Sensory play with your littlest ones is much harder than it is with a toddler. Toddlers can remember not to put things in their mouths, meaning that you don’t have to keep your eyes on them every moment. Unfortunately, infants in general tend to want to check out everything with their mouths—and who can blame them? At that age, it’s their primary way of exploring the world. Unfortunately, that makes it hard for them to find new and different things to explore…unless those things are already things that they can eat!
Many parents have experimented with a number of different “finger paint” methods using pudding, cool whip, or yogurt. That’s one awesome sensory activity that often yields keepsake results; but unfortunately, it’s not a viable option for dairy-sensitive children. What’s left for them?
Consider a sensory activity that they’re allowed to eat; that you can minimally supervise (obviously, you should never leave an infant completely unsupervised for any length of time); and that uses up some of that rice cereal that you have sitting around in your cabinet.
Wait…what? That disgusting, nasty-smelling rice cereal, that your baby ate about three bites of, but that you kept trying anyway, because it was supposed to be a great “first food?”
Yep. That rice cereal.
Pull out the box. By now, it’s probably been turned upside down a few times, maybe even smashed in your cabinet (oh, wait…that’s just if you have older kids who are also in the cabinets). Dump some of it into a bowl. Don’t worry about measuring; your baby doesn’t care, either. Now, add a little bit of oil. Coconut oil works great; olive oil is also a “healthier fat” option; but vegetable or canola would also be a viable option. Just a couple of tablespoons will do. If it seems too “cakey,” add a little bit more oil; if it’s too soupy, add more cereal…and then let your baby go wild! Don’t be surprised if baby decides to spend more time eating the cereal mixture than actually playing in it.
This works best if you do it in a confined space: a high chair, or inside a blow-up pool, bathtub, or even a box. It’s going to make a mess; but it will also buy you fifteen or twenty minutes of relative peace, and that’s a gift that must be cherished.
Baby rating: Yum!
Toddler rating: Interested…right up until the baby wasn’t playing anymore. It might have been more a case of jealousy than anything else.
Big kid rating: Meh.