Messy play is the ultimate sensory experience, it is one where our little ones learn to co-ordinate all of their senses to taste, touch, hear, smell and look at all the vibrant colours. They do all of this while co-ordinating their body position, developing their motor skills and maintaining their balance. Messy play is a social activity, little ones learn about cause & effect, hand to eye co-ordination, they are able to make choices and they are able to communicate these with others.
We have put together some words of advice on taking your little one along to our sessions which we hope that you find helpful.
Messy play is messy! Your little one will need a complete change afterwards so be prepared with a towel, wipes and lots of fresh clothes. There is no facilities to wash babies down at our venues so please be prepared to wipe them down and wash them later. We set up a changing area and would hugely appreciate it if you could use the area so we can contain the mess.
You’ll get messy too, a change of top & trousers is recommended. The best messy play happens when you get involved with your little one so be prepared to embrace the mess!
Please bring an old vest or baby grow for your baby to wear while they participate in messy play so they don’t get cold. We can’t allow babies to participate in just their nappies.
It is important that your baby has started weaning and is able to sit independently. They will be keen to taste some of the edible mess so we want to make sure that they are able to cope with food and tastes. You’ll need both hands when playing so it is important that your little one is a confident sitter. Please don’t take your little one along until they are at this stage, we want them to get the most out of the experience.
We set up messy play stations and you move round them with your little one. You are responsible for supervising your child while they participate.
All of our messy play stations have a printed list beside them telling you all of the ingredients that are each tray or basin. It is up to you as a parent to decide whether you want your little one to participate in the activity. Our trays are either edible, taste friendly or a texture bin so please be aware of the contents of the station before letting your little one dive in.
You can prepare your little one for messy play. When your child is in their high chair, give them food to touch and play with, let them put their hand in their yogurt, play with cold pasta, feel some beans and play with their puree. It will be messy but it really will help your little one integrate their developing senses.
We carefully choose our messy play activities to make sure that there are wet, dry, sticky, colourful and plain to ensure that we provide a balanced sensory experience. All of our stations are age appropriate and safe for our little ones
There are lots of plastic toys at our classes. We want familiar textures to be available at the same time that we are introducing new ones so there are lots of plastic toys, cups, ducks and spoons at our sessions to give a sense of familiarity.
Messy play can be overwhelming. When you see the amount of skills and sensory input that your little one gets from the experience of coming to messy play it is easy to see why. We are around to help and it is common for babies to be hesitant initially. It is a good idea to bring the mess to them initially rather than sitting them straight in a basin or tray, introduce the activity gently. If your little one is overwhelmed, please don’t hesitate to speak to us. We’ll grade the activity (we are occupational therapists after all) and put together a little messy play station just for them and we can give you lots of advice on introducing messy activities at home too.
We open our doors about 5 minutes before messy play starts, it is so we can create the messy stations just before play starts and that the materials aren’t sitting out for any length of time before your little one plays with them.
Most of all have fun, get stuck in and embrace the mess. The best thing is we’ll do all of the tidying up!