Keep your kewpie entertained for hours with these educational-yet-fun open-ended play ideas.

Touch and feel: Tactile activities for your tyke

If baby gyms and bouncy-seats aren’t cutting it anymore to keep your wee one entertained, then it might be time to take playtime up a notch. As he becomes more inquisitive and aware of his surroundings, your Curious George-let will start spending a big chunk of his free time exploring and figuring out how things work (including the things on his hands and in his head). And what better way to feed this curiosity then with sensational sensory play?

Here are some great DIY play things to tickle your tyke’s fingers, toes, tongues, eyes and ears. The best part? Almost everything you need to make them can be found around the house.


Fill up small empty plastic bottles with coloured water/water beads or things that make a sound (popcorn kernels, uncooked rice or coloured sand). Make sure you seal the bottle cap tightly with heavy-duty tape so nothing spills out. Watch bubba as she has a field day turning the bottles up and down and shaking them. The colour and the sounds are sure to attract her attention.


If bubba is dextrous enough to open and close things, this eco-friendly board will be perfect for him. Collect the lids from used baby-wipe packets and glue them individually onto a big foam board. Inside each lid, glue different types of textures — a piece from a silk shawl you hardly use, old carpet samples, bubble wrap or sandpaper. When your sweetie opens each lid there is something different to touch and feast his eyes on. Make it a bonding experience by sitting next to him as he explores to introduce and describe the various textures (talking to him will work on his language comprehension!).


Get ready for things to get messy! Tape large sheets of paper to the floor (either indoors or outdoors) and put out a selection of child-friendly (and easy-to-wash) paint on paper plates. Junior will dip her tiny fingers (and maybe toes and butt) into the paint, squish it and maybe even taste it! It may not result in a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre, but bubba will enjoy it thoroughly — while you enjoy some much-needed rest time.


Fill an empty basket that has a lid (or a shoebox) with safe and simple items for your sweetie to explore. Put in objects such as bowls, measuring spoons, a shirt, clothes pegs, raffia string and a block of wood. The possibilities are endless. Picking and prodding through the loot teaches your little one about textures and the different sounds each of them make, especially when he hits them against something else. Keep it interesting by switching the contents every few days.


Fill a small, shallow tub or pail with water and throw in waterproof toys and objects. Not only will it be super-fun to fish around after them, toss them out and back in (you wish), but which baby would give up an opportunity for some splashing good times?


Forget your rule about not playing with food once in awhile. Cook up a batch of spaghetti, separate it into about four parts and mix each part with different food colourings. Then toss everything into your baby’s bath tub, strip your little one down to his diaper and put him in as well. Watch him have a ball of a time tugging at the pasta and exploring the vibrant colours. Baby-led weaning, here we come!


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