By engaging their senses and offering them with an opportunity to explore, babies learn to make sense of their world.
The importance of sensory play in early childhood acts as a springboard to nurture a baby’s development in a multitude of ways.
Besides offering store-bought toys, how about creating your baby’s first sensory bin with common household items?
What is a sensory bin?
A sensory bin consists of a container with a mix of fillers that offers tactile experience. There’s no right or wrong way to present a sensory bin. As with children, remember safety should always come first – parents should pick items that are safe and suitable for their child.
For young babies, it is essential to select items that are not choking hazards, and are generally child-friendly. If your child loves putting things in her mouth, be sure to keep sharp objects or tiny items out of the sensory bin.
Sensory bins are versatile and can accommodate ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ play. Add water into the bin and get ready for some splashing fun! There’s always an opportunity to explore the sensory bin during bath times, or in the bathroom for that added water fun.
Benefits of a sensory bin
“envisioned a child’s knowledge as composed of schemas, basic units of knowledge used to organize past experiences and serve as a basis for understanding new ones.
— Jean Piaget, French Psychologist
This sensory play method allows parents to switch around with different fillers every single time! Best of all, the items are not expensive, complicated and do not require batteries. In fact, it’s about upcycling what you already have without buying more.
Learning with simple items that are readily available at home makes it a spontaneous opportunity for your child to observe how these things are also used on a regular day too!
Through this hands-on exploration, here’s what a sensory bin offers young children:
Engage their senses: Multi-sensorial points are simultaneously triggered. Feeling the textured sides of a sponge, looking and listening to the sound when shaking a bottle of water, touching pasta and throwing them into a container, are just some ways your little learner is picking up notes!
Develop practical life skills: Oh that mess! Don’t worry, your child is learning about cause-and-effect. Baby learns to pick up each pasta after the container was overturned, sharpening his fine motor skills as he discovers about pinching clothes pegs, attempts to scoop toilet roll and pasta with the ladle. It’s all about daring to try, baby, and that’s how we hope to nurture our children to be adapt to situations and keep going.
Build cognitive development: Problem-solving skills, reasoning and logic are just some of those areas that your child is working on as he explores the myriad of items in his new sensory bin! Encourage him, if he decides to put all the clothes peg into the resealable bag, or puts pasta into the empty supplement container to turn it into a shaker.
Enhance language and communication skills: As parents involve themselves while children are exploring, this leads to asking questions, exposure to new vocabulary, conversations and more! If baby decides to do a taste test with the sponge, you could even ask him if it was yummy – and go on to explain that sponges are not for eating. Thought process in the works!
Nurture emotional development: Independent play allows child to focus on a task, contributing to self-discovery. Playing with other children offers them with an opportunity to pick up social skills, by learning to cooperate and play together (or fight over!) with items from the sensory bin.
Strengthen social skills and bonds: Through parent-child interaction, or exploring the sensory bin with another child, this presents a new environment to learn about sharing and taking turns. There might be some tears, but it’s entirely expected!
Putting together baby’s first sensory bin
We put together a list of 10 common household items that are affordable, and yet promise to pique baby’s curiosity!
You will need a container to hold these items. Do ensure it is cleaned before offering baby.
Resealable bag or small plastic bag
Empty supplement container
Shredded paper and envelopes
Ladle and spoons
A little warning though – be prepared for flying pasta, ladles, clothes pegs, toilet rolls… just about anything within baby’s sight! Well, that is pretty expected and all in a day of sensorial fun to observe mummy and daddy’s reactions too!
How can parents be involved during the sensory bin exploration?
Parents can choose to be facilitators or play together with your child at various stages of play. Babies are naturally curious, and exploration allows them to discover new things through experience. You would be surprised how they make sense of these newly discovered items that their little fingers are getting hold of!
Sensory bins offer a variety of adventures within the indoors, and are great for rainy days, or when the child needs to stay home. But that’s no reason why they should be denied of excitement in an unconventional way, as we work towards raising world-ready children who are ready to take on new experiences! Are you and your baby ready for the invitation to play?
Does your child enjoy playing with sensory bins too? Tell us what’s your child’s favourite household item that he enjoys playing with!
This simple activity offers parent-child interaction to create a fun mask together.
Let your child’s creativity flow as he doodles and designs the mask with a wide option of mediums. Parents can ask questions/narrate about their choice of colours, mediums or the textures their little fingers are exploring, which helps grow communication and literacy skills.
Your child focuses on each task, enjoys sensorial exploration and learns about cause-and-effect, while creating his masterpiece!
Get your child to help apply glue and paste this activity sheet on a cereal box.
Let your child’s creativity flow and design with colour pencils, markers, felt, cotton, glitter, coloured paper & more!
Cut out the mask along the outline.
Gently use a pen to make 2 holes at the indicated spots. Fasten with rubber band, and VOILA!
Don’t forget to share with us your child’s masterpiece with us on our Facebook page!
Parenting takes two to clap, and plenty of teamwork to boot!
From playing cheerleaders at the delivery suite, to helping with night feeds, fathers play a supporting role in their own ways.
According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA), “Involved fathers are more likely to see their interactions with their children positively be more attentive to their children’s development, better understand, and be more accepting of their children, and enjoy closer, richer father-child relationships.”
Mums often play the role of gatekeepers in the family, and that sometimes influences how much fathers are involved in parenting (or, want to be involved!), and that would unknowingly affect the dynamism of a father-and-child relationship too. Fathers are also pillar of strength and support for mums during the challenging journey, from being the protective father who nurses a wounded knee to instilling child discipline and imparting values.
While both parents are antagonistic when it comes to raise healthy, world-ready children, the importance of an engaged father during a child’s growing up years is certainly instrumental, and deserves more than just a pat on the back.
Celebrating fatherhood with words of love from mummies
We spoke to four mummies in Singapore who share their heartfelt gratitude for having their spouse’s support in parenting. Fathers, these mums want you to know that they appreciate what you do for the children and family! Mums may not say it often, but every action from papas speaks a thousand words to your ladies. Raising your children together is like nurturing your flowers and watch them blossom with your love!
To Daddy Ken, father of two:
I would like to thank my husband for always lending me immense support during these initial years of parenting. One great help he has rendered up till this day is his willingness to do night duty. From the time our boy could take to bottle-feeding, he has been waking up in the middle of the night to feed him or get him back to sleep. He knows I need my rest so that I can function properly the next day. Also, he often encourages me to get some ‘ME’ time because he knows I need to be recharged. So, while I get my time off, he would look after the kids. Really thankful to him, my awesome partner.
To Papa Aw, father of two:
To my dear partner aka Papa Aw,
Sometimes, you do make me mad;
Sometimes, you do make me laugh.
I believe that’s what love is about?
I appreciate the little things you have done for me & our family. Spending your time with us (though you could have choosen to work OTs for extra income)
Waking up in the middle of the nights for the kids (eg: to prepare their milk), which allows me to have more rest.
Just listening to my naggings when I’m down.
You are my partner, lover and my best friend.
Thanks for always being there for me. You’re the best!
To hubby Terence, father of one & expecting their second child:
Thank you, dear hubby, for 13 awesome years of being together and for going through the ups and downs of parenting. It warms my heart to see how you dote on our little girl and shower her with love and attention. Although there are times when there is a need to step in to discipline her by making unpopular decisions, you never fail to make it a point to remind her that she is very much loved by her mum and dad. As we look forward to the arrival of our second bundle of joy next month, I know that the best is yet to come and I know that we can count on you to create more happy memories together!
To Daddy Changhan, father of two:
I really want to thank God for a wonderful partner, friend, husband and father in my life. He has been a great source of support when we had our first child, and to our second child. I remembered there were many times when I need help with the house and baby, he will always be there with me. Often, he would offer to spend time with our children and be willing to listen to me on my preferred type of parenting. He supports me in all my decisions and walks with me to try to make them successful. Thank you, darling!
Fathers, you’re more important than you think when it comes to parenthood. Together, you can build a wholesome family environment for your children to thrive and blossom into strong, independent people who value the importance of relationships and marriages.
Mums, do you have a special message to your husbands? Remember to share your heartfelt words of appreciation to let them know they are awesome!
Eating well offers children with the daily essential nutrients to take on the activities in a day.
As busy parents, we understand that meal preparation should not take up too much time, while the quality of food offered to our children should not be compromised.
Avocadoes are some of the best first foods parents offer their babies who are ready to start on their solids journey. Young children and adults can enjoy avocados for its delicious goodness too!
Hailed as a superfood for its wholesome nutritional benefits, its creamy texture is mild tasting and perfect on its own, or paired with other ingredients.
So,… what’s so great about avocados?
Nutritional benefits of avocado for babies and growing children
Avocados pack a punch, beneath its tough exterior. These stony fruits boost a wealth of essential nutrients to support children’s development.
Calories: Active growing children require calories for their daily energy needs.
Omega-3, Monosaturated fatty acids: 60% of our brains are made up of fats, so healthy fats such as Omega-3 help support healthy brain development in children.
Vitamins C, E, K, B6: Antioxidants promote healthy cell growth, and support bone health by increasing calcium absorption.
Folate: Essential for red blood cell formation and promotes healthy cell growth.
Riboflavin (also known as Vitamin B2): Helps body absorb iron and zinc, supports healthy nerve and brain functions.
Lutein: Primarily found in green vegetables, and absorbed best when taken with a high-fat meal, supports eye health
Fibre: Avocados are high in fibre, and promotes a healthy digestive system by preventing constipation.
Serving Avocado to Children
At six month old, parents may consider serving avocados to their babies. They can be served mash as puree and fed with a spoon (also termed as Traditional Weaning), or sliced up into wedges for children to self-feed (also termed as Baby Led Weaning).
Eggs are another wholesome food that is packed with proteins for growing children, and complement avocados to offer a new adventure of those young palates. How about enjoying both eggs and avocadoes in the same dish with this easy recipe?
Why are Eggs Good for Children?
Research suggests that eggs are a rich source of proteins and iron. This easy way of providing iron-rich foods might be an answer to help prevent iron-deficiency through food sources.
More than just the building blocks of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood, proteins are macronutrients that are required in relatively large quantities in children to fuel healthy growth.
Just like avocados, eggs are also brain food with doses of cholesterol, DHA and choline, which are vital for developing the various components of a child’s brain, including memory stem cells.
As with new foods, do monitor your child for allergy reactions. While avocados typically belong in the low allergenic foods category, eggs on the other hand, belong to high allergenic foods. Go for whole eggs if your child does not have any allergy reaction to them.
Let your child enjoy avocados with eggs, with this simple recipe!
Baked Avocados with Fresh Eggs Recipe
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 fresh eggs
A sprinkle of Italian Herbs, or any other herbs that you prefer
A sprinkle of salt or coarse sea salt (optional)
A dash of black pepper (optional)
Preheat oven at 180deg. Pit avocado and slice into half. Using a teaspoon to remove some avocado around the pit area to make space for egg.
Crack egg one at a time, either into a separate bowl or directly into avocado. Ensure yolks fit into avocado. The egg may overflow if the space is not deep enough. Add Italian Herbs.
Bake for 15-20 min or until desired state of egg yolk*. *Tip: For young children or pregnant women, ensure egg is fully cooked.
When ready to serve, sprinkle some salt and pepper as desired.
This quick and easy baked avocado with eggs recipe is great for families who wish to enjoy a healthy and hearty breakfast to start their day. Nothing beats quality ingredients which support families in raising world-ready children as they prepare to take on new adventures!
Does your family love eating avocados too? Tell us what’s your family’s favourite way of enjoying avocados!