If your toddler smears the high chair tray with his pudding, strings spaghetti from the chair or dumps oatmeal on his head, don’t despair: Messy eaters learn more. That’s the word from researchers at the University of Iowa, who have concluded that toddlers are better able to learn language when they get messy with their food. Led by Larissa Samuelson, an associate professor in psychology, the team studied how 16-month-old children learn words for nonsolid objects — from oatmeal to glue. The toddlers who interacted the most with the foods (parents, interpret as you want) were more likely to correctly identify them by their texture and name them. The setting mattered, too, it seems. Researched found that children in a high chair were more apt to identify and name the food than those in other venues, such as seated at a table.