There’s no denying that babies can be a mess. Our dining room floor looks like a middle school cafeteria half the time. And sometimes it’s hard to tell where the rug ends and the toys begin. But remember, every little mess gives Baby the opportunity to learn something new (and Mommy the opportunity to do squats yet again today). Here are some ways to have fun making a mess with your little one.
Paint Your Baby
Long before Baby can hold a paintbrush, you can do art projects together. Take advantage of those sleepy moments to capture footprints and/or handprints on picture frames, ornaments, and/or plates. It’s best to have two adults on hand — one to hold Baby and one to be the artist.
Give Baby a Canvas
As soon as Baby *can* hold a paintbrush, you’ve got an artist on your hands. Dress Baby in old clothes or throw on a smock and let the painting begin. You might be surprised to find that Baby’s art quickly becomes your favorite serving dish or hallway art.
Fill a bucket, a storage container, or a water table with a bit of water and let Baby splash around. (Ideally outside … maybe even “water” the lawn.) Include sponges, cups, squirt toys, balls, and anything else Baby might enjoy soaking. Just be sure Baby doesn’t spend the whole time drinking the water.
Dirt Don't Hurt
That dirt is tempting Baby, so why not go for it? Dress Baby in some grungy clothes or a diaper and let ‘em dig in the dirt. A plastic shovel or Baby’s hands will do the trick. Your little one will love the freedom and mess and you’ll love the pictures. Just be sure those dirty hands steer clear of Baby’s mouth.
Don’t let your fear of sand in Baby’s mouth stop you. (They learn quickly!) Whether you’re at the park or the beach, let Baby experience the strange sensations. Dry sand is fun for running through fingers and toes. Wet sand is fun for burying Baby’s feet, building “castles” to knock down, and digging with a shovel.
Fill a storage container or play table with water and dish washing soap and, boom, you have a world of bubbles. Buy bubble wands of different sizes to put on a show for Baby, or let your little one experiment with them.
While putting child locks on cabinets is a must to keep Baby safe, reserve one cabinet for baby-safe items to keep your little one busy while you work in the kitchen (though never under foot!). You’d be amazed how long babies can stack, try to fit lids, and even “mix” imaginary food.
If you’re baking a cake or cookies for a fun occasion (as if you need an excuse), let Baby do the decorating. Most sprinkle containers shake and sound like a rattle, and little ones tend to give even the most uptight perfectionists (like me) a good laugh.
You’ve seen how Baby loves to play with food to explore new textures, sounds, and smells. Well, consider this Baby Science 101. Set up your lab and let Baby squeeze a tomato. Dig inside a pumpkin. Squish an avocado. (Bonus: It’s bizarrely good stress relief for adults too!)
Let It Snow
If you get a package filled with those annoying packing peanuts, don’t let them go to waste. Clear a space and set Baby free in a winter wonderland. Sprinkle them like snow. Show Baby how to throw them over head. Make a snow angel. (Just don’t break your vacuum cleaner … pick as much as possible up by hand.)