Mashblox was inspired by watching a toddler with an apple.
He’d take a bite or two, then drop it, bounce it and roll on the ground, very much like a ball… And then pick it up to eat again while all covered in dirt.
He repeated this until his father took it off him, and it occurred to me that food and plaything were the same concept at that age. There had to be a way to combine children’s tendencies to play with their food, and to explore the world through their mouths for less messy and more hygienic feeding.
Hollow silicone building blocks seemed the perfect solution. Voila, Mashblox was born.
I thought they’d just be a novelty, but when I ran parent focus groups they told me horror stories of fussy eating. As a non-Mum, this made zero sense to me.If this had been an issue at any other point in history, then surely we would have died out? Parents just haven’t had the resources to pander to it. So what was really going on?
One two year old demands their toast in isosceles triangles, but not too small or they’ll get sent back. A healthy three year old refused to eat for three days. Kids won’t eat foods that touch eachother on the plate, or will only eat white foods, or only … IT GOES ON AND ON! I’m sure if you’re a parent, you know all about it.
It’s a phase, they say: except when it’s not. Recommendations include using your hands, making food fun, serving child size portions, and making food colourful: Every parent I spoke to and everything I read suggested that fussy eating was often about control.
This made sense to me: if I was two feet high and my clothes, friends, activities, bed time and everything in between was chosen for me, then it wouldn’t take me long to start getting pretty damn fussy. It’s part bid for independence, after all.
Studies of self-feeding support the idea that kids will develop healthier relationships with food by giving them their independence from the start. They just need the tools.
Meanwhile, I was mulling over my own relationship with food and my struggle to rein back portion size. What was a healthy portion even meant to be?
The last time I remembered feeling properly “full” was when I was eight, and forced to finish an adult sized plate of stroganoff and pasta… So that I could be rewarded with dessert. I’m sure Mum thought she was just making sure that I was fed, but of course I was. Food is so abundant now. But how early did this pressure to overeat just a little at every meal start?
I looked at the obesity statistics worldwide and was shocked to realise this is now affecting infants as well as every other age group. Across so many cultural foods and food values, what did we have in common, and what could we all be doing so wrong?
My personal belief is that spoon feeding is a major factor.
I think that infants get used to routinely overeating just a little bit to please their parents, like I did for my Mum since before I can remember. And that when this happens at almost every meal, the effect adds up.
I fell further in love with my business and the impact it could have for future generations when I realised that there was already research exploring this idea. I discovereda few limiting factors on self-feeding becoming common practice, including that some kids just aren’t developmentally ready for the choking risk of anything solid enough for them to grab, and anything else can be a bit of a mess.
I realised that I had the potential to both help people, and to make significant impact. Nobody in 30+ years has been able to reduce our obesity rate anywhere in the world, and here was a part of the puzzle that I could perhaps solve -
All while making meals easier for parents and fun for bub! 😊
You can find our latest progress over in the News section. And if you sign up to our newsletter, you can get more personal, behind-the-scenes updates from the company, plus new recipes and tips for babies and toddlers.
If you’re only interested in Mashblox’ research in this space, then please follow at The Health Horizon
I’ve been grateful to connect with so many extremely talented people along the journey that believe in this enough to help it along. This includes customers! Please don’t underestimate the value of your feedback and engagement.
There are many more behind the scenes, but here are some of the front line making the magic happen: