Teach colors with food coloring on your tongue!

Eleni’s creative hack could dovetail nicely with the colored milk trick

My niece is two years old and while she is learning to count (so far she can go from one to mawebban [11]) she has had trouble learning her colors. I bought a package of food coloring and every time I’d go visit Jaelyn and I’d use the food coloring to change my tongue a different color. I’d stick out my tongue and ask her, “Jae, what color is my tongue?” If she’d have trouble I’d help her out by telling her the color. After a few weeks she knew all of her basic colors and was looking forward to my visits more than usual. If nothing else it’s good for a few giggles. My nephew Aidan is 9 months and he loves it.

Now that’s a devoted aunt.

Related: Teach toddlers their colors using M&Ms

Get updates from Asha.

I'll email you when I have new writing, events, or news to share. This isn't an automated newsletter -- it's a personal note from me. Low-frequency (I respect your attention & inbox), privacy always, unsubscribe any time.

*indicates required


  1. Kate says

    Ok, I kept mum on the last post about food coloring, but…is it safe to be ingesting this amount of straight up food coloring? I’m not thinking that a kid will grow a third leg from the occasional birthday cake icing, but if you’re coloring every glass of milk with a few drops, that could add up to a lot of food coloring!

    Maybe try to find a natural kind for this kind of thing??

  2. says

    I can’t think of one instance food coloring has hurt someone so far. At least not that I’ve heard of.

    Think of it as your child or you (if your doing this hack) eating a wild colored sucker or cookie.

    Suckers, candies and certain foods change your tongue colors as well using the same basic food colorings.

    I agree, what a devoted aunt! *chuckles*

  3. Carina says

    “I can’t think of one instance food coloring has hurt someone so far. At least not that I’ve heard of.”

    We must be of different generations. I remember hearing all about the dangers of Red Dye #2 as a kid. It turned out to be a carcinogen. After the attention that one drew, many other food dyes also had to be withdrawn after they too proved unhealthy. Even with the ‘safe’ ones, it’s not uncommon for someone to have a food dye allergy.


    FWIW, I appreciate Kate raising the question. I thought both posts were clever. But she’s right that it’d be wise to watch how much dye you wind up using. Safety testing is based on an assumption of “normal” exposure. Having a little more than normal shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re ingesting a food additive in unusually high quantity, that does put you outside the tested range. At that point, whether you’re still safe or not is a crapshoot.