Your toddler's sensory system is a work in progress, which is why crying might occur over sticky hands or walking in dry sand. New stimulus and textures can be upsetting to your toddler. Tactile activities can help reduce this sensitivity by allowing her to feel more comfortable in different environments, reports the Pediatric Development Center, which provides occupational therapy services for young children.
Toddlers love to draw, paint and create. Spread salt or whipped cream on a baking tray and let him draw pictures with his fingers. Add a few drops of food coloring to a few tablespoon of honey and let him finger paint in complete stickiness. Show him how to form shapes and sculptures with play clay or to pat a chunk of play dough flat and use his finger to imprint designs. The chance to draw or create something can make handling sticky, or otherwise unfamiliar substances, less intimidating.
Submerging her hands in a variety of different textures can help build up her tolerance to different materials and environments, reports the Pediatric Development Center. Fill a large plastic bin with dried beans, rice, flour or sugar and hide a few small toys in the bottom. Then ask your toddler to help you find the hidden treasures inside. Fill a casserole dish with water or sand and set it on the floor for her to experiment and play with. Provide a few toys such as a small doll or toy car that your tot can practice moving through the different mediums.
Your toddler experiences sensations with his hands and his feet, so encourage him to have new sensory experiences barefoot by walking through a baby pool of dry macaroni or a goopy mixture of flour and water. Encourage him to try and grab some of the contents between his toes as he's walking. Cut large squares of distinctly different fabric, such as velvet, nylon, wool and fleece and have him hop between the different "touch pads" in bare feet.
Letting your toddler explore a variety of textures, from sandpaper and corduroy, to shag carpeting and velvet can help acclimate her the different sensations. Create a book with each page made of a different material. Cut out shapes made from contrasting textures or fabrics and let her arrange or play with them on a small table or tray. Have her touch a particular material or fabric with her eyes closed and try to guess which one she was touching.
- Pediatric Development Center: Tactile Fun in the Sun
- Activities for Fine Motor Skills Development; Jodene Smith
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