Mash potato sensory play

mash potato sensory playThis is another simple and edible messy play that I put together for Poppet. The idea came from an open day at her nursery where there was edible paint which was basically mashed potato and food colouring. I’d forgotten all about it until I found myself with left over mash one night. I put it in a Tupperware and put it in the fridge over night. The following day I divided the mash in to two (since I only have 2 food colourings in at present, must buy more colours soon) and add some food colouring to each. There was no measuring, I just added and mixed until I was happy with the colour.

IMG_9056 IMG_9047After nap time one afternoon, I put Poppet in her highchair wearing a wipe clean, long sleeve bib and gave her the two tubs of mash. She seemed puzzled and made no attempt to touch it. So I tipped the mash on to the high chair tray and started playing with it myself to encourage her. Still she didn’t seem interested in touching it. Eventually she started to very carefully touch the edges of the pile. I kept playing with it and rolled a small ball together and handed it to her. She started playing with it a bit more and as expected she tasted a few bits. Eventually after a lot of encouragement she really got interested and started squashing the mash enthusiastically. She seemed to really enjoy it for a short time & then just stopped altogether.IMG_9057 IMG_9084

This is a great sensory play idea for older babies and toddlers who still put everything in their mouths and one that I will be repeating again soon.


Easter sensory bag

Easter sensory bagI’ve seen a lot of sensory or discovery bags as ideas for sensory play for babies. Since Poppet is still at the stage where everything goes in the mouth, these seem like the ideal way to play with inedible messy substances and small objects. For this Easter themed bag I simply added a tub of hair gel (I bought supermarket own basics brand for about 50p) into a zip lock freezer bag and added a small packet of bunny table confetti (pack of 4 from a £1 shop). In order to ensure the bag did not leak (or Poppet didn’t figure out how the zip worked), I sealed the top with duct tape. As an extra safety measure (as Poppet has 6 teeth so she could potentially burst the bag if she chewed on it) I taped the bag down to her high chair tray.

IMG_8715Poppet prodded and poked the bag for a little bit and seemed to enjoy the activity. I think she is still a little young for this yet as it didn’t take long for her to start trying to bite the bag and also peel it off the high chair. Even so I have saved the bag and give it her to play with, supervised, for short periods every so often. I think this is a great activity for older babies and there are so many variations around on the internet that I can’t wait to try in the future.IMG_8707

The Diary of a Frugal Family


Sensory play for babies – jelly

IMG_8606aI’ve been doing bits of sensory play with my daughter for a while now but water play is about as messy as it has got at home. At christmas we took her to a messy play christmas party. We had so much fun and one of the activities she seemed to really enjoy was jelly in a tuff spot. I’ve been meaning to recreate this activity at home for her for some time but never quiet got round to it (I even had the jelly in the cupboard). Then last week Ghostwritter mummy shared a really useful blog post about messy play for under 2’s. I also had a bit of a chat with her on twitter about messy play for babies and came away really inspirded to start doing more with my daughter.  IMG_8605IMG_8606 We don’t have a tuff spot but I bought a clear plastic underbed storage box which I planned to use for sensory play. I tested it out with water play thinking Poppet would sit next to the box and reach in to play with the contents. However as you can see in this photo my daughter wasn’t happy to sit next to the box and instead climbed straight in to the tub of water, fully clothed! IMG_8608IMG_8609

This time I thought I’d try messy play with jelly in the bath with Poppet stripped to her vest. Simple clean up I thought (which was true) but what I hadn’t expected was for Poppet to pull herself up to standing using the side of the bath. Jelly makes the bath very slippy! Not quiet the stress free messy play I was hoping for as I constantly faught to stop her falling over in the jelly! How I wish we had a tuff spot. Sat in the middle of that with nothing with in reach to pull herself up on would be great. Although she’d probably crawl off leaving a trail of jelly behing her. IMG_8614

She did spend a short time sat squishing the jelly in her hand which she seemed to enjoy. Surprisingly she didn’t try to eat any of it, very unusual as everything goes in the mouth (and she did eat it at the christmas party but perhaps that was the sand that had been transferred form another activity that she enjoyed!). Excuse her messy hair. We did this activity straight after our swimming lesson.IMG_8618I’m not sure the standing up was her way of saying she’d had enough or more just that she could stand up. She’s never still you see. She loves to crawl, pull herself to standing and most recently climb on to things. Back to the drawing board, we’ve not done any messy play this week. I need to pick something else to try with her soon.


Valentine’s day for babies

I know it’s a bit late but I thought I would share some ideas for valentine’s day with a baby.

IMG_8202Yesterday at play group we made these super sweet but most importantly super simple valentines cards. We used paint pads to do hand and foot prints on to white paper hearts (which had been cut before the session). We then used glue sticks to stick the hearts to pink or red card and decorated them further with felt tip pens and foam hearts. I really enjoyed making these and I hope my husband will love it when he sees them tonight. We’ve been going to this particular toddler group for about a month now and the crafts are usually unsuitable for the babies so it was lovely to be able to join in this week. I’ve been meaning to do hand and foot prints for some time now as well. This would work well for babies of any age, just make sure you have a supply of baby wipes handy. A second person to help you is also beneficial especially for feet.

red treasure basketThis morning I set up a simple red treasure basket using lots of red toys and some red items I could find around the house. I have a lot of red in my kitchen so I included a whisk, spatula, measuring spoons and my keys are on a red ribbon so I included these. There were also toys such as a red ball, red piece of fabric from a toy, stacking cup, fabric stacking cube with a red textured side, a red lid from a set of foam bath letters and finally her happy apple toy which makes a lovely noise.

IMG_7927She sat for some time, happily taking items out of the basket and examining them before moving on to another item. Of course some of them went straight to her mouth. I used my judgement and removed the ones I was not happy with her chewing (keys fo example). Treasure baskets are lovely for babies to explore and themed ones can be so much fun. They are really simple to put together so you can put one together when you have time. As with all activities that use items that are not toys or not designed to be played with by babies, use your judgement and supervise your baby at all times.

IMG_7937Of course we have been reading some valentines related books as well. We’ve been enjoying guess how much I love you, (read what we thought of it here) a kiss like this and Babylit’s Romeo and Juliet this week.

IMG_8207Not strictly speaking an activity for babies but this morning I used her nap time to make some chocolates for my husband. These were really simple to make and older children could be involved with decorating them.

IMG_8194IMG_8200I started by melting some dark chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. I then poured the chocolate in to this heart shaped silicone mold (the round ones are silicone cupcake cases as I had too much chocolate for the mold) and finally decorated them with dried fruits and pistachio nuts. There are many options for decorating your chocolates other than dried fruit and nuts. You could use any number of the cake decorating sprinkles that you can pick up in all supermarkets or perhaps add a different type of chocolate on top of the first layer once it is set.IMG_8212The Diary of a Frugal Family

Christmas sensory play – emergency blanket and sensory ball

IMG_6864This is a really simple and inexpensive activity that anyone can put together for their baby. All you need is an emergency blanket and a sensory LED ball of some sort. I got 2 emergency blankets from a £1 shop some time ago and my baby has enjoyed playing with one for some months now. She loves to sit and crinkle the shiny blanket for ages and I’ve also started using it as part of sensory play more now she is getting older and more interested/developing.

Back in November I spotted this ball in a £1 shop again (a great place for picking up inexpensive bits for sensory play). I knew that my baby would love the ball as she is mesmerised by similar LED things that are used in baby classes I take her to. Basically the ball is full of fake snow (so it is like a snow globe when shaken) and it has a little father Christmas inside that wobbles around as the ball moves, as well as an LED light that flashes red, blue and green (for a short time after being bounced firmly).

IMG_6845 IMG_6836I spread an emergency blanket out and sit my baby in the middle of it. Then I bounce the ball to start the LED lights and roll the ball along the blanket to her. I also put the ball within her reach so she can reach for it. She loves tracking the ball and watching the lights, as well as reaching for the ball herself. The ball is light enough for her to be able to lift it with both hands. Sometimes when there is another adult around, we have held the blanket above her so the lights reflect on the blanket above her head which she seems to love.

IMG_7293 IMG_7295Please note, I am not trained in child development or early years education. I am just an enthusiastic parent who has picked up a thing or two from other blogs, books and various baby classes. Since neither of these items are intended as toys for babies, they are stored out of her reach (i.e. not in her toy box) and only played with under adult supervision.

If you are looking for more Christmas sensory play ideas please pop back later in the week for another post from me and have a look on my Christmas pinterest board where I am pining Christmas ideas for future years. My favorites so far for when my daughter is older are Christmas sensory play, snow dough and orange and spice Christmas play dough.

Baby play – 0-4 months

Baby playFor the first 6-8 weeks most of my baby’s awake time was spent taking care of her needs such as feeding and changing. There was very little awake time. Baby play during this period consisted of talking to her during changes and baths and showing her the odd toy that she had no interest in. She wasn’t fussed about the toys on her play mat or over her bouncy chair until at least 8 weeks, possibly a bit later. I took her out to various baby groups but these were more for my benefit than hers. Once she started to have more awake time, like all the other first time mums I have met, I wondered what to do with her. So this post is to share the things that my baby has enjoyed during her first 4 months. I am no child development expert so I do not claim that these are the best toys or activities for babies. Also remember that all babies are different and what one likes another may not enjoy so much.

babyplay1Bouncy chair & play mat – we love our bouncy chair and play mat. My little girl happily plays with the toys hanging above her head for at least 20 minutes. She smiles away and “talks” to them as she hits them. She grabs the butterflies and stares at them like she is taking in all the details. We have this mamas & papas bouncy chair but in the previous design. We love the design and colours of our one plus it looks so comfy (even when she was tiny due to the newborn insert) and the vibrate and music are a nice addition. This is the play gym we have. We like it as it is bright and colourful, compact compared to many play gyms on the market but big enough for its purpose. The only negative is that the butterflies and parrot are attached by velcro, which is nice for allowing them to be interchanged but our baby is now able to pull them off.

IMG_6091Tummy time mat – we all know how important tummy time is but you don’t need any fancy toys. However we were given this one which my baby loves. She is happier on her tummy for a lot longer than when I simply put her on her tummy on a mat. This is the newer version of this mat.

Car seat/pram toys – we have the Lamaze firefly shown in the top photo (it seems like every other baby does too!). Again my baby seems to really like it. It has a black and white side and a very colourful front. There are lots of textures, it has a bell inside and a squeaky bit. It also makes the crinkling sound that babies seem to love. We always know when she is asleep in the car as the crinkling sound stops.

IMG_6108Baby links – these are a more recent addition. They are great for little hands to practice grasping and also nice to chew on.

IMG_6097Homemade rattles – this is proof you don’t need to spend a fortune on baby toys. This is an empty water bottle with dried chickpeas. You can vary the sound it makes by changing the speed that you shake the bottle (or the angle that you tilt the bottle to). An important safety note here, although the top is screwed on tight I would never leave my baby unattended with this toy.

Bubbles – another cheap idea picked up from a baby class. The ones I bought blow lots of bubbles at once and my little girl loves to watch them floating around, you can really see her tracking them with her gaze. The only thing I watch out for is that they don’t land on her face, especially her eyes.

Books – both myself and my husband love books & we want to share this with our daughter. We have a few board books and a few picture books at the moment but I know we will keep adding to this. At the moment she will happily sit & listen to a story & look at the pictures. I have been sharing some of these books with you on the blog and will continue to do so (you can find them here).

IMG_5011Nursery rhyme and action songs – I’m a terrible singer but my little girl doesn’t seem to think so. She loves me singing to her and especially when we do the actions together. In the early days singing to her distracted her when she didn’t enjoy getting dressed or having her nappy changed. I had forgotten many of the nursery rhymes so I purchased an inexpensive nursery rhyme CD (£2.50 on sale in the early learning center) & also this beautifully illustrated book (that I reviewed here). I also try to take her along to one of the free rhyme time sessions at our local library most weeks.

Baby yoga – we started baby yoga at 6 weeks and I’ve really enjoyed it. It is a nice mix of exercises for mums and babies with a couple of action songs. There is also a short relaxation at the end but this is never all that relaxing as at least half the babies at crying. I’ve always fed my baby at this point as she has her best naps after a yoga class (usually 3 hours). I regularly do the baby massage and exercises at home with my baby as well. We also learnt a number of different ways to do tummy time which can be useful if your baby doesn’t enjoy being on their tummy.

Disclosure – this is not a sponsored post. All these items were either purchased by us or given to us by family or friends. I just like them so much I wanted to share them with you all.