You may be asking yourself, “What is sensory play?” and “How can I start sensory play with my baby?” We’re here to help!
From tasting, touching, and smelling, to seeing, moving, and hearing, babies love to engage all of their senses! Not only do the benefits of sensory play for babies promote the development of their growing brains, but it can be deeply rewarding for you to watch as your little one explores the world around them. As a new mom, experiencing new textures, tasting new foods, learning about cause and effect, and making discoveries alongside your child is like seeing everything for the first time all over again. While the options for sensory play are endless, here are some of the most popular sensory activities for babies.
Fun with Food
When your little one begins to experiment with baby food, this presents a great opportunity for sensory play! According to PubMed.com, sensory play activities using fruits and vegetables may have more benefits for children than non-food play or visual exposure alone can offer. Letting your baby mush pureed food together and eat with their hands is tremendously beneficial for occupational and oral development, tactile exploration, and engaging tastes, smells, and colorful sights. While it may be messy, it is also tons of fun! For a cleaner option, many parents love to let their little ones engage in sensory play with cold, cooked spaghetti noodles. Also, try adding a few drops of food coloring into the water as the noodles are boiling - this makes for a colorful playtime as well!
Many kids love water play! For younger babies, you can dribble a little water on a cooking sheet (with a towel underneath, of course!), add a couple balls or small toys (such as our Balls, Blocks & Buddies), and watch them explore the wet space. Not only is this activity fun, but it is a great learning tool as well. As your little one begins to sit up and become more active, they can play in our soft and supportive Whale Bubble Bath Inflatable Bath Tub! This tub turns into a splashy ball pit with 10 floating balls and a jingling tail for sensory engagement.
Or Pat & Play Water Mat is also a great way to engage your baby with water play while also keeping things mess-free! This mat is perfect for tummy time and your baby will have a blast playing with the various toys floating inside.
Overall, water play is beneficial as babies are able to feel the wetness and temperature of the water all over their bodies while watching the ripples and splashes they make with their hands in the water. They are also able to listen to the sound of the water and their hands or toys splashing, and most babies will try to taste the water as well! All of these sensory experiences aid in cognitive development, especially in the area of cause and effect.
The reasons why tummy time is important stretch far and wide beyond what may come to most people’s minds. It is an activity that stimulates multiple senses and helps develop fine motor skills, especially when using a sensory play mat for babies. Being on their tummy allows babies to focus on their surroundings more effectively, helping them practice vision and focus. While exploring through touch, babies become more aware of textures and surfaces especially when they are equipped with sensory play toys. During this activity, they are also able to turn their heads towards sounds, allowing them to make connections between items and people they see and the sounds they make.
As far as sensory play ideas go, when introducing sensory stimulation play during tummy time, an engaging activity mat can help keep babies interested. The Deluxe Twist & Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat™ provides a soft, engaging play space. This fun activity gym has a wind-up musical mobile that encourages eye-tracking while playing a soft and sweet lullaby. Four small, repositionable toys encourage batting and grabbing, while the large ring attachments allow these toys to be used with your stroller and car seat as well! A prop pillow and mirror for engagement are also included.
Also, our Grow-With-Me Activity Gym & Ball Pit includes a sensory-stimulating ball pit with 40 colorful balls and 4 adorable sea pals that encourage reaching and playing. This gym can also easily be folded down into a mat, perfect for tummy time stimulation.
When to start sensory play is personal to every parent and baby, but starting as early as possible will help your baby to reap the benefits of this engaging type of playtime.
These are just some of the many activities that you can do to engage your baby’s senses. However, the most important thing to do to help your little one’s sensory development is to spend time playing with them! Be sure to enjoy this special time together.