Why do babies need sensory play?
Babies are curious and want to explore their surroundings. They love to touch, feel, taste and smell new things. Sensory play is an excellent opportunity for parents to stimulate their five senses. We have compiled a list of 20 different activities for babies and toddlers that will surely keep your little one busy!
These ideas are great for babies who are around 0 to 12 months old. Some activities could be beneficial to children up to 36 months or older depending on their motor skills abilities. However, you should always consider your baby’s safety when doing sensory play.
A stimulating environment is what we prioritise. Okinja ELC and Kindergarten ensures that all children learn in a safe, warm and homey environment. If your child loves the beach, then this is the perfect learning centre for them. Enrol your child now!
20 Sensory Play Activities for Babies and Toddlers
Here are 20 sensory play ideas for babies! You can either try them out or use them as inspiration for creating your own sensory games.
This is as simple as letting your baby lie on your chest and have them feel different textures by gently stroking their arms or legs. You can also give them a gentle back massage using the same sensory materials.
Skin contact allows you to build a stronger connection with your baby and helps improve their body awareness! It stimulates their sense of touch, promotes bonding, helps develop motor skills and reduces stress through the release of endorphins.
2. Finger Paint
Babies love to mess around with colours and sensory paints. To keep your baby safe, you may use different sensory play paint recipes you can create at home from edible items like pureed carrots, pumpkin or sweet potatoes to baking soda and cornstarch!
To get the maximum experience for kids, it is best that the paint is in direct contact with their hands so they can feel the sensory materials. This is an excellent way to stimulate your baby’s senses while having fun creating colourful masterpieces!
3. Tummy Time
Like skin-to-skin, this activity develops your baby’s neck and shoulder muscle strength. You may put your awake infant on their tummy and gently stroke their back for at least 10 to 15 seconds a day.
4. Different Coloured Balls
Babies love sensory play activities that involve movement. You can place bouncy balls in a sensory bin and let your baby explore them using their hands! Using this game, babies will improve their hand-eye coordination while learning colours.
You can also try throwing the balls at your baby so they can catch it or roll the ball on the floor for your baby to chase after.
5. Cloud Dough
This sensory play experience is all about hand and finger movement. They will be curious about the texture of the dough and will be excited to touch it. You can introduce different sensory play materials by adding them to the sensory dough, like uncooked rice, pasta or dried beans!
Basic play dough is a great sensory material as it’s easy for your baby to handle and can also help improve their fine motor skills.
6. Outdoor Observation
Sensory play isn’t just about indoor games. It also includes going outdoors and letting your child experience sensory materials in their natural habitat. It’s sensory play at its best!
Let your baby explore different sensory objects like grass, sand or mud and let them feel the textures with their hands while you describe what they are feeling.
7. Pastes and Cream
Messy play is a fun activity for babies aged 6 to 8 months. Enhance their fine motor skills by introducing sensory play materials like pastes, gels and mud creams. Get your baby to explore the textures with their hands while also smelling them.
You can also try sensory play by painting a mural on a wall or letting them do body art using sensory items.
8. Rattles and Bells
Adults may not like it, but babies love creating noises. Letting them play with sensory objects that make a noise will stimulate their awareness. You can use sensory play materials like bells, shakers and rattles in different ways to stimulate your baby’s sense of sound.
9. Plastic Bins and Beans
This is the most common sensory activity for sensory play. Put different sensory materials in a sensory bin filled with water or sand, and let your baby explore it using their hands.
This activity is great because babies love to feel small objects, like beans, moving inside their fingers. It also strengthens their hand muscles while they play.
10. Stacking Toys
Building blocks are sensory play tools that promote sensory development. Let your baby stack the blocks, identify colours and shapes while developing their fine motor skills! Block building toys are great for enhancing cognitive development as well.
11. Toy Guitar
Around the age of 8 to 10 months, babies start to learn sensory materials through play. They are also developing their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, making musical instruments, like a toy guitar, perfect for the job! Let your baby strum on the strings of their toy guitar while enjoying the music
12. Water Play and Splash
Babies love messing around with water during playtime. You can add plastic items, like flowers, leaves and even plastic animals, in a sensory bin filled with water and let them feel the different textures while observing them.
13. Bubble Pop
Blow bubbles and let your child pop them with their hands. They will surely enjoy how the bubbles move before popping them and will be excited to do it again. Bubble play is sensory development at its best as your child will develop hand-eye coordination and learn how small things move.
14. Play with Fabric Scraps
If you love sewing and making creative stuff, you are sure to have some scraps of fabric at home. You can introduce sensory play with fabrics by letting them touch the different textures and feel the material with their hands.
15. Sensory Bags
Sensory bags are great tools to stimulate your baby’s sensory play skills through touch, smell and sound. You can make them on your own using old socks or stockings filled with rice or lentils (for the weight), dried pasta (for rattling sounds) and beans (to create a crackly sound).
16. Textured Surprise Board
With this idea, you can make sensory play as simple as you can. Just cut a board of any size and paint it with different sensory textures. Add sensory items to the board, ensuring that they all deal with the sense of touch.
17. Play with Sand
If you cannot go to the beach and play with sand, you can buy from stores near you and let your child play with sand at home. Playing with sand will give them the sensation of being on the beach.
18. Bubble Wrap Finger Painting
Do your online purchases come wrapped in bubble wrap? Instead of throwing it away or simply popping the bubbles, make it a canvas for your child to create their artwork.
19. Ice Play
If you have a freezer, you do not need to buy ice blocks from the market to enjoy this sensory activity with your baby! Let them play with ice cubes and feel the coldness of it.
20. Hula Hoop
For kids old enough to wiggle their hips, this activity is perfect for sensory play! Let them jump inside your Hula Hoop and feel the different textures on the material of their sensory workout.
Here in Okinja ELC and Kindergarten, we give emphasis on play-based learning to provide children with a strong foundation that leads to their overall growth. Click here to know more about our philosophy.
Benefits of Sensory Play for Babies
Promotes sensory-motor skills development
Playing sensory games enhances your baby’s sensory-motor skills, including hand-eye coordination. It also helps to increase their fine motor abilities as they make movements with the materials.
Encourages experimentation and problem solving
Babies love exploring their surroundings through sensory play activities that allow them to learn and discover new things. It also promotes problem-solving by allowing them to find solutions for the sensory play materials they are playing with.
Expands vocabulary & language skills
Sensory activities help babies learn about words and objects through their senses, which makes it easier for you to expand your baby’s vocabulary later on. You can show your baby different sensory materials and then describe them using sensory words.
Sensory play allows your baby to be creative as they can invent sensory games of their own. Your baby can also independently create sensory materials, by mixing items together or using objects for a different purpose than their usual one.
Boosts brain development
Babies that are exposed to sensory play are more likely to have better sensory processing skills. This means they are more capable of learning faster and retaining knowledge for longer!
Why is Sensory Play Important?
Through sensory play activities, babies are able to develop their sensory skills without even noticing them. It also promotes creativity and problem-solving for them as they discover new things every day through sensory games.
As a parent, what’s better than knowing your child is in good hands? Okinja ELC and Kindergarten takes pride in promoting lifelong learning through play-based activities. We strive to create a safe environment where children can learn and grow, as well as establish a sense of identity.