Mess. Just why is it so appealing to toddlers? You might be surprised to learn that getting messy serves a purpose other than keeping the cleaning product industry in business; in fact, making a mess with hands-on play is an essential activity to aid your child’s growth. Here we’ll explain how messy play has an important function other than good old-fashioned fun. We’ll also share some of our favourite messy play ideas for toddlers – just make sure you have a bath and a change of clothes on hand for the clean-up operation!
How does messy play benefit my child’s development?
From investigating the tactile properties of spaghetti bolognese to making mud pies in the garden, messy play plays a vital role in helping babies and toddlers to investigate and make sense of the world around them. This form of learning also has other benefits:
- Getting to grips with different textures and consistencies helps young children to develop their gross and fine motor skills as they manipulate a variety of interesting solids and liquids, all with different qualities.
- Hand-eye co-ordination is another key skill that can be practised while your child explores the many exciting objects and textures at their fingertips in a good messy play session.
The advantages of messy play for parents
So, we’ve sold it from a child development point of view, but can messy play ever be a good thing for spillage-averse parents? Here are some of the plus points:
- Messy play is cheap. There’s no need to shell out on the latest electronic toys to keep your toddler entertained; they’re likely to get far more enjoyment and stimulation out of a mud kitchen in the garden or a tubful of water and a few jugs and cups.
- Messy play is versatile. Messy play ideas for toddlers can be devised to suit any time of year and any location – so you can get out into the garden when the weather’s nice, or stay indoors on a wet day.
- Messy play is fun! Give it a try and you might find you enjoy getting your hands dirty just as much as your little ones. What’s more, messy play in a controlled environment may reduce the temptation for your toddler to experiment with nappy cream, toothpaste or lipstick as soon as your back is turned!
Easy and fun messy play ideas
All of our Toad Hall Nurseries offer a variety of messy play activities for our little ones to indulge in. Here are some messy play ideas for toddlers that you might like to try at home:
- What could be more appealing than a brightly-coloured, oozing mixture? Use one of these safe online recipes suitable for toddlers and older kids alike.
- Add food colouring to water to make attractive ice cubes, and help your child to learn about solids and liquids.
- Edible fun. Combine cookery with sensory exploration and allow your child to knead bread dough, crack eggs into your cake mixture or break up cubes of jelly. They’ll also enjoy getting involved in the washing up afterwards!
Although we love to make a mess here at Toad Hall Nurseries, hygiene is always a top priority and as you’d expect, we ensure that children wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.
Read more about our approach to childcare to discover how our messy play ideas for toddlers and other activities are tailored to assist and support your child’s development at every stage.