LifeRelationshipsSensory Play: 10 Engaging Activities To Try With Your Babies & Toddlers

Sensory Play: 10 Engaging Activities To Try With Your Babies & Toddlers

Remember the feeling of the ocean waves on your feet the first time you went to the beach? Or how certain smells evoke memories you didn’t even know you had? And why does watching sand and slime videos online give you some odd satisfaction? That’s because these are all sensory experiences! They involve your vision, smell and most importantly, your skin. Your bodies have a natural affinity to sensory stimulation and all activities that cater to it. And that’s why sensory play is particularly important for growing kids whose senses are still developing.

What Are Sensory Activities?

Sensory activity is anything that encourages the use of different senses, through touching, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing and moving. These experiences nurture a basic understanding of the people, places, and stuff that populate the lives of your children. Along with that, they help develop motor and communication skills that your baby will need to interact with the world.

Benefits Of Engaging In Sensory Activities

Babies’ brains develop as they process information using their senses, and more sensory play encourages better brain development. Sensory play also directly influences the development of fine and gross motor skills.

  • Increases neural connections in the brain
  • Increases body awareness in kids as they use different parts in different ways
  • Stimulates all senses, so every sense develops at the same pace
  • Increases children’s comfort levels in unfamiliar situations and surroundings
  • Allows young babies a gradual exposure to more stimuli rather than overwhelming the senses at once
  • Builds a foundation for problem-solving and other learning skills
  • Helps calm children down and reduces anxiety
  • Teaches basic scientific processes by studying cause and effect

Engaging in sensory play with your baby can be the best way to bond while introducing them to the world. So try out these 10 sensory activities and play along to help them grow and blossom.

10 Activities That Help Develop The Senses In Your Child

1. Grain Bin

Forget kids, many of us still can’t stop ourselves from playing with the grains stacked in gunny bags at the local grocery store. It’s a highly entertaining sensory experience and one you should try with your kid. 

How To Do It:

  1. Once your baby is old enough to grasp things, bring out a bin.
  2. Dump a bag or two of uncooked rice, wheat or any other grain into the bin.
  3. Maybe bury a tiny toy for them to dig through.
  4. And let your child have a great time!

2. Water Play

Water play is a fantastic activity for developing children’s hand-eye coordination as they learn to pour, squeeze and stir. These activities help to develop and strengthen children’s gross and fine motor skills. And who doesn’t like splashing around in the water, no matter the age!

How To Do It:

  1. Fill up a flat tray with edges or a baking sheet with water.
  2. Add a few bathtime toys.
  3. If your baby wants, they can do this while doing some tummy time as well.
  4. Let them frolic in the water to their heart’s content.
  5. Don’t forget to put down a towel to avoid a mess.

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3. Texture Book

If “don’t touch” is what you keep telling your child, it means you have a curious kid who loves exploring with their hands. That’s where these touch-and-feel books swoop in to save the day. Encourage your baby to touch and feel with such books and help them develop valuable motor skills in the process.

How To Do It:

  1. Research and check the top texture books available for your child’s age.
  2. Pick one and buy it. 
  3. Let your kid have fun with it!

4. Scent Jars

Ideas for sensory activities that cater to smell can be hard to come up with. Yet, they are as important as any other sensory play. In fact, developing a sense of smell is tied to facilitating learning through memories. And that’s why you get nostalgic when you smell certain scents!

How To Do It:

  1. Put some peppermint extract or essential oil on a cotton ball, lavender essential oil on another, and lemon juice or lemon essential oil on another cotton ball. 
  2. Place each cotton ball into a container. 
  3. Have your child guess what each smell is.
  4. You can use coloured cotton balls to make it visually stimulating as well.

5. Hand Painting

This messy but fun activity is just what your toddler needs. It is an excellent tactile experience that stimulates your child’s senses, helps a child’s intellectual development and allows them to use their imagination. It is also an emotionally soothing activity that encourages cognitive development and strengthens fine motor skills.

How To Do It:

  1. Buy child-friendly, washable paint that’s non-toxic.
  2. Lay out a bunch of papers or even an old plain bedsheet.
  3. And let your child bring out their inner creativity!

6. Fun Fruit Tasting

The best way to introduce your child to yummy new fruits and tastes is via a sensory activity. This has multiple advantages including getting your child to indulge in some fruity nutrition. The smell of fruits can engage the olfactory senses while the taste makes cognitive connections between the taste buds and the nose.

How To Do It:

  1. Start by having your child just smell each fruit.
  2. If they are comfortable, try a blindfold.
  3. Then, introduce the fruit cuts and ask them to identify each one.
  4. Make snack time a delicious activity!

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7. Teaching Colours

Around the age of two, toddlers begin to grasp the names of some colours and begin to excitedly point out which names they know. A great way to encourage this colour learning is to incorporate hands-on sensory activities.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with a big lot of colourful objects like pom poms, buttons, blocks or whatever is available.
  2. Just pick out a whole bunch that’s enough to keep your child engaged.
  3. Create bins with labels or coloured stickers and ask your child to sort them accordingly.
  4. If you have more than one kid, let it be a fun race!

8. Puppet Show

Puppets have been a classic, long-adored toy for generations. And it’s time to bring puppets into the mix when you play with your little one. Puppet play is a fantastic activity to boost imagination and creativity, social and emotional skills and motor skills.

How To Do It:

  1. Grab a bunch of socks, glue on some eyes or stitch on some buttons, and go all out.
  2. Create your own story and put it on a show.
  3. Or let your child take the lead and entertain you.
  4. Remember, the goal is just to have fun!

9. Play Dough

Playdough was and still is a quintessential toy in most homes. The colours and textures and the fun new ways to create something unique make it appealing. But it’s vital to choose chemical-free, non-toxic, kid-friendly play dough. Like Dohdough, an all-natural play dough brand that uses plant extract colours by Deepti Bhandari. 

How To Do It:

  1. Buy some chemical-free, non-toxic, kid-friendly play dough.
  2. If that still gives you anxiety, make edible play dough at home.
  3. Just combine 1 cup of frosting of any colour or flavour you like with 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in a large bowl and mix well.
  4. Let your child enjoy it!

Know all about the brand Dohdough and the story behind Deepti’s passion for safe play dough for kids here.

10. Musical Feet

A tradition being followed in India for centuries, putting bells on your baby’s feet is no new activity. And while the old designs and pieces might be concerning, you can change them to suit your baby’s comfort. Hearing soft bells every time your child moves their feet can be extremely entertaining for babies.

How To Do It:

  1. Make your own bell anklets with the softest yarn or buy one from dedicated ventures that specialise in safe products.
  2. Put it on your baby’s feet and hear them giggle with laughter.

Nothing’s as soothing, fun and blissful as playing with your child. And if you get a chance to help your child develop some skills along the way, then isn’t it just sone pe suhaaga! Sensory activities are not just entertainment but introduce your baby to the five senses. So give these activities a try and list your favourite in the comments down below.

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