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August 03, 2017

Let Your Toddler Explore - It's National Play Day!

Here are 5 tips to help your toddler explore their environment.

1.  Use everyday objects as toys:
For example:
•  wooden spoon and an old pan as a drum set
•  keep a bit of the kitchen cupboard free for your toddler to explore and fill it with safe items, pots and pans, wooden spoon, whisks (remember to use different material such as metal, wood, plastic, fur, cloth)
•  make a sensory treasure basket for babies: fill a basket with safe items as above.  Let your child sit in a comfortable and safe position and explore all the different textures.
•  Take a trip to the hardware department and look at items that will be fun, safe and cheap to buy.

2.  The messier the better:
Maybe parents don’t like it but toddlers love to get messy and messy play is good so your toddler in future won’t be scared of touching new things.
Play with sand, water, natural elements from your garden like leaves, stones and pinecones; plan a trip to the beach on a lovely day to collect sea shells.

3.  Talk, read, sing:
Talk to your baby or toddler all the time and point to items or areas of their body when singing songs or talking: for example during the bath say “Let’s wash your little toes, or hands…” or when you dress them or undress point out the clothes and name them e.g. socks, shoes.
Read books: sensory ones, colourful ones, homemade ones.  Sit comfortably with your toddler, put on funny voices and enjoy it together.
Sing songs that will help them develop their body awareness e.g. family fingers, round and round the garden, forward and backward.

4.  Go outside:
The best way to explore the world is to go out.  It may seem stupid advice but sometimes parents are so concerned about their toddler’s health that they prefer to stay at home in a safe (and possibly boring) environment.  Let your child explore their environment in all weather.

5.  Listen to your child:
Maybe your toddler doesn’t talk yet but he/she has got a thousand languages he can use to speak to you.  Look at him/her and try to understand what he likes and doesn’t like; what makes him happy or sad.  Keeping that in mind, decide what activity, play or cuddle is best for him at that moment.

Image of Sharon Patrick
Written by
Sharon Patrick

Temporary Habilitation Worker at Visibility. Sharon says: "Sensory play for children is so important - you need to let them explore their environment and get messy!"