There are so many reasons why you need to buy a tuff tray for your kids. It’s such a great resource to have!
Even babies can use one. It gives them a safe space to explore and is perfect for sensory and messy play.
Using an adjustable stand also makes it easy and safe for older babies to pull themselves to standing. It also helps them to stand with support.
There are endless ways to use a tuff tray with babies.
In this blog post, I will show you 20 simple ways I used our tuff tray with my baby. Hopefully, the ideas will help you to set up fun learning activities for your little one, whilst containing the mess.
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1. Shiny Tuff Tray
Adding reflective everyday objects for your baby to explore is a great way to use a tuff tray.
I created this tray by covering it in tin foil first. Then I added reflective objects such as spoons, a colander and a gift box.
Although babies are too little to learn the names of colours, they will enjoy playing with different coloured items.
This tuff tray works well with older siblings too, as it’s a great way to get them to sort the objects.
Using play balls in a tuff tray is much better than using a ball pit in my opinion. It makes it easier for babies to grab and hold on to the balls and allows them to move about freely.
Giving your baby tummy time in the playball tuff tray ensures the balls are at eye level. It also prevents them from rolling away too far, which makes it more achievable for non-crawling babies to grab them.
Jelly is such a great texture for babies to feel and taste. However, letting them play with it can get messy.
This is where the tuff tray comes in handy. I first tried this with my little one when he was 7 months old and he loved it!
It was a great tummy time activity that kept him occupied for quite some time.
5. Rice Tuff Tray For Babies
Rice is a simple sensory activity to set up. You can easily make more appealing by dyeing it different colours using food colouring.
Using rice in our tray helped my baby to develop his fine motor skills. He used the pincer movement to try and pick up the individual grains of rice and he enjoyed emptying the stacking cups.
6. Water beads
Water beads are inexpensive and so much fun. They’re non-toxic and a small container lasts for ages.
All you need to do is submerge the tiny balls in water and wait a few hours for them to get bigger.
They’re slippery so it’s an added challenge for a baby’s fine motor skills.
This is another tuff tray that’s good for older siblings to get involved in too.
There are a few different ways you can use bubbles in a tuff tray.
One way is to make a bubble blower and then add the bubbles to the tray.
Babies will have fun splashing about in them and trying to pick them up.
Using washing up liquid in a bubble mixture can cause irritation so it’s important to use a baby-safe bubble mixture with little ones.
Sand is another interesting texture for your baby to explore.
They may be a bit unsure at first so putting it in a tuff tray is a great way to introduce them to it.
You can hover them over the tray so they can feel it just on their feet. Or you can put the tray on the stand so they can put their hands in it.
I use our tuff tray as an alternative to a sandpit.
I prefer this because it means I don’t use as much sand. I can move it about and I can change it regularly. I can also easily cover it by tucking a plastic table cloth under the tray, which prevents animals from getting in.
If you’re worried about your baby eating the sand, you can make edible sand using crackers instead.
9. Sticky Tuff Tray For Babies
To create a sticky tray for your little one, use contact paper sticky side up and stick different objects to it.
This is an easy fine motor skill activity.
I didn’t have any contact paper so I used sellotape instead. I stuck it sticky side up and created a spider web. Sticking foam letters and numbers to the tape worked best because they were easier for my little one to take off.
I put our tuff tray onto a stand so my baby could pull himself up. I also made sure I put lots of objects close to the edge for him to reach.
10. Baby Paint
Using baby paint in a tuff tray will minimise the amount of clearing up you have to do afterwards.
To create baby safe paint, all you need to do is mix yoghurt and food colouring together. Then put it on paper plates in the tuff tray.
You could also mix shaving foam and food colouring but I wouldn’t recommend this if your baby likes to put everything in their mouth.
If you’re using the tray without the stand, covering the tray in white paper will make it less slippery.
11. Shaving Foam
Letting your baby play with shaving foam can become messy. But using it in a tuff tray will help to contain the mess.
I’ve found that putting the tray on a stand for my baby to explore, prevents him from slipping.
My little one was unsure at first so adding in wooden blocks encouraged him to give it a go.
Using ice in a tuff tray is a perfect summer’s day activity that will help to keep your little one cool.
For older babies, hiding things in the ice cubes adds an element of surprise.
13. Lift the Flaps Tuff Tray For Babies
My baby loves exploring labels and lifting the flap in books even now at 1 year old. However, I found at first he pulled the flaps in the books too hard.
So I added different coloured pieces of paper as tabs for him to explore in the tuff tray.
You could also create little surprises for your baby by adding pictures underneath.
14. Wooden Blocks and Balls
I added wooden blocks and balls to our tuff tray when my baby was around 9 months old.
He was going through a stage of banging anything and everything. So putting the wooden toys into the tray allowed him to do this.
15. Make a Den
Making a den is an ideal rainy day activity for babies.
All you need to do is wrap a blanket around the stand and then put the tuff tray on top to keep it in place. Y
ou can then use it to play peek-a-boo or create an engaging sensory experience by adding lights, music and sensory toys.
16. Nature Tuff Tray For Babies
Adding a few bits and pieces from nature to a tuff tray will provide your baby with new experiences.
It also means you can carefully select what they’re touching when out in the garden.
You don’t need to add lots of things into the tray because this may overwhelm them.
Creating activities like this in our tuff tray, is one of the ways I helped my baby to enjoy the garden.
He hated the grass because it caused sensory overload but using the tuff tray and stand to pull himself up and exploring the objects kept him focused.
17. Water Play
A tuff tray is great to use for water play. It’s easy to fill up and empty and the water is shallow which makes it a bit safer to use with babies.
Adding in bath toys will also make it fun and appealing for your baby too.
Squigz are small silicone suckers that stick to almost anything, including a tuff tray.
This is a great activity to develop fine motor skills and strength.
I have used these with my little one since he was 9 months old. (I didn’t realise until after that the age recommendation is 3 years and over. I have since taken out the smallest sucker.)
If you’re concerned about this, Pipsquigz are a great alternative. They’re bigger than traditional Squigz and are suitable from 6 months old.
Babies are fascinated by faces and their own reflections. So adding mirrors to a tuff tray will hold their interest.
Adding mirrors and balls was another way I used our tuff tray in the garden. As well as looking at his own reflection, my baby also loved looking at the trees in them too.
20. Sensory Tuff Tray For Babies
Adding different sensory toys and items to a tuff tray will keep your little one occupied. I used a foil blanket for the bottom of our tray. Then I added:
There are so many ways to use tuff trays with babies. They’re such a great resource to use in all sorts of activities and messy play.
A tuff tray is something you will get good use out of. Kids can use it when they’re older for more elaborate activities.
Do you already use a tuff tray for your baby? If so, what sort of things do you use it for? Let me know in the comments below.