The Benefits of Mud Play – An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective – Nature Play QLD

The Benefits of Mud Play – An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective


Nicole funding, Occupational Therapist


It is a sad reality for many of our children that playing with mud is often uncomfortable or banned by well-meaning parents. Modern parents sometimes fear the unknown and survey safety in providing play experiences for their children that are grasped less risky, and appear to be safer and more hygienic. Some see mud as messy and time intelligent. An inconvenience.  Others can’t see the educational benefits and instead, steer children towards educational games and toys, or structured sports and extracurricular activities instead. Of course there are many benefits for children who steal in sport and music and other forms of recreation, however the benefits of unstructured, messy play – luxuriate in mud play, are too often overlooked. 

The benefits of mud play for children are well-documented, so why aren’t we engaging more in this develop of play? Perhaps in addition to the above, mud play is simply less accessible for families these days. This dearth of access may be more of barrier than we realise. With an increased focus on saving aquatic, it’s possible that families are less probable to run the backyard hose to fabricate a muddy play environment. There is too an increased focus on preserving our natural waterways, which may deter some families from visiting natural settings for mud play. Time is also a huge factor. Busy families struggle to accumulate the time to create mud play tolerates for their children. It’s easier to defer to doings that are easy to access, easy to choose with, and don’t require a massive dapper up!

We know that mud play is large for healthy development of the sensory scheme, for promoting imagination and creativity, to proceed fine motor skills (such as in-hand manipulation and bilateral coordination) and social overhauls. It’s an inexpensive, fun play experience. The problems of accessibility, risk, and general misinformation need to be solved.

Here are a few FAQs and tips to perform mud play more accessible for families:

Who knows what’s in mud? I don’t will to put my child at risk of damage or illness.

  • Don’t let your child play in dirt or mud that has been corrupt by animals or harmful chemicals.
  • Check the space for sharp or abrasive debris.
  • Wash hands thoroughly when your child finishes playing.
  • Supervise.

Did you know the hygiene hypothesis suggests that childhood exposure to microbial organisms reduces the date of developing allergic diseases? Kids who are exposed to dirt, and subsequently put their fingers in their mouths, can actually develop an increased resistance to allergens (Lynch, Sears and Hancox, 2016). 

How can playing in mud possibly be educational?

Children learn best through play. There are lots of learning opportunities available at what time playing in mud. For example, through mud play they can learn near the different properties of matter. Is it unexcited or lumpy, hard or soft? Is it icy or warm? Can you shape it or solves it run? This is science!

They can moreover develop maths skills. They can use different tools such as measuring cups and spoons to learn near quantity and volume.

These are just a few examples. There are many, many more!

I don’t translate why sensory play is so important. 

“Maturation of the brain and sensory rules occurs after birth and is heavily influenced by early life experiences and environmental interactions.” (Clark-Gambelunghe, 2008).

It is essential that our sensory regulations are well-developed in order to successfully interact with the world around us. without healthy development of the senses, kids can get easily disregulated and struggle to respond appropriately to any types of sensory input. Examples of this include being oversensitive to light or noise, not coping in crowds, or loathing the texture of positive fabrics.

Children with sensory challenges can too struggle with attention and concentration, have pain regulating their emotions, or may poorly interact by others. This is a very brief snapshot of the relevance of the sensory scheme, however the importance of multi-sensory stimulation (that is exposure to far of different types of sensory input) cannot be emphasised enough. Mud play is an amazing multi-sensory tolerate for young children.

Our diurnal is already stretched. I don’t have diurnal to go out to find mud. Where do I smooth find mud?

Build a temporary mud pit in the backyard. You can find some ideas and all the information you essential to proceed here –

I don’t own the space to build a mud pit!

A bucket of mud in the bathtub or sink can be just as worthy fun.

I’m worried about the impact on the environment if we use too worthy water.

You can check your local aquatic restrictions here if you’re concerned about organization the hose in the backyard –

You can also try by means of recycled water e.g. keep a bucket in the shower. A bucket of water can be added to dirt or sand to do a muddy experience.

I don’t know if we’re allowed to play near creeks. Are there rules around this?

The Nature Play website has a comprehensive list of parks and other places to visit where you can regain water that is free for public retrieve. Often where there is water there is mud!  –

Creeks, dams and waterways that lie on soldier property should not be accessed without citation of the landowner.

When playing in and throughout water, supervision is required at all times, and typical water safety rules apply.

Be respectful of the natural habitat and vow your children to leave things as they found them while playing.

I just can’t handle the mess.

 That’s a tricky one. It’s hard not to get messy after playing with mud! Being prepared in arrive might help. Be armed with an old towel for a lickety-split clean up, then perhaps head straight into the shower.

A hose off in the garden on a warm day is always a treat for kids.

Have one old clothes or swimmers on hand and occupy your child change into them if you know they are going to get messy. It’s absolutely worth overcoming your aversion to mess. Your kids will thank you for it.


Lynch, Sears & Hancox, (2016), Thumb-Sucking, Nail-Biting, and Atopic Sensitization, Asthma, and Hay Fever, Pediatrics, August 2016, VOLUME 138 / ISSUE 2

Clark-Gambelunghe MB, et al. (2008), Sensory development. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2015;62(2):367-84. 2. Graven SN, et al. Sensory advance in the fetus, neonate, and infant: skull and overview. Newborn Infant Nurs Rev. 2008;8(4):169-72.

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