Messy play ideas for babies and toddlers, plus tested ways to embrace and contain the mess. Read the benefits of messy play for kids!
Sensory play for 1 year olds is critical…yet daunting. Often we turn to mess-free alternatives to avoid the mess and the choking hazards, but, allowing children to play freely and get messy is incredibly important to brain development and creative thinking.
Why should I look for messy play ideas for babies and toddlers?
As parents, we are exhausted and low on patience. The mere thought of intentionally creating more of a mess to clean up seems totally nuts. But, there are some ways you can minimize the mess made as a result of messy play, all while allowing your child to explore freely and creatively.
So, why is messy play so important? In a nutshell, playing messy allows us to think messy. This is the type of thinking that allows of to be creative, to think critically, and to explore our environment inquisitively.
Additionally, messy play stimulates the senses, furthering the connections made in the brain when learning. Simply playing, and especially playing messily, is learning.
Tips for embracing and containing the mess.
I’m 100% for messy play. In fact, I encourage it. But, I do not like cleaning up messes. Especially those that are completely avoidable. So, I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite tips for embracing messy play with babies and toddlers.
- Invest in some plastic shower curtains. We stock up on these at the Dollar Store, and lay them down when we are making a mess. If they can be washed off afterward, we do so. If not, they get recycled (used in the forest as a tarp, as a drop cloth for painting, etc.)
- Take the messy play into the bathtub. Bathtubs are excellent for containing mess. Strip kids down to their diapers and let them sit in a dry bathtub for their messy play time.
- Sit at a highchair with a splat mat underneath. The Bumkins splat mats are still permanently under our sensory table, and were great under messy play time at the highchair when my kids were babies.
- Get outside! Messy play is best done outdoors. In many cases, the mess can be hosed off, making many messy play ideas excellent in the warmer months.
- Just embrace it. 😉 Easier said than done, for sure. Read up on some of the benefits here, and they just might outweigh the costs for you.
Messy Play Ideas for 1 Year Olds and Toddlers
Babies and toddlers love messy play! It’s natural for them to want to explore all that is around them, in any way possible. However, there still are some parameters to follow to keep messy play safe with this age group. In general, finding edible messy play ideas, or those that don’t contain small parts as choking hazards, are best.
Some great materials to keep on hand for messy play with toddlers include:
- whipped cream
- whole milk yogurt
- dry cereal
- cooked pasta
- tapioca pearls
Here are some fun messy play ideas for toddlers using some of these ingredients:
Have so much fun embracing messy play ideas for 1 year olds. Your babies and toddlers will be so happy!