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You might be familiar with sensory activities and play for toddlers and preschoolers, but you might not be as familiar when it comes to sensory play for babies and what you (and the baby!) can do.
So often worry about entertaining our toddlers with sensory activities but forget that our babies also benefit from sensory play.
Even at a young age, babies take in their surroundings and learn about the world around them.
Activities such as sensory play are crucial for developing specific cognitive skills, fine motor skills, language development, and improving social interaction.
To give you a better understanding of what sensory games look like for babies, I’m going to cover three easy sensory play ideas that I used on my own babies that really aided their development!
Block Towers are a great sensory tool for babies. When babies start crawling, they love knocking over everything in their path. So, I decided to use block towers to engage my son in a little sensory play while also teaching him the concept of cause-and-effect.
My son started to pick up on the fact that they fell every time he touched the block tower. Seeing the blocks fall only made him want to do it more!
He also loved putting them in his mouth while he was teething! He eventually realized that the blocks didn’t taste very good; however, the blocks helped introduce him to different textures!
Simple activities such as block towers are a great way to introduce concepts like gravity, cause-and-effect, and improve focus.
In addition, your baby will start picking up the blocks with their little hands, which enhances their fine motor skills to grasp the block.
Similarly, your baby will begin understanding the sense of touch by feeling the block in their hands and using their senses to determine what and how they are used.
Finger Painting with Baby Food
Kids love finger painting because they love engaging in messy play (even though parents cringe at the thought of a messy child).
However, finger painting is a wonderful sensory play experience, especially for babies. For example, your baby uses their little fingers to paint on a canvas, using their sense of touch.
In addition, using baby food as “paint” allows your baby to taste the food and determine if it tastes good or not. Finger painting also increases your baby’s attention span because they’re having to focus on dipping their finger into the baby food and using it to make a masterpiece!
Sensory play activities like finger painting are also a great way to introduce color to your little one!
I laid out butcher paper for my older son and left my baby in his high chair for this activity. Then, I took two tubs of baby food and dumped them into two separate pans.
I gave one to my older son and one to my younger son. I also gave them race cars to make tracks in their baby food, which they absolutely loved!
The best way to incorporate this activity is by introducing it during mealtime. Since your baby is already going to eat the food, they might as well have fun with it!
Sound Sensory Play Activity for Babies
When we think of our child’s senses, we often forget sound. However, sound is just as important as any of the other senses! This simple activity requires a few materials:
- Small plastic containers
- Rice or Rainbow Rice if you’re feeling fancy!
- Dried beans
- Wooden blocks
- A baby and a blanket!
I put the rice and dried beans into the small plastic containers and lightly tapped them on the floor while my baby was on his tummy.
He immediately responded and was intrigued by the sound the containers made. I also banged the spoons together to create a different noise. Not only that, but I also verbally said what I was doing so that my baby would understand the process!
The best way to incorporate an activity like this is through tummy time. Instead of having your baby watch a show or play with toys, you can do this fun activity with them!
If you want to get extra fancy, you can pretend you’re using musical instruments and make it a concert for your baby!
Benefits of Sensory Play for Babies
Your baby’s brain is introduced to thousands of stimuli, each contributing to sensory development. Introducing sensory games as a form of early learning is an easy way to use those stimuli to engage their brains.
In addition, using sensory materials allows your baby to use each of their senses, helping them learn about the world around them.
Using various items like a rice bin, a clear plastic bottle, sensory baskets, edible paint, and a sensory table are great ways to incorporate different materials in a fun way.
This type of play is essential in the early stages of your baby’s life because it helps them develop other necessary skills as they grow into adulthood.
For example, when your baby uses their hands to grab things or point, they use fine motor skills. As they grow older, your child will be able to use those foundational skills for things like drawing, writing, using scissors, and more!
How to Incorporate Sensory Play Games Into Your Baby’s Life
You can use the three examples above along with your baby’s favorite toys, little bins filled with a variety of textures, or cloud dough!
Choose a simple activity that provides a little sensory stimulation every day to strengthen your baby’s development.
Fun activities like these will help your baby associate learning with fun, which will help them in school and everyday life.