Sensory activities for babies are very important for early development and, at the same time, they can be a great source of entertainment.
In this article, we listed 16 sensory activities, indicating the age range –within the first year of life — in which they should be carried out. Take note!
Sensory activities for the first 3 months
In this stage, it is key to develop your baby’s senses in a gradual and friendly way. So avoid activities that are not appropriate for their age.
Also, this is a time when it is essential to promote reflexes, postures, and early coordination. Later on, these skills will help your baby explore the world independently, or they can even contribute to great physical advances, such as head control.
The characteristics of this period —which is also fundamental for the development of secure attachment, attention, and the first interactions— make the following ideas of sensory activities convenient:
1. Hang a colorful mobile over the crib
This helps stimulate the sense of sight. Additionally, your baby can begin to raise their arms and show physical progress when trying to touch the mobile.
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. Encourage your little one to hold or shake an age-appropriate toy or rattle
This is a great activity to foster touch, coordination, and the development of strength and mobility of fingers and hands. Maybe at first, your baby won’t be able to hold the toy, but little by little you will see how they stretch to grab it, follow it with their eyes, and even take it by the palmar reflex.
4. Sing subtly
If you sing, you will help develop your little one’s listening skills. Of course, another way to do it is by playing some melodies and baby songs on the devices you have at home.
Another idea for this beautiful recognition stage is that every time you change your little one’s diaper, you touch different parts of their body and say “beep”. This way, you will help them begin to follow your hand and anticipate the touch.
Sensory activities from the 4 to 6 months
This is an exploration period for your baby. They will most likely start to make intentional movements to pick up nearby objects and will look around them when they are in a new place.
5. Encourage your baby to touch fabrics
You can use wool, corduroy, or velvet, for example. Since these fabrics have different textures, they are ideal for exploring with the sense of touch.
6. Talk to your baby constantly
In this stage, listening to you will continue strengthening your little one’s attention span and contribute to their hearing sense. You can tell them stories, talk about your day, or even read them a children’s book.
7. Have fun in different positions
This is the ideal time for your baby to spend less time in their crib and more time on the floor, as they have greater coordination capacity and can support their head.
Also, spend magical moments with your little one playing in different positions on a comfortable mat, for example, during tummy time. This way, they can explore different elements, stimulating their touch.
8. Play with balls
Teach your baby to drop, bounce, and roll balls to foster their touch and coordination. They may not be able to grab them yet, but see how curious they are or if they try to take them.
Sensory activities from the 7 to 9 months
Without a doubt, this is an unforgettable stage, as babies begin to babble with more clarity, emitting repeated syllables such as “baba” or “dada”.
Although it is a period of great advances in which you will really be surprised, sensory activities for babies are still essential and necessary for their correct development. Practice the following:
9. Turn pages of cardboard books
Turning pages —one at a time— fosters hand and finger coordination, touch, and fine motor skills. Your baby might still be too young to do it correctly, but let them explore the books. Also, try to use thick books that don’t have sharp edges.
10. Lift different light objects
With this, your baby will begin to experiment with different and moderated levels of force, and they will continue to work on their sense of touch. Play with light objects such as building blocks or stuffed animals.
11. Look for near and relatively distant objects
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. Let your baby observe the environment from different positions
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 should be noted –for this particular stage– that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers that games and play are 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 from 10 months to 1 year old
At this age, your little one will probably take their first steps and will have developed their communication skills much more. When it comes to sensory stimulation for babies, the following activities will come in handy:
13. Play hide and seek
Playing hide and seek will amuse your little one a lot and will allow them to continue expanding their mobility capacity within the house. You can hide some objects or even hide yourself.
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 so they can identify their reflection and continue with this wonderful stage of self-discovery.
15. Crawling over or under objects
With this, your baby develops their perception of different elements at home and increases their ability to move. You can make a small obstacle course using cushions, furniture, etc. so that your little one can crawl while going over or around the objects.
16. Introduce new textures
Use different toys, clothing, sponges, and many other items.
Very well! Now you know 16 valuable sensory activities for babies that you can practice during the magical time of your child’s first year of life.
Regarding the sense of smell, it is important to be careful with strong odors to prevent negative reactions. You can try, occasionally, approaching your baby with low intensity scented lotions and oils, making sure that they do not cause sneezing or discomfort. On the other hand, food, bottles, and teethers will help your baby develop their sense of taste more and more, as well as to know different textures.
Did you find this article about sensory activities for babies interesting? If you want to receive more guidance on the first years of your little one’s life, go ahead and download the Kinedu app for free!