“Agh, you’re a mess”. It’s easy to forget they have go-go gadget arms. If you are getting ready to head out the door and you’ve got an 8 month old covered in applesauce, this can be a problem. But otherwise, let the children play!
“Messy Play” is a great sensory experience. Allowing babies and children to explore with their hands, fingers, and more helps develop fine motor and hand eye coordination. Using different materials engage all of senses including tactile, sight, smell, and most likely taste.
Sit her in the high chair, put on a plain onesie, bib, or smock and let her go to town. It might seem icky to you but its just fun play to her. Try a variety of textures like shaving cream, lotion, applesauce, chocolate pudding, crushed goldfish, finger paint, etc. You can also make homemade play dough and mix in coffee grounds, crushed candy canes, or cocoa powder for a scented experience.
Other projects by age:
6 months-1 year: Babies at this stage are at the beginning stage of food exploration. Drop a dollop of pureed food and a spoon on their tray. If baby is reluctant to get messy try using your finger or the spoon to draw in the puree. Baby see, baby do! You can also start but placing some on babies fingers and letting him eat it, so he knows that this stuff is good!
1-2 years: Cooking in the kitchen? Doing dishes? Sit your little one on the floor with a baking sheet/cake pan that has some flour, sugar, or breadcrumbs inside. Throw in a spatula or whisk. Then get out the vacuum.
2-3 years: Washable or edible finger paint in the bathtub. Let them go wild then hose ’em down. Edible paints: smashed blueberries/strawberries, applesauce, cocoa powder or Kool Aid and a spray bottle of water, yogurt, hummus, or pudding, the possibilities are endless!