You know that every moment with your baby is a precious one, and you want to make the most of it! One of the best ways to do just that is with sensory activities. Babies love to explore their environment through all their senses, from sight and hearing to taste and touch. Sensory play provides a great opportunity for your little one to learn about the world around them in an engaging and fun way.
What's even better is that sensory activities don't need to be complicated or expensive! In fact, many of the activities can be done with items you already have on hand. From homemade slime to finger painting, we’re going to share some of our favorite sensory play ideas that babies love. So let's get ready to play!
Making Music for Fun and Sensory Development
Making music is a fun and easy way to engage your baby in a sensory activity. Babies love music, and playing instruments or singing can help to stimulate their auditory and physical senses. There are plenty of easy-to-play instruments available, like maracas, bells, shakers or drums, that you can make your own rhythm with. You can also clap and tap along to nursery rhymes or sing your baby's favorite songs.
You can also make homemade instruments for extra fun like fill empty tissue boxes with rice and other objects for a shaker box, or use baby-safe paint to decorate plastic containers for a drum. Experiencing different sounds will help stimulate your baby's hearing development; just make sure that the sounds aren't too loud! Enjoy making memories together through musical fun.
Exploring Textures and Colors With Finger Paint
Finger paint is a fun and easy way to explore texture and color with your baby! Finger painting is also a great way to foster creativity and language development. With edible finger paints, you can make it even more fun! Since babies love putting everything in their mouth, they can play with the edible paints without worrying about getting it inside their mouth.
To get started, all you need is some paper, edible paint made from corn flour and water, and your little one’s clean fingers. You can also provide various items to build textures such as sponges, popsicle sticks, tissue paper or even cotton balls. Encourage your baby to explore these shapes and textures by touching them with the different paints on their fingers. Talk about the colors of the paint to give your little one new words for their growing vocabulary.
Introducing Water Play to Early Learners
Introducing water play to your baby is an easy way to get them involved and introduce them to sensory activities as well. Water play can be as simple as splashing around in the bathtub or as elaborate as making a home-made bubble bath!
Bath Time Fun
Most babies love spending time in the bath, so why not make it a fun-filled adventure? Add in some cool toys, like stacking rings, or colorful rubber ducks or boats, and let them explore. You can also make it a sensory experience with items like soft cloths and sponges.
Homemade Bubble Bath
You can easily make your own bubble bath for your little one by mixing together 2 cups of warm water with 1/2 cup of mild liquid soap in a container. Add a few drops of natural food coloring for extra fun and then blow into the solution while stirring with a whisk or spoon to create lots of bubbles! Be sure to supervise your baby when they’re in the tub at all times and keep them safe by ensuring the water is not too hot. For older babies, try adding different shapes and textures into their playtime such as scoops, jugs and measuring cups.
Tugging Fun: Baby Pull Toys & Games
Tugging and pulling are activities that babies of all ages love. From soft material like blankets, to harder plastics like building blocks, tugging and pulling stimulates the muscles and encourages development.
There are a few great ways to incorporate these types of activities into your daily routine with your baby:
Toys that require tugging
Pull toys are a great way to get your baby moving! Push-pull toys, such as wagons and wheeled animals, allow your baby to pull fun characters along on their adventures. Alternatively, try a few of the classic pull toys like wooden blocks connected with string or rubber band sticks; these simple toys can provide hours of entertainment for little ones.
Providing your baby with textured materials is another great way to encourage sensory play. Soft fabrics like fleece and terry cloth provide tactile stimulation with gentle textures; whereas ribbed or crinkled paper gives an interesting tactile experience. You can also add a few colorful balls or feathers! Put all these items in a large laundry basket or box for an extra challenging activity.
Playing tug-of-war with blankets is one of the best ways for your baby to spend some time enjoying different textures. Spread out two different blankets on the floor—one soft and one crunchy—and let your baby explore by tugging and feeling each one. It’s a fun way to bond with your baby!
Delight in Bubble Blowing With Babies
Bubbles are a delight for both the youngest and oldest of kids! Blowing bubbles with babies provides a wonderful sensory experience, as they can observe the otherworldly, shiny globes of soapy water and how their parents interact in the moment.
That's right! Remember to take as much pleasure in bubble-blowing as your baby does! Talk and giggle together, and enjoy the moment when you capture their little faces lit up with wonder. It's also an opportunity to teach cause and effect, and physical coordination. They can learn that they can move their own body to make bubbles come out of the wand.
Here are some tips for successful bubble-blowing with babies:
- Give your baby the bubble wand—they'll love gripping it! For younger babies, use a shorter wand with bigger handles
- Start close to your little one’s face before blowing bubbles from further away
- Let them touch the bubbles. It's safe, just note that popping them will give them a startle or frighten some children
- Name all the colors and shapes you see in your rainbow bubble-scapes!
Engaging Baby With Swinging & Bouncing
You don't have to run out and buy expensive toys or gadgets to keep your baby engaged and entertained. Simple, classic activities like swinging and bouncing are among the most effective and fun ways to engage babies.
When you swing your little one, make sure to pay attention to how they respond as some prefer a gentle sway while others like a more forceful motion. Also be mindful of their body language as they may let you know when they’ve had enough.
Bouncing is another fun activity for babies because it helps them develop balance and body awareness skills as well as strengthens their neck and core muscles. Plus, it's incredibly cute!
Here are some tips for bouncing your little one:
- Start slow and then gradually increase the speed if your baby responds positively.
- For added fun, try gently tossing your baby into the air while singing a song or playing music at a softer volume so as not to startle them.
- Make sure not to bounce too vigorously or toss them too high, as this can cause discomfort, pain, or overstimulation.
Uncovering Hidden Treasures in Sensory Bins
If you’re looking for something a bit more involved yet still fun, why not try setting up sensory bins? You can create a sensory experience just about anywhere! There are plenty of items you can add to your bin that’ll keep your baby happy and engaged.
Sensory bins are like a treasure hunt for babies, allowing them to explore and uncover different objects at their own pace. Plus, they get hands-on experience with a variety of textures, shapes, and colors without the risk of hazardous items. All you need to do is pick a few toys or objects with different sizes, textures, shapes and let your baby explore!
Some great everyday items to add to the bin could be:
- Soft fabric scraps
- Rice or dried beans
- Seashells or corks
- Plastic animals
- Wooden blocks
- Foam soap
- Balls in various sizes
What’s also great about this activity is that it works on multiple levels, not only improving fine motor skills but also introducing language such as associating words with the hidden treasures being uncovered.
Enjoying Storytime Through Textured Books & Pages
Storytime is a great way to get your baby engaged with words and pictures. But why not take it one step further by reading textured books and pages? Babies love exploring different textures, so why not combine those two things and make them part of the fun?
You don’t need expensive materials or complicated supplies to add texture to your stories.
Here are some ideas that you can use to get started:
- Fabric: You can use a variety of fabrics like felt, burlap, corduroy and more. Cut out shapes in the fabric or let your baby feel directly off of the cut pieces.
- Sponges: Cut out different shapes in sponges using scissors and craft punches, such as circles, stars, hearts or animals -- whatever suits your fancy!
- Stickers: Stickers are a great way to add a bit of texture without having to do any cutting. You can find stickers at craft stores that come in various shapes and sizes.
- Cotton Balls & Poms: Cotton balls are an easy source of soft texture that babies love! You can also opt for pom-poms for added color and contrast in size.
- Rice & Beans: Place uncooked rice or beans inside a clear plastic bag so you baby can feel its textured surface -- just be sure to keep an eye on her at all times when she's playing with these items!
Just like any other sensory activity, textured books & pages should be used in moderation. Too much stimulation will cause sensory overload for baby, so be mindful of how much time you spend on this activity.
Rewarding Play With Baby Snack Time
It's time for snack time! Now that your baby has had their fill of sensory play, reward them with a delicious snack.
Snack time is not only a great way to get your bundle of joy something yummy, but it's also a great way to engage their senses. Showing your child different colors, textures, and shapes of food help spark their imagination. Plus, you can have some fun that won't make too much of a mess.
Ideas for snack time:
- Puzzles or mazes to get them engaged before or after eating
- A bit of music can help keep your child in the moment
- Finger foods like fruits, cheese cubes or crackers
- Cute little containers filled with healthy snacks
- Mealtime activities such as singing songs or playing peekaboo
Babies love snack time because it provides them with sensory satisfaction as well as nutritional benefits. What's not to love? For mommas, don't forget to set aside some extra time and energy to make sure they get the best of both worlds!
All in all, sensory games and activities are an important part of a baby’s development, and can be a fun and easy way to spend quality time with your little one. Whether you choose to do something as simple as a game of peek-a-boo or something more complicated like homemade activities, even the crankiest babies will love taking part in them. Get creative, get messy, and have a fantastic time together! Just make sure to supervise your little one at all times!
The information provided is not meant to be a substitute for expert medical advice, diagnosis, or care. Always ask your doctor or another qualified health provider for advice if you have any concerns about a medical issue. Never dismiss or put off getting expert medical advice because of something you read on Bub’s Blog. babybub does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this site.