Play is how babies discover and learn. From the first weeks, they are continually learning how to make sense of the world through smell, touch, taste, sight and sound. This is why sensory play is important. Anything that stimulates your baby’s senses and is fun can count as sensory play so really, the only limit is your imagination.
Here, we outline the benefits of sensory play and some ideas to help start you off. Always keep your child supervised during these play sessions.
Benefits of sensory play
Brain development: First and foremost, sensory play helps to build connections in the brain, which is a vital part of your babies brain development.
Motor skills: From about 5 months, your little one will be learning to grasp things and articulate their fingers and thumbs. Give them things to hold, squish, press and pull. Its a great way to help build those motor skills.
Language development: Your baby is listening all the time and starting to build the first understandings of language. Even though they may only be able to gurgle and coo at this age, they are taking in everything they hear. Play word games, read stories and sing songs to help to develop language skills for later on.
Problem solving skills: From the earliest ‘peek a boo’ games, your little one is starting to learn how to solve problems . This will help them to think analytically as they get older. Watch them start to pull away your hands during ‘peek a boo’ time. That’s problem solving right there.
Cause and effect: Sensory play can teach your baby the concept of cause and effect. If they take an action, it has an effect, like picking up and dropping something. They are very fond of doing this in their high chairs at mealtimes!
Baby Sensory Play Activites
These activities are suitable for babies aged 6-12 months and of course, supervision is always required. If you have an older child, around toddler age, they are sure to love joining in with these games.
Balloon Kick: Loosely tie a helium balloon to your baby’s leg and watch them kick away as the balloon moves. This is good for babies to do when lying down and improves eye tracking, movement and teaches cause & effect. Always keep baby supervised during this activity.
Jelly Treasure Hunt: This can be messy so use a sheet or mattress protector to keep your floor clean. Take a shallow dish and put some items for play in the bottom. These can be shapes, lids, large buttons…anything that makes them curious. Pour in the jelly and leave to set. Once ready, let your little one dig through the jelly to find them. This is great for touch, smell, problem solving, and taste. They will love the feel of the squishy jelly!
Stacking Blocks/Cups: These help to improve motor skills, teach cause and effect and analytic thinking as they learn how to place these on top of each other. If you have stacking cups, these can also be used in the bath to scoop and pour water.
Sorting: For children closer to the one year mark. Use your ClevaPortions container set for this and show them how to group and sort small items into each compartment. This is also helps to hone their fine motor skills. You may be surprised at how absorbed some children become while sorting. They find it very relaxing.
Discovery Basket: This one is so easy! Take a basket and pile in anything you think your little one might find interesting and watch them explore. Try a ball, a mirror, a light, a feather, something with wheels, something that makes noise, an old TV remote with buttons. You may be surprised what captivates your little one.
Board Books: For language skills and learning, there is nothing like a book. Point out the shapes and characters as you read. They will love the bright colours and will be listening to your words. A good one for ‘quiet time’.
Spaghetti Fun: Babies and young children love anything that feels squishy! If you’ve ever fed your child spaghetti, you will know they seem more interested in playing with it than eating it. So give them a bowl of cold spaghetti and let them get to work? To make it more interesting, you could separate it into batches and add a drop of food colouring to each batch for some multi-coloured madness.
Sensory play is the earliest form of teaching your little one about the world and makes for wonderful memories for parents. Keep your camera handy to snap some golden moments, and have fun!
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