Hello dear friend,
I hope you are safe and well during these extremely unprecedented times we find ourselves in. We are in #lockdown3 here in the UK and I find this one the most difficult, mentally and emotionally, to cope with. I think a lot of us do. But we need to keep the faith and believe in better days ahead. This too shall pass.
I have been wanting to write a blog post about sensory activities for such a long time but kept myself from it. Mainly because I was squeezing myself into a little box. We are a skincare brand, and I felt I needed to stick to skincare topics. But motherhood is so much more. With this more holistic approach in mind, I decided to follow my gut…
What is sensory play?
From birth, and through the early years, children use their senses to explore and understand the world around them. If you think back to childhood memories, they are usually associated with the senses. A particular song your mother used to sing at bedtime or the smell of your grandmother’s freshly baked bread.
Sensory play implies any activity that stimulates your baby’s senses. This includes movement, balance and coordination. These activities naturally encourage children to explore and investigate through play.
Providing opportunities for children to actively explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial for brain development. It helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. This supports your child’s cognitive growth, language development, motor skills, social interaction and problem solving. It also provides a great opportunity to bond with your little one and build a strong relationship.
Much of your baby’s learning during the first year will happen naturally as you talk, interact and make faces during the day. Babies have a short attention span, so keep these sensory sessions short. A few minutes on an activity each day is more than enough. Revisit activities as the repetition leads to familiarity. Plan activities for when they are alert, let your baby guide you as to when they’ve had enough. Never leave your baby unattended.
Despite years of teaching early years children, I felt so isolated when my eldest was born. After establishing breastfeeding and finding a sleep routine, I had no idea what to do to engage with him. Beyond the nursery rhymes, playing peek-a-boo and blowing raspberries, I was lost for new ideas. I understood the joke - babies do not come with a manual.
Luckily, I found a little play, music and movement class to attend on a weekly basis, which was a blessing. I got out of the house, met new mothers and inspiration for some new activities to do at home. Unfortunately, due to COVID -19, new mothers do not have the luxury to attend groups at the moment, and I can only imagine how disheartened and isolated you must feel. I also know that despite the joy they add to our lives, the day-to-day life with a baby can seem long and repetitive.
Over the next few weeks I will share some fun and easy activities help stimulate your little one’s development, strengthen bonds and bring on some adorable smiles and giggles. Make sure you follow us on Instagram where I will share additional ideas.
Edible finger painting
Edible finger paint is a wonderful sensory experience that smells, feels and tastes good. It is perfect for babies aged 6-18 months who are more likely to get paint covered fingers in their mouth. Homemade finger paint is easy to make using regular store cupboard items. You have a few options to inspire you.
A pot of yogurt is quick and easy finger-painting activity, you can even add a drop or two of liquid food colour if you prefer. Alternatively, you can make a cornflour edible paint. It is safe for babies to put in their mouths but tastes bland and would discourage eating.
4tbsp corn flour
2tbsp cold water
1 cup of boiling water
Liquid food colouring
- In a saucepan, mix the corn flour and cold water to make a paste.
- Pour in boiling water and stir until there are no lumps.
- Mix on a medium heat. You will notice some clear streaks forming in the mixture. Turn off the heat and keep stirring. It will thicken and turn into a fantastic custard-like consistency.
- Spoon into containers and add food colouring. Mix until combined.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. The paint does not contain any preservative in it. It is crucial to check that the paint has not expired before giving it to children.
If the paint has hardened from being in the fridge, add a little hot water to create a smooth consistency again.
I hope you have fun getting messy and make some colourful memories to last.
Photo by Bernard Hermant.