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Gift Guide: Wooden toys made in South Africa

When it comes to supporting local, one of the easiest ways we, as parents, can do so, is by buying wooden toys made in South Africa! There's just something extra special about a toy lovingly crafted from nature... It's a win for your child, and a win for your home -...

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21 Taste Safe sensory play ideas for babies and toddlers

by | Mar 31, 2020 | Baby's First Year, Just Kids, Play + Learn | 0 comments

Being home with your little one is amazing but usually, we find ourselves needing to juggle… Playing mom, housekeeper, cook and even businesswoman. That’s when planning a fun activity that your little one can enjoy independently (yet always supervised of course) comes in handy, even more so if it includes taste safe sensory play ideas…

During the 1st 2 years of your little one’s life, they learn the MOST through sensory play. Touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, experiencing AND tasting everything around them. They need these play opportunities to develop and solidify millions of neuron pathways connecting every, incredible part of their brain. It’s an exciting time that we as parents get to help nurture through play.

We used the “invitation to play” approach with all 3 of our girls and now, years later, we are happy to have 3 little ladies with wild imaginations that can easily keep themselves happy and entertained.

So what is an “invitation to play”?

Pretty much what a lot of parents already do… You plan and set up an activity or collection of toys in such a way that it “invites” your little one to “come over and play”. The items can be explored, picked up, touched and basically played with in any way the child sees fits. Over time this type of play fosters independent play, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Sensory play, in particular, works great for this and that’s why I decided to share 21 Taste Safe sensory play ideas for babies and toddlers!

21 Taste Safe Sensory Play Ideas For Babies And Toddlers

CLICK HERE to download and print our 21 Taste Safe sensory play ideas for babies and toddlers

How to make: Taste-safe slime 

For the easiest slime recipes, I recommend local Crafty mommy blogger; In these Stilettos’s Edible Jello Slime. Rebecca has so many wonderful options – and not just slime. She’s a Pinterest queen sharing incredible play ideas weekly.

Our go-to however has been Psyllium Husk slime – just because it’s virtually taste-free.
  • 3 Tbs of Psyllium Husk (We use Health Connection Wholefoods Psyllium Husk found at Faithful to Nature)
  • 3 cups of water
  • Food colouring

Bring the water to a boil. Add a few drops of food colouring. Add the psyllium husk. Turn the heat down to medium, stir NON-STOP. The mixture will begin to thicken. DON’T STOP STIRRING. You’re looking for a gel-like consistency. Remove from the heat. Pour onto a baking tray and let it cool down completely.

* You’ll need to keep an eye on your slime as it cools. Turn over once when cool enough to touch otherwise it forms a layer over the top.

Start playing once it is completely cooled down.

* CookPad South Africa also included an Edible Slime made with honey in their Lockdown Activity books for kids. You can find it HERE.

How to make: Pudding oobleck
  • 1/4 cup of instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup of Cornflour
  • 1/3 cup of warm water

Combine the instant pudding mix and half of the cornflour in a bowl. Add the water and stir until slime begins to form. Add the rest of the cornflour a little at a time while stirring. You won’t be able to keep stirring so use your hands to knead into oobleck’s consistency.

Taste Safe Slime

How to make: Edible play dough
  • 1 ½ cups of baby rice cereal
  • 1 cup of gluten-free Cornflour (no need to potentially upset young, developing tummies)
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of fruit puree – your little one’s favourite
  • 1 Tbs water

Combine the cereal and cornflour. Add the oil and fruit puree. MIX WELL!

* Add more cereal if the consistency is too wet or more water if it’s a little dry. Continue to mix well and knead using your hands till a soft dough forms.

PLEASE NOTE: You’ll need to store your dough in an airtight container in the fridge. It won’t last long but it’s the BEST 1st play dough for baby. (Found years ago on Learning4kids.net)

THIS ONE IS A TREAT but contains loads of sugar. Still a winner though… Cake Mix Play Dough (Found recently on MamasInstincts.com)
  • 1 Box of vanilla cake mix
  • ½ Cup of melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tbs of cornflour
  • 5 Tbs of powdered sugar
  • OPTIONAL: Sprinkles

Mix the cake mix and oil using a mixer or by hand. Add the cornflour. MIX. Slowly add the powdered sugar little-by-little.

* Before adding the sprinkles, check the consistency of your dough. Add more sugar until you reach a consistency that you like.

How to make: Moon sand
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil – any you have
  • OPTIONAL: Food colouring

Use 1 bowl per colour. Divide the flour between your bowls. Divide the oil and add to each bowl. Use a fork to combine. Now add a few drops of food colouring to each and MIX WELL.

How to make: Edible paint

We have a few options here; the most popular being:

  • Yoghurt + food colouring

If your little one is allergies to dairy; rather go for:

  • Baby rice cereal + food colouring
Simply prepare the cereal to the consistency you desire and then just add in a few drops of colour.
For something different; why not try:
  • Jelly paint

Prepare your jelly as per usual BUT only adding a little bit of water at a time. Stir and keeping a close eye on the consistency – you want it to look and feel like a fingerprint. Your colours will be determined by the flavours you chose. When using clear gelatine, you could add food colouring. Jelly paint will resemble watercolours and work best when painted on white surfaces or paper. (Stir it to keep it from setting).

How to make: Rainbow oats 
  • A few cups of large flake whole grain rolled oats (1 cup per colour)
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • Paper towels
Mix 1 and 1/2 Tbs of water with a few drops of food colouring – be bold! The oats absorbs the colour. Make sure you have enough liquid to coat the oats but don’t soak them. Now add the oats. Coated evenly. Transfer into a piece of paper towel, spread evenly and leave to dry completely in a sunny spot. Repeat with all the colours.
How to make: Rainbow pasta
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • Airtight container to mix your spaghetti in (1 for each colour)
  • Food colouring

Divide the cooked spaghetti into your various colour containers. Add a few drops of food colouring to each container. Seal well and SHAKE! (Older kids love to help with this) SHAKE, shake, shake! Till all the spaghetti is coated well. Repeat for each colour. Rinse well under running water and PLAY!

How to make: Rainbow rice 
  • 1 cup of uncooked white rice
  • 1 Tbs of white vinegar
  • A few drops of food colouring

Mix everything together in an airtight container. Make sure every grain is coated. Transfer into a piece of paper towel, spread evenly and leave to dry completely in a sunny spot. Repeat with all the colours.

How to make: Edible sand
  • Any lightly coloured crackers or biscuits that your little one loves. Do a mix of leftovers…
  • A food processor

Blend your crackers in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor use a bag and a hammer (but it will take some time). Blend until you get the desired sand consistency and that’s it!

How to make: Edible mud
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbs of cocoa
  • 2 cups of water

Mix together in a bowl and you’re done!

How to make: Cloud dough for babies
  • 1 Cup of baby rice cereal
  • 3 Tbs of melted coconut oil

Mix in an airtight container and let it cool. DONE!

How to make: Chickpea foam
  • The liquid from two cans of chickpeas
  • A few drops of food colouring
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Mix everything together in a bowl.  Beat for 5 minutes using a hand- or stand mixer till foamy!

Taste Safe Snow

How to make: Play snow
  • 8 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil (coconut, olive, canola… Whatever you have)

Split the mixture in half. Mix well in a large airtight container. Once thoroughly mixed pour into your sensory bin and mix by hand making sure the oil and cornstarch is evenly distributed. Easy to clean “crunchy” snow dough to explore and make snowballs with. (Put it in the fridge for a frosty feel).

How to make: Ice cube paint
  • Ice cube trays, icicle trays, baby food freezer trays – whatever you have
  • popsicle sticks, spoons – anything that can act as a handle. I’ve even seen clever Pinterest Mamas use Mega Blocks
  • Food Coloring
  • Water

Fill your trays with water. REMEMBER to leave room for the ice to expand. Add a few drops of food colouring to each section and mix carefully. Pop in the freezer and wait. In a few hours, you’ll be painting.

21 Taste Safe Sensory Play Ideas For Babies And Toddlers

5 Ways to make play last longer…

  1. Let them be giving them the opportunity to explore without being told what to do.
  2. If your little needs a bit of encouragement, add fun extras like toy cars, spoons, bowls, play animals, kid-safe tweezers, just to name a few.
  3. If you’re nervous about the mess, place your little one safely in the tub or shower – just be sure they can’t open any faucets which could be dangerous. A big enough container works well too.
  4. Combine ideas! Rainbow pasta hidden in edible mud makes the perfect swamp…
  5. Ask questions and play along, making memories together.

Sensory Play Ideas For Babies And Toddlers

Disclaimer: Technically all the recipes mentioned above are edible, BUT they are not meant to be consumed as food or a snack. The idea is to give our littles some safe, non-toxic alternatives to popular play options.

Remember to share your “Taste Safe sensory play ideas for babies and toddlers” too in a comment below…

And for more ideas on how to have fun with the kids… Check out our 60 Activities to do with the kids at home post too.

PHOTO CREDIT | Photos by Celeste Van der Berg from Celeste van der Berg Photography.

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