Messy Play & Sensory For Babies & Toddlers
The delicious smell of baking bread, that breath taking view, your favourite song playing on the radio, the taste of your favourite food, the softness of your favourite scarf or throw .... Unless we’re unfortunate enough to lose one of them, most of us pretty much take our senses for granted, and forget that our parents or carers actually taught us how to use them.
From the very first day that they are born, children are designed to explore the world via their senses, which is why babies and toddlers touch everything and put things in their mouths. All children need help in learning how to use their senses - sensory/messy play is an important part of their development. This type of play also helps babies and children develop eye and hand control, fine motor skills, muscles and language. Most children over a certain age can rattle off their five senses without too much of a problem – hearing, sight, taste, touch, smell – any or all of which can be incorporated into messy/sensory play.
When you think about messy play, does sand, water and play dough automatically spring to mind? If so, it’s worth remembering that this type of play doesn’t just have to be about touch, you can involve all of the senses. Here are a few ideas that you could try at home:
*Splashing around and playing in the bath, or in water
*Letting baby go barefoot and feel the grass or sand between their toes
*Singing songs or lullabies, reading stories to your baby
*Blow some bubbles, your baby will enjoy watching them float and pop
*Lay baby on the grass, he/she will love feeling the breeze on their skin, watching the trees and the world around them
*Discovery bottles – pop a mixture of colourful items into a clean plastic bottle, such as beads, buttons, pebbles etc, baby will enjoy seeing the different colours and the sound that the bottles make
*Treasure box – for slightly older babies, pop a variety of items (such as ribbon, cloth book, fir cone, large shell, cuddly toy etc) into a box or basket for your little one to empty, explore, and play with the contents, vary it with colour schemes or themes
*Edible play dough – you could make your own in different colours, your little one will enjoy the colour and texture
*Pasta/spaghetti – older babies will enjoy the taste and texture of cooked spaghetti or pasta, you could also use food colouring, or squeeze the juice and pulp from some fresh fruit over the pasta, to give it colour and flavour
*Jelly – make up jelly in different colours/flavours and use different shaped moulds, your baby will love feeling the texture, squashing the jelly between his/her fingers, and perhaps having a taste too
*Treasure tray – put a mixture of shaped and coloured dried ingredients, such as pasta shapes, spaghetti, shredded paper, cereals, porridge oats, lentils on to a tray
*Sand – hide some little toy animals etc in the sand for your little one to find
*Sound guitar – simply stretch some elastic bands across a box, or a washing up bowl even, to make a guitar for your little budding pop star to play with!
*Squirt some shaving foam into a sealable food bag, securely seal it, and let your little one squish away!
*Baby massage – your local Children’s Centre may run these classes, or your Health Visitor should be able to sign post you to a local provider
*Sensory nature walk - feel the grass, some dirt, pick up leaves, hear the birds singing, feel the breeze, watch the trees blowing ....
*Mix up some porridge oats with water and pop it into a large bowl with a spoon, plastic cup, hand whisk, ball etc for some messy play fun
What is, or was, your favourite messy play activity? I’d love to hear about it
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Til next time!
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