Last week, I talked about sensory ideas for keeping kids busy. While most people think of the Pinterest-worthy bins of rice with small animals or dinosaurs, sensory play is just about anything that engages the senses. So what exactly is sensory play? It includes any activity that stimulates baby’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, or hearing. The idea is to encourage your baby to use their senses to play, create, investigate and explore. Here are five simple ideas to start doing sensory play with your baby:
- Use cereal instead of rice! Cheerios, Fruit Loops, or anything you are comfortable with them eating. Tuck in some baby-safe toys like maybe a Green Toy car (they are dishwasher safe) so baby can crunch the cereal.
- Sensory blankets like Baby Jack loveys are so fun for babies to explore. They crinkle, have a soft side, and fun patterns. Plus you feel comfortable leaving them with the baby since all the loops are sewn shut.
- Put ice in a bin or in their bathtub with them. Babies love to try and grasp ice plus the temperature difference makes it interesting to watch their reactions. For bigger kids, a popsicle bath is awesome. Who cares how messy they get!
- Yogurt "painting". Grab some plain yogurt and add a little bit of food coloring. The baby can "paint" or have a snack. This one is great to keep a baby occupied in their high chair.
- Mix some cornstarch with a little bit of water in a bowl or baking dish. The mixture will look like a liquid but turns into a solid when the baby puts pressure on it. The changing texture is very fun and really engages their sense of touch.
I know this sounds kind of messy, especially the yogurt and cornstarch ideas. So a few ideas to contain the mess are to put the baby in the bathtub, place baby in their high chair and use a mat under it, or use a baby pool. When Sky was a baby, we had a baby pool I kept in the basement for sensory play (we mostly kept balls in it). Now she has a long, clear storage bin that we use. The bonus of the bin is that we can put the lid on it and tuck it under the bed when we are done for the day. We do not recommend leaving a baby alone during sensory play.
Sensory play is a great way to engage your little one, watch them investigate the world around them, and get some great photos.