What is Messy Play and why is it so important?

Common questions asked by new parents are; Is messy play beneficial for babies and are they allowed to touch messy resources?

‘The answer is simple; it’s great to expose your babies to as many experiences as possible at a young age in order to stimulate their senses. Remember, we all learn in different ways so it’s important to understand this when allowing your little ones play experiences.

Babies imaginations are stimulated when they have the opportunity to play with tactile materials like pasta, rice, sand, water, chalk, paint, play dough or paste. Concentration levels are high while engaging in messy play.


Let’s ignite babies imagination, spark curiosity in the early stage of their development.

Introducing sensory play early helps develop the brains nerve connections, which assists in learning differences and similarities. The use of tactile materials creates hands-on, self-directed and self-centred play, and it encourages discovery and development.

More Benefits of Messy Play for children, babies and everyone

Fosters Curiosity, Imagination and Exploration

Curiosity helps children become more observant.  It enables them to think and figure out processes independently.

Promotes Physical Development

The hands-on play offers many physical benefits, allowing babies and children to develop an awareness of their bodies and personal space. All the while, they are strengthening their muscle control and inciting muscle memory.

Encourages Communication and Language Development

Babies, even children, can’t always explain the situation verbally so getting their hands messy allows them to create experiences and share their discoveries in different ways. Messy play naturally enriches social relationships.

Practices Good Concentration and Nurtures Future Skills

Exploring objects, engaging all of the senses to think through their discoveries. Whilst trying to communicate children happily learn to concentrate as well as concentrate as they learn.


3 ideas for messy play activities
Coloured Pasta

To allow babies to explore the pasta with their hands.

Different sizes and styles of pasta, water, oil


  • Cook the spaghetti (or different types of pasta) then drain
  • Once drained and cooled, add a small amount of oil and toss.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring and mix well.
  • Place spaghetti out on baking paper to dry for about 1 hour

Place it on a mat with containers. They will love to touch, squish, pick up, pack and puddle the materials. Watch their expressions with trial, error, delight and frustration.

Cloud Dough

Babies will have a tactile experience to stimulate their senses they can touch and feel the cloud dough

2 Cups Corn starch, 1 Cup Scented Conditioner


  • Measure and add your corn starch to a large mixing bowl
  • Measure your conditioner and pour it into your bowl of corn starch
  • Use a long spatula to mix your two ingredients until it gets hard to mix
  • Use your hands to finish kneading the dough together continue kneading it
  • Then ready for playing

Activities such as pouring, shovelling, kneading supports the Ability to Play Independently


Homemade Edible paint

Babies can finger paint on paper, have a tactile experience

1/2 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt, food colouring, watercolours


  • Combine flour, salt, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan
  • Heat flour/water while whisking.
  • The mixture is clumpy, then smooth, thicken to a paste
  • Once it is thick and pasty, remove it from heat
  • Whisk in cold water a few tablespoons until desired consistency
  • Add a few drops of food colouring
  • Allow to cool completely before using

Painting can help build strength in the large muscle groups at the top of the arms. It is these muscles that then enable the smaller muscles in the hands and fingers to make precise and controlled movements.


Edx Education has been creating educational toys for schools in 90 countries for over 25 years. The extensive product range has been designed and developed with educational experts and focuses on the philosophy of ‘learning through play’, which has been proven to be a highly effective method of teaching in the early years.

We provide expert advice on their play blog, podcast with advice from educational experts and downloadable resources for the extension of their educational toys and activities for parents, caregivers and teachers. Head over to https://edxeducation.com/ and sign up for the monthly newsletter for all the latest news, advice and educational toys.


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