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Learning by playing: birth to 18 months

Who knew that boosting brain power and refining motor skills could be so much fun?
From birth to 18 months your child is getting more aware and active by the day, so keep them learning important mental and physical skills with these hands-on activities – it’s just child’s play.
DIY finger paint
What’s not to love about edible finger paint? Your toddler can get creative and messy and, because it’s safe and non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about them tasting it.
Mix two tablespoons of sugar with a 1/3 cup of cornflour, add two cups of water and whisk until smooth. Heat in a saucepan until the mix thickens. Divide the mix between plastic cups, add food colouring to each one, and stir. Leave to cool before letting your toddler dip in, and smear, squish and swirl over paper.
Head to toe
Encourage your little one to learn about parts of the body through singing and actions with this simple song:
This is the way we touch our nose, touch our nose, touch our nose, this is the way we touch our nose, so early in the morning.
Replace the word ‘nose’ with toe, ear, knee etc and add in new actions such as tickle and shake.
Going on a bear hunt?
Make reading aloud more fun by bringing Michbhl Rosen’s We’re Going On A Bear Hunt to life.
Make the sound effects of the swishy grass, splashy river and howling snowstorm: run a broom along the floor, splash your hands in a bowl of water, and blow into the top of an empty bottle.
Act out the story, focusing on words in the book such as ‘over’, ‘under’, and ‘through’. Make rivers out of blue bed sheets, collect twigs and leaves from the garden for the forest, wear scarves for the snowstorm, create a cave under a table, and use a play tunnel for exploring. 
Rapido play dough 
It’s never too early to get crafty with your child, and this no-cook play dough recipe is ready to mould, squeeze and cut in just five minutes.
Mix one cup of plain flour, 1/2 cup of salt, two tablespoons of cream of tartar, one tablespoon of cooking oil, one cup of boiling water, and a few drops of food colouring (gel gives a brighter colour). Add glitter for some sparkle, or peppermint oil to make it smell great. 
Easy peasy lava lamp
Your toddler will be mesmerised by the weird bubbles of colour and swirly shapes in this funky homemade lava lamp.
Fill a quarter of a large, clear plastic bottle with water and then fill to the top with vegetable oil. Once the oil and water separates, add 10 drops of food colouring and half a fizzing tablet (such as Alka-Seltzer) – then let the blobby spectacle commence. For a true lava effect, shine a torch through the bottom of the bottle.