Does your baby try to eat every sensory activity you prepare? This homemade sensory dough made from rice cereal and applesauce feels very similar to regular play dough, but it is no-cook, gluten-free and 100% safe to eat!
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I never would have expected this if you had told me a few years ago, but somehow trying new play dough recipes has become an almost weekly occurrence at our house—especially if they’re taste-safe or edible.
A lot of the edible recipes have a similar (though not identical) texture, because most of them are made with cornstarch. So while it’s practical to have recipes that use a variety of different ingredients, I usually know what to expect when I try a new recipe.
This was not one of those time.
It took me a few tries to get this one right, but once I did, I was completely blown away. Its texture is completely unlike any of the other edible play dough recipes I’ve tried. In fact, it feels almost exactly like regular homemade play dough… except that instead of being full of salt, it’s made from baby food!
This baby cereal dough is perfect for infants and toddlers who like to put things in their mouths, because it is not only non-toxic, but also 100% safe to eat.
And because it holds its shape so well, it doesn’t get crumbly or messy… unless your kids are like our one-year-old, who enjoyed pinching little bits of it off and throwing them on the floor. (But I can hardly blame that on the play dough!)
This edible sensory dough recipe is easy to make and totally safe for babies and toddlers. It is also no-cook and gluten-free, which makes it perfect for kids with coeliac disease—even if they’re old enough to know not to eat it.
And even if your child can eat gluten, this play dough has the closest consistency to regular play dough than any edible recipe I’ve ever tried. Plus, it smells like apples. Who would have thought that you could make such awesome homemade play dough with applesauce and rice cereal?!
I think I may have found a new favourite edible play dough recipe… and my toddlers seemed to enjoy it, too!
Note: This play dough is not meant to be eaten as a snack, but it won’t harm your child if they decide to sneak a taste. To reduce the risk of choking and ensure that your child doesn’t have any trouble digesting the cornstarch, I recommend waiting until your baby is at least 12 months old before giving them this play dough.
How to Make Taste-Safe Play Dough with Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce
Here’s what you’ll need to whip up a batch of baby-safe play dough for your infant or toddler to play with:
- ⅓ cup baby rice cereal
- ⅓ cup cornstarch (you may know it as “corn flour” if you live in the U.K.)
- 3 tbsp applesauce (sweetened applesauce can work, but unsweetened is better if you can find it because the added sugar in sweetened applesauce can make the play dough sticky)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil (you can also use coconut oil, but it has a tendency to seize up when it gets too cold, so I recommend that you use vegetable oil if you have it)
- Food colouring (liquid or gel)
Note: Want to switch things up? Try using unsweetened Kool-Aid powder instead of food colouring to add a fun scent to your edible baby cereal play dough!
1. Combine Rice Cereal & Cornstarch
Start by pouring ⅓ cup of baby rice cereal and ⅓ cup of cornstarch into a bowl. Stir them together with a spoon until the ingredients are well combined.
Please note that this recipe yields a small ball of play dough that is perfect for one baby or toddler.
If that isn’t enough, you can always make several colours or multiply the quantities. But I don’t recommend making more than you need since it will only last a few days in the fridge.
Besides, this recipe is simple enough that you can always just make more if needed.
And because each ball is so small, one box of baby cereal should get you pretty far—I was able to make seven balls of play dough with mine while I was experimenting with quantities, and I still had enough left over to make at least one or two more!
2. Add Food Colouring to Applesauce
Place 3 tablespoons of applesauce in a small bowl and stir in some food colouring.
This recipe only makes a small amount of play dough, so a little goes a long way. I used about 4 drops of liquid food colouring and the colour was quite vibrant; I also made a batch using gel food colouring and only needed a few small squirts.
It is really up to you to choose how much you want to use. And if ever you’re not happy with how vibrant the colour is, you can always knead some more colouring into the finished play dough!
3. Stir Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients
Pour the coloured applesauce, along with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, into the dry mixture. Then, stir them together with a spoon as best you can.
If ever you have trouble combining the ingredients with a spoon, don’t worry—that’s totally normal. Just stir them as much as you can, then move on to the next step.
4. Knead Play Dough
Once you’ve gotten as far as you can go with the spoon, set it aside and start combining the ingredients with your hands. Keep kneading until the ingredients are fully combined and the dough feels soft and elastic.
If needed, you can add a bit more cornstarch if the play dough feels too sticky, or a bit more applesauce if it feels too crumbly. Just keep making adjustments until you’re happy with the texture.
I was actually blown away at how much this applesauce dough felt like “regular” play dough even though it doesn’t contain any flour, salt or cream of tartar. It doesn’t even require any heating or cooking, yet it feels really similar to cooked play dough!
And unlike some of the other cornstarch-based play dough recipes that we’ve tried, which became crumbly pretty quickly, this one retained its elasticity for quite some time. (I’m guessing it has something to do with the rice cereal.)
At 18 months, our youngest is past the rice cereal stage. But now that we have this recipe, I’ll probably keep a box on hand just in case.
She is starting to enjoy the sensory bins and sensory activities I prepare, so having one more taste-safe play dough recipe in my arsenal will definitely come in handy!
And because this rice cereal play dough has a consistency that is so similar to that of salt-based play dough, you can do all the same things with it, including flattening it with a rolling pin and cutting it into different shapes using cookie cutters.
Even if your child is an older toddler or preschooler who doesn’t try to put everything in their mouth, this edible play dough would make a fantastic sensory dough alternative for kids who have gluten sensitivity or coeliac disease!
How to Store Homemade Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough
Unlike traditional play dough, this baby-safe play dough recipe doesn’t contain any salt or cream of tartar that would help preserve it. Therefore, like all edible sensory play activities made from perishable food ingredients, it won’t keep for more than a few days.
After our kids were done playing with the play dough, I placed each colour in a separate zip-top bag and placed all the bags in the fridge. When they were ready to play again, I took the bags out of the fridge and was amazed to find that the dough was still very elastic and not crumbly at all!
I recommend that you keep your baby play dough in the fridge too, since once of its ingredients is applesauce, which needs to be refrigerated. If needed, bring it back to room temperature or add a bit of applesauce to restore its stretchiness before play.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact timeframe since the amount of time that the play dough will last depends on several factors, including the ambient temperature, the amount of time your child spends playing with the dough and how clean their hands and work surface are when they’re playing.
To get the most use out of this recipe, make sure to discard any pieces of dough that look filthy before you put it away. And whenever you are taking it out of the fridge for play time, make sure it doesn’t smell spoiled and check everywhere for mould before allowing your child play with it.
If all goes well, you should be able to get several uses out of each batch. And you can always just whip up another batch if needed since it is so simple to make!
Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough
- ⅓ cup baby rice cereal
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 3 tbsp applesauce
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- liquid or gel food colouring as needed
- Pour rice cereal and cornstarch into a medium bowl and stir until combined.
- In a small bowl, add some food colouring to the applesauce and stir until the colour is evenly distributed throughout.
- Add the applesauce and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon to combine.
- When stirring with a spoon is no longer effective, set aside the spoon and continue kneading with your hands until the play dough feels smooth and elastic, adding more cornstarch or applesauce as needed to improve the texture of the dough.
- Repeat the previous steps with as many colours are you would like to make, then give it to your child to play with. Play dough can be stored in a zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days when not in use.
Related Taste-Safe Play Dough Recipes
Looking for more edible play dough recipes to make for your infant or toddler? Check out these recipes:
- 3-Ingredient Frosting Play Dough
- Edible No-Cook Jell-O Play Dough
- 2-Ingredient Pudding Play Dough
- Chocolate Frosting Play Dough
- Edible Marshmallow Play Dough
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