With the release of our NEW Natural Wooden Baby Gym, we thought we’d follow up with a guide on sensory play for babies. Interested in giving sensory play a go with your little one but don’t know where to start? Read on to learn more, and get some ideas to help them engage with their senses and the world around them.
Sensory play encompasses any activity that engages and stimulates your little one’s senses. Such activities encourage curiosity and exploration with the world around them, through touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing, as well as developing their sense of balance and movement.
Even before your baby is born, as they grow, their senses are developing. In utero, they can feel the movement of your body, and hear your voice when you talk or sing to them. Once born, they’re exposed to a dizzying array of sights, sounds, and smells. Sensory play is a way of introducing new sensations to your little one gradually, in a fun and gentle way.
The benefits of sensory stimulation for your baby include:
Caring for your baby's needs by engaging them in sensory play will help shape their development and growth in a positive way, and can be good fun for both children and parents.
So, what can sensory play look like? You’ll be pleased to know that the answer to this is varied, and can be a great opportunity for you to get creative with your little one! Let’s take a look at just a few.
Sandpits are a classic sensory play activity! Add in some toys for your little one to grab and find among the grains. Introduce a bucket and spade to help them scoop, scrape, dig and explore their surroundings.
Create a sensory bin or container for your little one. Not too dissimilar to a sandpit, this is a super accessible way to introduce your baby to different textures and sounds. Fill a tray or container with rice, pasta shells, lentils, beans or cereal.
Raid the pantry for some inspiration! All of these make satisfying swishy, crackly, crunchy or pattering noises when held or moved around. Again, try introducing spoons, measuring cups, or just plastic containers to enhance the experience for them as they play.
The soft prickle of grass, the hollow crunch of dry leaves and pine cones - the great outdoors is an endless source of sensory exploration. Take your little one out on walks in the local park or the woodland, if not your own garden will do.
Encourage them to touch the bark of trees, hold a buttercup to their little chin or let them hold it. Find smooth pebbles for them to handle, and let them put their hands to the earth. Mother nature provides a whole host of different textures, colours, scents and patterns to satisfy curious minds and wandering eyes.
Bathtime can be an ideal opportunity for sensory play. Use gentle, fragranced bubble baths to engage your baby’s olfactory senses, as well as touch and sight by letting them feel the gloopiness between their fingers. Use different coloured sponges to squeeze water and dab their skin while washing.
Skin to skin contact is another wonderful way to do this, as it can be great way to bond with your child. Introduce containers, toys, or a little watering can to trickle water over your baby’s head, arms, and back. Follow this up with a spot of relaxing baby massage, and it sounds like a fun, yet pampering evening all around!
Fancying making a splash outside of the tub? If your little one is a true water baby, then why not set up a paddling pool in the garden while the sun is out? Otherwise, any shallow container or tray will do!
Let your little one safely explore small objects by creating colourful, eye-catching sensory bottles. Keep a few empty water bottles to one side, and once you have enough, fill them each with water or clear shower gel. Add a few drops of paint or food colouring, and go crazy with the glitter, sequins, and beads. Once done, ensure the bottle’s tops are fastened tightly so there’s no risk of spillage.
Introduce them to your little one and watch their face light up! Give them a shake so they can hear the sound of the liquid inside, and see the explosion and whir of colour as everything shakes up. Sometimes, simple pleasures like this can work a treat when it comes to keeping your baby busy!
Is your little one getting distracted during tummy time? Try introducing a mirror, as this will almost certainly pique their curiosity.
By about 3 months your baby should be getting stronger, and giving them something new to look at will encourage them to lift their noggin up from the ground for longer. A mirror will give them something to look at when they do, as they discover the little munchkin staring curiously back at them!
When your baby begins craving more than just visual stimulation, you might find they start reaching for more toys and objects to satisfy their sensory needs.
Baby Gyms are the definition of sensory play. Providing fun for the eyes and ears to enjoy, as well as something for your little one to grab and feel. Our all-natural wooden baby gyms feature a range of different themed charm sets to catch the eye of any playful babe.
The charms are made using organic cotton, as well as Beech wood, and smooth, sturdy Mango wood finished with a natural beeswax. From hand-crocheted hearts and stars, to tug-worthy Bunny Ear toys and adorable animal-themed rattles - our Baby Play Gyms provide a variety of different textures for your baby to explore. Pair with our plush Quilted Playmats, or our luxuriously soft sheepskin rugs for extra comfort and sensory indulgence!