Originally published on Jan. 21, 2018.


Today's post is about how to support children to transition from dry messy play to wet messy play.

Some children will be able to move straight to wet sensory and food items to play with, but for a lot of children, that transition is a difficult one. I have recently been exploring items to help children transition into this stage:

1- Water Play

For a lot of children who find things that stick to their hands difficult, I find that their tolerance of water play is often much easier. You can add different things to the water to extend this play scenario, like small pretend play items. You will find lots of ideas online too for using ice as a messy play activity, but be aware that some children can experience extremes of temparature as painful.

2- Water Beads

These are my new favourite thing! I like these because the child is putting their hands into something, as they will be with the messier play that comes next. But water beads only really leave a little slick of water on your skin, nothing sticky. Water beads start very small and absorb water. Depending on the age and stage of your child, they might find the process of seeing what the beads look like before and after exciting too!

There are loads of ideas online to extend this activity.

3- Use Ziplock bags

If your child is ready to explore wetter items but not ready to touch them yet, then try putting them in ziplock bags, so they can use their hands to explore, but don't get the stickiness factor.

You can put water beads in them, or you can fill them with cheap hair gel and put items in the gel. There are lots of good ideas online for this activity, try Google images, Youtube and Pinterest.

4- Kinetic Sand

You can buy or make this (again, loads of examples and videos online). What's great about this is that it is an interesting sensory experience, but doesn't stick to your hands in the quite the same way as normal sand.

5- Slime

There are lots of recipes for non-sticky slime online, this could be another good way to introduce the sensation of wetter items, without the stickiness factor.

6- Tools to interact with the wetter items

In a previous post on the desensitisation hierarchy, we talked about 'interact' being a stage of the desensitisation process. Having a way to explore items that does not involve the hands builds confidence towards using our hands (and ultimately our mouth) to explroe food. Make sure you have lots of 'safe' ways to explore the items available, like cutlery, play items, or foods that are already accepted.

Posts from 'Find the Key Speech Therapy' are intended for information. They should not and cannot replace advice from a qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows your child. 'Find the Key Speech and Language Therapy' always advises you to seek appropriate professional support.