Sensory play activities for babies
We arrive in this world with not the slightest clue what we’re doing. We then spend the bulk of our early months forming a very strong relationship with wanting to be cuddled, fed and loved. But do we truly engage all our senses in those early months of childhood?
Yes, we test out our vocal range at 10 pm, 12 pm, 2 am, 4 am and 6 am and we get a decent sensory response from that – someone picks us up, cuddles and bounces us.
Yet, there is so much more to being a baby than sleeping, crying and eating. From day one we are absorbing life’s experiences in our own little way. The nature of those experiences can play a large part in forming who we are.
Therefore as parents, we have the opportunity to pick and choose those experiences; nice experiences, attention-grabbing great sensory experiences that stimulate our little bundle of joy in positive ways.
One of the most rewarding ways we can do that is with baby sensory play; most importantly play that engages all the senses – touch, smell, taste – and arouses a baby’s curiosity. Kids love it and, not surprisingly, babies do too. So here are some baby sensory play ideas you can add to your infant entertainment repertoire right now.
Let’s start with one that never fails to get a baby’s eyes widening with delight. Blowing bubbles will simply never lose its freshness for the sense of wonder it creates in new babies.
Simply lay baby on a comfortable rug where you can sit nice and close and start blowing bubbles! No doubt you’ll also derive plenty of pleasure from this simple sensory play watching your baby’s mesmerised eyes track each bubble as it floats and pops.
Just be careful not to get too close in case the soap bubbles pop in baby’s eyes.
2. Jelly surprises
A nice messy one, but your baby will love it, especially as they can eat while they play and discover.
Simply make your favourite jellies and stick fun things into each blob of jelly before it sets – beans, rice, small toys, whatever seems like a fun thing for a baby to discover.
Then give the baby the set jelly to squish and prod (and eat) as they discover all the little things hidden and suspended inside. Digging through the jelly also helps your child with fine motor skills.
And yes, the mess is a certainty, so lay a mat or do this one in the bath for easy cleanup. Oh, and remember, the baby will put everything in their mouth, so keep an eye on them and make sure you use surprises that won’t choke.
3. Finger painting
Your child is never too young to introduce to the wonderfully creative world of finger painting. If your child is still very young, you’ll probably need to hold their little hand and direct it around the paper to start, but they’ll soon get the idea. If you are looking for a less messy option, shaving cream in the bathtub can also make a great finger painting option. If your baby loves eating everything, make sure you use non-toxic paint or look at edible finger paint options such as tomato sauce on their highchair table.
And hey, some of the supposedly great works of art have most of us scratching our heads, so let baby create their own masterpiece no matter how chaotic it looks.
4. Ice cubes
They might be just a way to cool a drink to you, but to a baby, ice cubes are cold, melting wonders of the world. Best of all, your baby can use all their senses to appreciate the ice as it melts and slips and slides about.
Again, a bit messy even if it is only water, but this sensory play is perfect for the bath or outside on a lovely day.
As your baby gets older, the plays can get more complicated. But for those first 12 months, these four examples are simple, effective ways to get them experiencing new feelings and emotions.