5 fun sensory play ideas with food

I’d love to do sensory play or messy play with my toddler. But every time she comes within a metre of paint or mud she manages to put it in her mouth. EVERY TIME. And I value my sanity too much to let her anywhere near glitter.

But it is possible to give toddlers a sensory play experience if you use edible ingredients that you have in the house. We promise, these ideas are fast, fun and – almost – mess-free.

1) Butter me up: make edible dough with this peanut butter recipe!

You’ll need: 1 cup of smooth peanut butter, 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of honey (just enough to make it stick together)

What to do:

Mix the ingredients in a bowl – and that’s it! Let your little one get creative and make lots of different shapes, animals and more.

2) Chocolate paint: a crowd pleaser that’s safe for toddlers and fun for tweens.

You’ll need: hot chocolate and water

What to do:

1. Just make a strong cup of hot chocolate then let it cool (we did 3 teaspoons in a small cup).
2. Now your kids can use it like watercolour paint. We wanted ours to look like cave paintings, so we painted lions, tigers and bears.

3) Under the sea: Make a fun ocean sensory tray!

What you’ll need: blue food colouring, 200g rice, ocean-themed toys, small scoops or cups, ice cubes

What to do:

1. Colour water with blue food colouring and then pop it in an ice cube tray to freeze.
2. Next, put a bag of rice in the freezer to make it cold.
3. Tip the rice into a tray and leave to dry.
4. Once dry, add some ocean toys.
5. Then place on a table with small scoops or cups for your toddler to play with.

4) Rainbow spaghetti! Make some rainbow pasta!

What you’ll need: dry spaghetti, food colouring

What to do:

1. Cook your pasta ‘al dente’
2. Mix 2 tablespoons of water with 20 drops of food colouring in a food bag. Repeat with the other colours.
3. When the pasta is cooked, drained and rinsed, transfer in even portions to the bags of food colouring. Let it sit for a minute.
4. Transfer the bags of pasta to the colander and rinse off any extra food colouring. Then place all your pasta into a bowl and mix together.

5) Wibble wobble, wibble wobble… play with jelly on a plate!

What you’ll need: a pot of jelly

What to do:

Just give your toddler a ready-made pot of jelly to squish!