Mud, glorious mud! Kids LOVE it! They have been playing in mud since the dawn of time. Think about it, is there any other stage of life when it’s socially appropriate to slather yourself with mud and make mud pies (unless you are doing a mud run)? Children and mud are the perfect combination of messy, delightful fun. Did you know that mud play has tons of benefits for your child as well? It's actually really good for their development. Here’s why!
Sensory experiences are beneficial to children of all ages. Learning about the world around them through the senses is part of what makes childhood so magical. And so it’s important! Healthline.com reports that, “By purposefully engaging your child’s senses throughout the day, you can expand their brain connections, encourage a deeper understanding of concepts, advance their motor skills, and with any luck bring joyful memories into their lives”. What more could you want from their play? And MUD, my friends, is the perfect sensory material.
Mud boosts the Immune System
According to Michelle Rupiper, Associate Professor of Practice and Assistant Department Chair for Child, Youth & Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “exposure to dirt and germs works to prime a child’s immune system to prevent allergies”. The microbiomes really do get into our system and help our immune warriors to fight off germs and disease.
The materials in mud are known to increase serotonin levels in our bodies. Yep. Mud can act as a healer for your mental health too. The material Mycobacterium vaccae in mud has the same effect on neurons as antidepressant medication. Have you ever noticed how people who are gardening seem super relaxed? It’s the dirt!
When children play in the mud, they are using their imagination, being creative, exercising their motor skills, and learning social skills (if other children are present). Making mud pies, sculpting and using mud to paint a tree--these are all creative processes that are important to a child’s cognitive development. Jumping up and down in mud puddles allows them to work those legs muscles and practice coordination. Pretending to be in the hot lava is an important component of pretend play. Mud play supports the whole child.
Time in Nature
Have you ever noticed how getting outside can change the whole vibe of your family? There is scientific research about the benefits of time spent in nature. In addition to feeling happier, nature exposes us to vitamin D, boosts our immune systems, improves memory, decreases stress, and helps with concentration. You will be shocked at how long mud play will hold your child’s attention.
Mud play does not cost any money! You can simply turn on the hose in your backyard, hit the beach, river or park, and you have an instant activity for your child that will boost their development in so many ways. You can save your money to treat yourself to a latte!
Don’t be afraid to let your child get dirty and experience the benefits of mud play. With winter approaching here in the US, there are going to be lots of muddy puddles calling our names, and I encourage you to accept their invitation!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Amanda
Amanda Dixon is a mother of three young children and has her master’s degree in early childhood education. She spends her days homeschooling her kiddos, freelance writing and teaching college. Her favorite things are a good cuppa tea, chocolate chip cookies, books, and her 3 dachshunds.