• Catkin Toys

Sensory Play For Babies

Issy, known to her young family, and her Instagram followers as Mummy Scrummie is a Hampshire-based mum of two and brand rep for Catkin Toys. Every Sunday, Issy will be writing a guest blog feature, covering the parenting topics and issues that interest you! Have a topic you'd like to hear more about? Get in touch!

Tray Play Fun For Your Under One

Does it feel like social media is showing you page after page of brilliant play ideas for children, and you have no idea where to start with setting up something for your child?

Are you being visually bombarded with beautiful trays and play set-ups but left thinking: “Okay, that’d be great if I had a five year old, but what can I do for my baby?”

If you answered yes to both these questions, then read on, mama; and prepare to feel more inspired than tired, with Mummy Scrummie’s guide to Tray Play Fun for Your Under One!

Why Simple Play is So Important

Experts agree that the years before your small person turns five are some of the most crucial in their development; moreover, it is scientifically proven that the simplest toys, the simplest play experiences are the ones your child learns most from, because it encourages them to use their creative thinking and to forge those neural pathways responsible for imagination and decision-making.

It is these first ventures into the world of play that will shape the person your little one becomes. Which is crazy, when you put it like that, isn’t it? But don’t let the idea of this being a landmark moment in your child’s learning put you off jumping straight in and giving some tray play a go.

My first piece of advice is to remember that, to a child under one, everything and anything can be amazing. This has always been the case, but is perhaps truer than ever for a generation that have, by default, been a wee bit sheltered by being born in the middle of a global pandemic.

What might seem to you something totally uninteresting, may be absolutely fascinating to your little one: remember, it may be the first time they’ve ever seen anything like it, or they might suddenly have a much clearer understanding of what it is, or how it works, compared to what they understood of it the last time they saw it.

My Littlest adores a little wooden spinning top we have. The first time he saw it, he was fascinated, watching it twirling around and around; the next time, he clearly had some understanding of how I’d set it spinning, and was trying to twist it in his hands. Babies are amazing, and always watching and learning!

Keeping Baby Safe

As with every aspect of baby-care, your first priority when it comes to playing with your little one is going to be safety: you need to make sure that whatever your small person is playing with is age appropriate and safe for them; for those under 12 months, that means they need to be able to put it in their mouth, chew it, bash it about, drop it and hold it in their hands without hurting themselves.

Your bubba is not going to enjoy themselves (and you certainly won’t!) if you’re jumping up and down like a pea on a drum every two minutes, trying to prise from your pint-sized person’s kung-fu grip something you don’t want them playing with. So, I find that the easiest, and most stress-free way to keep your baby safe whilst they’re playing is to follow these two super simple rules:

1. Anything smaller than Baby’s fist: save for another time.

2. Look for the UKCA (previously CE) mark on the label to ensure that whatever you’re buying/using meets UK toy safety guidelines for babies.

And that’s it. It’s that simple! Stick to those guidelines and the job’s a good’un; now you and Baby can explore, experiment and have fun together with a whole world of fab play ideas.