We’ve all been there. A toddler visits the beach for the first time, and they are enthralled. The waves, the sunshine, the sand, and all that fun; sensory overload! The toddler loves the sand so much, she has to taste it — a lot of it. Eating sand is almost a right of passage at this point for any child who comes to the beach. But that doesn’t make ingesting sand and possible contaminants any healthier or safer. Fortunately, there is a better way to give a toddler a taste of the beach: edible sand.
“Normally, the ingestion of sand can be harmless,” Dr. Randi Nelson, a pediatrician in New York. “However, sand in a sandbox or even at the beach can contain fecal material and become a harbor for bacteria, especially if the sand is wet.” 
So Moms of TikTok started a trend of making edible sand out of blended Cheerios. Yes, it’s that easy and it’s completely genius.
Playing With Edible Sand
Sensory play is important for toddlers, but many don’t understand why it’s not good to eat sand. With crushed-up Cheerios in their sandbox or baby pool, they get the best of both worlds. You don’t need a massive sandbox for the child to play with; a dish or container will work as long as the toddler could easily interact with the edible sand. Add some sand toys, spoons, and cups for more sensory fun.
Like the real beach, edible sand play is better optimized as an outdoor activity, especially if your toddler is well-versed in the art of throwing food out of their high chairs. Like real sand, the edible kind could make a big mess. Once the child is finished with their sandbox, toss the leftover “sand” and clean the toys to avoid attracting ants. If you don’t have Cheerios, or your child is allergic to its ingredients, you could make sand with almost any other kind of cereal or even graham crackers.
Elle Anna Christine started this trend on TikTok with her now-viral video. The 23-year-old mom explained that she liked the idea because “there aren’t many beaches around us, so I wanted to make my daughter one that was safe to play in.”
Funnily enough, her 7-month old Amara didn’t eat much of the edible sand, although she loved playing with it. However, the mom suspects that this is because “she doesn’t have the coordination yet, so she could barely pick up any of it.” But Amara, like most kids her age, are going through the phase of “touching everything and putting everything in her mouth right now.”
The Importance of Sensory Play for Toddlers
Angela Thayer, educational writer and sensory play creator at “Teaching Mama,” told Bored Panda that she loves the idea of edible sand because “parents don’t have to worry about what their child will put in their mouth.” Plus, “it’s taste-safe and a great texture for kids to explore.” 
Sensory play integrates the five senses into a child’s playtime. This is very important for the development of all children. They know instinctively that they are supposed to learn about the world through their senses. That is why babies and toddlers tend to put everything, including sand, into their mouths. They are learning about their environment. This kind of play also helps the development of language, observational skills, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive growth, and could even help a child feel calm.
Examples of Sensory Play
Playing with sand, water, and play dough are great examples for kids to learn about touch and textures but don’t forget about the other four senses.  Sensory play not only gives children working knowledge about the world, like water is wet and how to balance, but it helps them with increasingly complex thoughts and tasks.
Edible sand aside, there are many other ways to encourage sensory play for your child. These toys don’t need to be fancy, expensive, or complex. It could be as simple as filling plastic jars with rice, beans, and rocks and letting the child shake them to hear what noise they make. It could even give them a snow globe to shake and watch the snowfall inside. Make musical instruments like an empty tissue box strung with some rubber bands, or even a drum in the form of a pot and a spot, if you dare. 
All in all, the sensory play doesn’t need to be complicated; it should be engaging and fun. Often when children are given the freedom to explore, you’ll find them experimenting on their own. So don’t worry when they mash their food with their fingers or spin around until they get dizzy. Their brains are hard at work.
- “A mom put Cheerios in a blender to create edible sand and parents are loving it.” Insider. Eleanor Goldberg. June 17, 2020
- “Mom’s TikTok On Making ‘Edible Sand’ Goes Viral And Others Try It Out.” Liucija Adomaite and Ilona Baliūnaitė. Bored Panda. 2020
- “Why Sensory Play Is Important.” Very Well Family. Amanda Morin. October 26, 2020
- “Sensory Play: 20 Great Activities for Your Toddler or Preschooler.” Healthline. Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP. June 15, 2020