We’re continuing our week of crunchy foods with nuts and seeds which are amazing foods, densely packed with important nutrients, but we need to choose them carefully for kids. They require strong rotary chewing skills to grind them up and we have to be careful about nut allergies which become more and more prevalent each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until your baby is 12 months-old to introduce any form of nuts (nut butters, chopped or slivered) and because whole nuts require skilled chewing and can pose a choking hazard to young children they recommend waiting to offer whole nuts until a child is 4 years-old. If you are concerned about a possible nut allergy or your child’s chewing/oral motor skills, definitely discuss it with your child’s doctor. If you feel comfortable introducing nuts and seeds there are lots ways to have fun with them! Pretend Play: Nuts and seeds are the perfect size for foods at a picnic or tea party with stuffed animals, action figures or dolls. Plus they’re not sloppy, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuffed animals and dolls stained and dirty. Use nuts and seeds as the gravel or sand in a dump-truck construction site. Have whole nuts sit up front as drivers. The possibilities are endless! Make It A Game: Use nuts and seeds to work on math concepts like counting, addition and subtraction. Younger kids can play turn taking games or just pouring nuts and seeds from one bowl to another can be a fun activity (and soothing, it sounds like a rain stick!). Make Something: Make a free-form design or use cookie cutters to turn piles of seeds into fun shapes. Make a scene of a rocket blasting off, a jungle or bumble bees in a field of flowers. No matter which kind of play you choose, I hope you have so much fun creating positive experiences with nuts and seeds! Enjoy and happy food play!