Developmentally, toddlers are wired to touch, feel and grab their surroundings to learn about their world. Ever had a toddler spend 10 minutes washing hands at the sink? Or refuse to get dressed? These are examples of a toddler’s sensitivity to different textures and are great learning opportunities. These experiences help make connections in the brain and promote learning. Giving toddlers opportunities to explore the world this way helps them grow.

When parents understand development and help create opportunities to meet this need, this will help your toddler progress through this stage. From messy to simple, try a few of these activities with your touchy toddler:

Use an old hat or can and take turns dropping blocks into it. You can name their colors or count them as you play.

Turn a large box on its side. Fill it with lots of stuffed animals and encourage your toddler to crawl in and explore. Next time, fill it with other treasures, like balls or warm sheets just out of the dryer.

Create a small book of smells. Staple together a few sheets of paper and use different extracts or perfumes including vanilla, strawberry, banana, koolaid, etc. Let your toddler enjoy the little smells book.

Cook some sticky rice and roll rice balls. Serve them for dinner.

Place sponges in a bucket of water and show how sponges soak up the water. Squeeze the water out and start over again.

Make a batch of bread dough (or buy it ready-made) and use alphabet cookie cutters to spell out your child’s name (be sure to let them help in this process). Bake it and enjoy.

The most important piece is to enjoy this time with your toddler and don’t be afraid to dig in. Toddlers love to be a part of the whole process, so when they say, “me do it!” say ok.

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