Help develop touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing with these sensory activities for babies.
Sensory development is key to helping your baby learn how to interact with their environment. These senses–like sight and touch–help your baby become more confident and comfortable in their surroundings. Help your child along with these 16 sensory activities for babies 0-1 years old.
Sensory activities for 0-3-month-olds
When your baby transitions from womb to world, they are quickly plopped into an environment filled with unfamiliar tastes, smells, and sights. Because everything is so new for your child, it’s easy for them to become overstimulated and overwhelmed. As you try these activities, keep an eye out for fussiness and try to introduce new activities gradually.
1. Hang a colorful mobile over the crib
This helps stimulate your baby’s sense of sight. Aside from having sensory benefits, mobiles can help foster physical development. Babies are eager to reach towards the shapes or items hanging from the mobile above them!
2. Tickle your baby
Touch your little one very gently to make them laugh. This will stimulate their sense of touch and, at the same time, will strengthen their recognition and relationship with their parents or caregivers.
3. Hold or shake an age-appropriate toy or rattle
This is a great way to foster touch, coordination, and the development of strength and mobility in the fingers and hands. At first your baby won’t be able to hold the toy, but little by little you will see how they try to grab it or follow it with their eyes.
Singing (on or off pitch!) can help develop your little one’s listening skills. If you aren’t comfortable singing, another way to stimulate listening skills is by playing pre-recorded music.
Another way of stimulating your baby’s sense of hearing is to integrate conversation into everyday moments. For example, when changing your child’s diaper, point and touch different parts of their body and say “beep.”
Sensory activities for 4 to 6-month-olds
This is a big period of exploration for your baby. They will most likely start trying to pick up nearby objects and looking around when entering new spaces.
5. Encourage your baby to touch different fabrics
Pick blankets or other items made of materials like wool, corduroy, or velvet. Since these fabrics have different textures, they are ideal for experimenting with touch.
6. Talk to your baby constantly
Talking to your little one with help strengthen their attention span and listening skills. You can tell them stories, talk about your day, or read a book. It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand you as long as they’re listening!
7. Get a change of scenery
This is a great time for your baby to start spending less time in their crib and more time on the floor because they have improved coordination and can support the weight of their head.
During tummy time, try playing on different surfaces in order to stimulate touch.
8. Play with balls
Teach your baby to drop, bounce, and roll balls to foster touch and coordination. They may not be able to grab them just yet, but observe how eager they are to reach out and touch them.
Sensory activities for 7 to 9-month-olds
Without a doubt, this is one of the more unforgettable stages, as babies begin to babble with more clarity and repeat syllables such as “baba” or “dada.”
Although your child’s linguistic development will be front-and-center, sensory activities are still essential for promoting healthy development.
9. Read together
Turning pages —one at a time— fosters hand and finger coordination, touch, and fine motor skills. Your baby might still be too young to turn the pages on their own, but let them try! Thick, cardboard books with softer, rounded edges work well.
10. Lift light objects
Your baby will begin to experiment with moderated levels of force as they continue to work on their sense of touch. Play with light objects such as building blocks or stuffed animals.
11. Point out objects around you
Point to objects that are near and far from your baby so they can look at them. This activity is great for the sense of sight, promotes the identification of objects, and fosters understanding and attention skills.
12. Get a new vantage point
Lying on their stomach or back, sitting or crawling — let your baby free at different times of the day so they can discover and observe their surroundings from different positions and perspectives. Just remember to never leave them unsupervised!
It’s important to note that for this particular stage the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers games and play to be key tools for sensory development. That’s why they recommend that 7 to 12-month-olds have a safe place to crawl and explore freely every day.
Sensory activities for 10-month-olds to 1-year-olds
At this age, your little one will probably take their first steps and have enhanced verbal communication skills.
13. Play hide and seek
Beyond being entertaining, playing hide and seek allows your little one to continue exploring. Try playing with other people or hiding toys!
14. Point out body parts in the mirror
When you are in front of the mirror, point to the parts of your baby’s body and name them out loud so they can identify their reflection and continue with this wonderful stage of self-discovery.
15. Crawling over or under objects
Make a small obstacle course using cushions, furniture, etc. so that your little one can crawl while going over or around the objects. This will help build your child’s coordination and spatial awareness.
16. Introduce new textures
As your child ages, they’ll still benefit from experimenting with different textures and toys. Try new clothing like a soft scarf, playing with sponges, or picking up leaves on a walk.
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