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Seaside Play for Babies and Toddlers

19 July 2012 172 Comments

Are you heading to the beach this summer? A trip to the seaside offers so many play and sensory experiences for babies and toddlers. Here are some fun ideas from Cathy at NurtureStore that you can use to enjoy all the sea has to offer – at the beach and back at home.

Beach babies

My favourite tip for babies at the beach is to bring a paddling pool to use as a sand-free baby play space. A fold-up pool is fairly easy to pack and take along and can make such a difference to your baby’s experience of the beach. Set up your paddling pool – with no water in, of course – and your baby can sit inside, clean and comfortable, but still able to enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells of the sea.

It’s a good idea to try out some sand play at home before you hit the beach, introducing the feel of the sand to your child. Try one of the ideas below for some super fun sensory tubs.

And if you find your baby really doesn’t like to touch the sand at all, you can still have them join in the fun with a seaside themed sensory bottle – filled with sand and shells.

Classic beach play ideas

With a bucket and spade you’re all set for some fun beach play: dig, build and discover. Building sand castles is the classic beach time activity and you can have the best dressed fort on the beach if you bring along some home-made flags. Use your children’s paintings or drawings with some cocktail sticks to create a set of art flags to bring with you. You could also take along some food colouring to make coloured sand castles.

A trip to the beach is a great place for young children to be introduced to new language. Fill your bucket with some shells and seaweed and talk together about all the different animals, objects and sounds your encounter. You can extend this back at home by reading lots of seaside themed story books together.

Try some shrimp netting and see what creatures you can find.

Use sticks, hands and feet to draw pictures, write words or make prints

And if your toddlers are pirate fans you can bring some treasures from home to bury and set up a beach scavenger hunt.

Bring the beach back home

Bring the beach home with you and enjoy some sensory play. A sensory tub is a great way to create an interesting play scene for babies and toddlers to explore, with lots of different colours and textures. Depending on how young your child is – and how likely they are to place things in their mouth – you could set up an ocean play scene using:

Some sand play dough and the shells you’ve collected, to make prints and patterns

Rainy day Mum’s idea with jelly and porridge oats for the sea and sand

Pebbles, gravel and sand like Mama Pea Pod

Cool jelly and warm water in a bath or food colouring and spaghetti seaweed like Growing a Jeweled Rose

Bath fizzers like Famiglia and Seoul

Or add in some favourite little people for some imaginary beach play

Are you heading to the beach this summer?

What’s your best tip to make the day-out lots of fun for your baby and toddler?