Let's Get Messy!!!
Despite cake smashes being incredibly popular, there are still people who would prefer their child not to play with food or waste food and therefore would not wish their child to participate in anything of the sort. That, of course, is their choice and their right. There are various reasons people may give for this, including not wanting to encourage their children to play with food.
Ok messy food play and a 3 year old I don't agree with either. By the time children are this age, we are trying to instil good eating habits and manners at the table. However there's an age when messy play with food is really good; seven months to 24 months is a generalisation as really it's good for a baby who can sit independently, right up until that age when a sense of disgust starts creeping in; this can be at any age - sometimes it is really early and a 12 month old may not like messy hands and feet if they have been kept clean and wiped frequently as a baby, whereas some may like being messy way beyond their second birthday.
Messy Play is a great sensory experience. This type of play is exploratory learning, encouraging children to mould and manipulate materials, building up their fine motor skills and coordination.
When a baby plays, their hands invariably end up in their mouths. Remember that 11 month old on the beach this summer, hand in the sand, sand in the mouth....yuk...but babies do this...it's normal and natural so by using food you are making the messy play SAFE. Of course there'll always be the normal food risks so make sure food offered is pliable and in large enough pieces so that it cannot be swallowed whole. Also, we're not leaving babies alone doing this so the normal parental concern still applies. Would you rather they eat the coarse salty unedible sand or play amongst the edible pink spaghetti, knowing that sooner or later, their little hands are just going to reach into that exploring tooth-sore mouth....
Be it a birthday celebratory cake smash, jelly smash, or a messy play group using coloured spaghetti, this is a great way for your child to learn. Don't let your adult's sense of disgust ruin a perfectly good pastime!
I visited "Little Messes" last week, at 360 Play centre in Stevenage. It is run by two qualified experienced childcare professionals, who are now mums themselves. They are both paediatric first aid, epipen trained, DBS checked, food and hygiene certified and have experience with additional needs.
Their sessions are unique and they use a variety of edible materials in tough plastic trays throughout their sessions so children who regularly attend the sessions don't get the same thing each week. Today I saw trays of cooked coloured pasta, flour, jelly, weetabix, rice with chunks of capsicum peppers, and a celery with a pot of dip. Certainly lots to choose from! Messy children, mainly 2 and under, wandered between the pits in just nappies, their parents encouraging them to play, explore and learn. At the end of the session, the babies were treated to a warm baby bath so they went home clean and fresh. A win-win situation for the mums as they had tired babies and went home to clean houses, leaving the ladies at Little Messes to do the clearing up!
Book for Little Messes by contacting their Facebook page HERE