Now I know that messy play sends some parents into a panic, but it really is so important for babies and toddlers development. Sensory play and exploring their world using all their senses really accelerates their learning. The good news is there are ways to encourage creativity and exploration without too much mess. Summer is the perfect time for getting crafty outside – great for minimising the clean-up in the house!
I know that lots of parents have a mould or printed footprint of their newborns tiny feet. As they get older it’s a great idea to let them stand in the different texture of play dough, salt dough or clay – a great keepsake for grandparents or other family members. If that is a step too far you could just have a shallow washing-up bowl full of water that they can use to make foot prints around the patio or garden. Older toddlers love watching their foot prints drying in the sunshine.
Another great trick is to put some paper plates of different coloured paint and then some cheap paper or even wallpaper rolled out. Kids can toddle up and down making a colourful rainbow of footprints. This is a great play date craft and having a washingup bowl of soapy water handy means that little feet can be washed off easily – with squeals of laughter to boot. We have a lovely Pinterest board full of inspirational ideas for footprint art.
Babies love to dance, and will often bounce along to a beat. It is important to encourage this as music stimulates so many areas of the brain. Bouncing and moving up and down helps them to develop the strong leg and core muscles needed for standing and walking. While babies and toddlers are dancing they are learning about their balance and spatial awareness. Dancing also allows them to express themselves and gets their whole body moving. It is an easy way to chase away grizzly moods and stop a toddler tantrum. Music really does change the way we feel so put on some music and dance away with your little ones. You never see a grumpy face while dancing!
All our Dotty Fish shoes have a non-slip suede sole, great for making sure that your little one doesn’t slip over while they are finding their groove on the living room floor.
Another great way to encourage sensory development is to have a sensory walk. Put a few trays of different textured items out and let toddlers crawl or walk through them. Obviously, you need to make sure that an adult is always there and make sure that nothing is a choking hazard. Cotton wool, bubble wrap, balls, sand, autumn leaves and artificial grass are all great things to put on your sensory walk. If you are doing it outside you could put different temperature water as well as shaving foam out. Let them squash, stomp and squidge it between their toes. If you are feeling brave you can even let them have mud to play with! Getting muddy is one of those parts of childhood that is sadly disappearing.
Letting babies and toddlers feel different textures and sensations is great for development. At Dotty Fish we always promote being barefoot as much as possible, when this isn’t possible then our shoes are the next best thing. We often touch lots of different textures with our hands but because our feet are often covered they don’t get as much sensory stimulation and our fingers. Allowing children to directly feel what they are walking on means stronger messages being sent to the brain. This in turn helps walking, balance and understanding of the world around them to better develop.
At Dotty Fish we love animals, mostly because babies and toddlers love animals! When thinking of craft ideas using the things that get your toddlers attention or engages them is always a good start. At dotty fish we have owls, monkeys, lions, bears and giraffes just to name a few. We also have dinosaurs so here are a few ideas just to get you started. Pinterest is fantastic for craft ideas and we are constantly updating our Pinterest board with new craft suggestions.
When starting crafts with little ones try not to focus on the end result too much, it’s the process that is important and when all the learning takes place. As a parent it is often hard to step back and not interfere too much. I used to sit on my hands or make my own while mine were little to stop myself from taking over! Also allow them to experiment with colours and materials, collage making and using nature are great ways to do this.
If you would like us to add any animals to our Dotty Zoo collection then let us know via social media, we are always looking for new shoe design ideas.
Children are often naturally ticklish, and it is a great pleasure to hear them laughing while they are being tickled. It is a way to form an incredible bond with your baby and toddler as well as teach them about their fingers and toes. Tickling brings their awareness to all the parts of their body. Counting toes and getting little feet to wriggle helps them develop muscles as well as awareness of their feet. It isn’t uncommon for babies to roll around on the floor sucking their toes once they know they are there!
While tickling can be great fun a word of caution. Babies and young children often can’t tell us when to stop and sometimes tickling can be overstimulating. Watch for signs that your little one has had enough of the game and move on.
If you are looking for other ways to encourage tactile sensations in very young babies then why not have a look at our range of hand made tag blankets. These have been made in the UK especially for Dotty Fish and are great for soothing little ones who are overstimulated. The ribbon tags are great for helping to develop fine motor co-ordination and the soft fabric is perfect for babies.
Simple water play is also fantastic for little ones. When putting out the paddling pool make sure to add lots of plastic cups, teapots, jugs and buckets. Emptying and filling are great for developing eye hand co-ordination as well as gross motor skills. When it’s really hot add a few ice blocks to the water tray – it’s a great way to develop fine motor co-ordination and to stimulate those senses again.
As always, we love to see your little ones wearing Dotty Fish shoes. If you are getting crafty with them with our shoes on why not tag us in the photo on social media. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
The Dotty Fish Team