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Edible Play

At Tots Play we know that young children learn best when using their whole body and all their senses. They naturally learn from the world around them and as both a baby and toddler your little one is a sensory sponge, soaking up everything they can from all the experiences and opportunities they are presented with.

While we want to encourage our toddler’s curiosity and desire to explore, any parent to a little person will know this also means being vigilant during their playtimes; as everything goes in their mouth! Its innocent enough, they just want to use their taste sense, and the sensory receptors in their mouth to investigate. It’s great for them to be able to do that, and provides lots of learning, but it isn’t always a safe option with all items and may lead you to avoid some play opportunities.

There are lots of ways to give your little one some fantastic play experiences and you some peace of mind though, such as these edible play ideas. They offer lots of sensory fun with the added bonus of being completely safe for little mouths. This means you can relax more and enjoy the experience of playing with your child. We include some of these during sensory play at classes, but they are fun to try at home too.

1) Beach in a Box

Kids love sand but it’s can be a nightmare when your toddler start shuffling the stuff in their little mouth. The beach in a box is a great substitute that is fun, safe and can be played with inside or out. All you need is a large plastic box (low sided, underbed storage boxes work well) and some food items from your cupboard.

You could use;

  • Porridge oats

  • Rice

  • Semolina

  • Crumbled up biscuits

  • Anything else that looks sand like and fun!

You can add water and rocks or shells from a real beach if you want. Let children play using spoons and smaller boxes or even a bucket and spade for a more authentic feel. They might not be able to get a sandcastle out of it but they will love filling up the bucket and getting their hands and even feet in there to feel the textures. If you do it inside you might want to put a messy mat (or even a black refuge bag) underneath the box and your child, to make cleaning up at the end of the play a lot easier.

2) Spaghetti Snakes and Worms

The idea of playing with slimy snakes or worms might seem a little disgusting to you, but can be very exciting for your toddler. Luckily though you don’t actually go hunting in the garden there is a really fun, safe alternative; Spaghetti. Cooked spaghetti provides a really interesting texture for your little one to explore, and they can exercise their imagination too if they do want to pretend they are wriggly worms or hissing snakes!

You can keep the spaghetti plain, or you might want to make things even more fun by dying it different colours. To do this you also need zip close freezer bags, cooking oil and food colouring.

  • Simply start by cooking some spaghetti

  • Once cooked and cooled put it in the freezer bags, you need as many bags as colours you plan on using.

  • Add a few drops of colouring and cooking oil to each bag and mix it up.

  • Close the bag and leave for at least an hour

  • Open the bags and empty the coloured spaghetti into bowls or boxes. You can mix all the colours up or keep them separate, it’s up to you.

  • Let your little one explore the spaghetti however they would like, and add utensils or hide small toys amongst it to create different play experiences.

This activity is also great when your toddler is getting older and becoming a pre-schooler. They still love sensory experiences and the spaghetti can be twisted into shapes, letters and numbers.

3) Jelly Play

Jelly is another great texture for your toddler to explore, and different flavours, colours and scents add to the sensory experience.

  • Make up a small amount of jelly and let it cool.

  • You could keep some of the cubes of jelly as they are too.

  • Put some on a tray or messy mat and let your little one make their own discoveries about what they can do with it.

4) Edible paint

Painting is a great way for toddlers to explore colour but the paint brushes or painted fingers inevitably end up in their mouths. You can buy non-toxic paint but they are quite expensive and not necessary when there are lots of easy, quick ways to make it yourself that will be completely edible.

  • Yogurt – just add food colouring to plain yogurt

  • Jars of stage one baby food can be used as paint straight from the jar

  • Fruit paint - puree some fruit and paint with it! Good examples are blueberries or strawberries

Provide paper and brushes, a piece of foil can work well too, or just explore moving the “paint” around with fingers on a high chair tray. The creative options are endless – but a bath may be in order afterwards!

Get More Ideas and Save!

If you want more sensory, physical and musical ideas to try at home our Play at Home Guides are the perfect solution. We have separate guides for Discovery Tots (younger babies) and Social Tots (older babies and toddlers), so you can choose the stage that’s right for you. Did you know you can get 80% off the price of these when you sign up for our Top 10 Playtime Tips? Fun doesn’t get much more affordable!

We would love to see how you get on with your play times at home, so please do share your pictures and experiences with us on Facebook.

Find Even More Inspiration at Our Classes

We include opportunities for sensory exploration at all our classes, so if you need a bit more inspiration, or prefer our class leaders to clean up the messier activities, then come along and explore your child’s sense with us, as well as enjoying a wide range of other activities specially designed to enhance their development in a way that is fun, engaging and supportive.

Find your nearest class HERE, and come and join us soon!

Happy Playing! x

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