study supports the idea that investigating and hands-on learning can be beneficial for later cognitive functioning, specifically word choice recall.

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