Babies don't have words to express their experiences, but their 5 senses are busy at work learning about what is around them. As they grow, children’s senses are their most familiar and most basic way to explore and process new information. Sensory play enhances learning through hands-on activities that stimulate the child’s senses. Some kids are extra sensitive to different tastes, textures and smells. Exploring with them from an early age will help with any sensory aversions and issues as they get older.
Here are 5 reasons why sensory play is beneficial:
Sensory play isn't just about touch. Sure, sand and water tables are fun, but what about the other 4 senses? Label the world around your baby, using words and questions related to their expereince through their senses. Here are some examples;
Touch: “Are you having a bath? Do you feel the wet water?”
Sight: “Do you see bird?” “Where do you see a bird? I see it In the tree?”
Smell: “Did you smell your cream? Does it smell like a flower?”
Taste: “I think you like the lime. Is it sour?”
Sound: “Do you hear the plane? What sound does it make? Woooooosh.”
Our Baby Basics monthly program includes several opportunities for sensory play, whether it's a footprint craft or even sensory bins for baby! Here are momstown's favourite sensory activities to play with your baby;
1. Create a sensory bin using safe items that babies can explore with their senses. Keep in mind that babies love to explore with "taste", so items must be big enought to be safe and also okay for baby to put in their mouths! We love these themed bins: spring sensory bin, Halloween pumpkin play, Easter bin, Christmas bin and even summer bin!
Get creative at home! Try Spaghetti and Pasta Sensory Play– so much fun for babies! Using colour for sight, babies love to put pasta all over their bodies and in their mouths! How about Shredded Paper and Cereal sensory play or simple water play? Put Cheerios or Rice Krispies in a bin, on your baby's highchair tray or even fill the bathtub or pool and place baby right in the middle! Add in some balls, toy cars or cookie cutters and let baby try to find them!
2. Water play is so much fun when you add in some toys that make noise or cups to fill and dump! We love this farm animal water bin for toddlers and even preschoolers! Take advantage of bath time to introduce some sensory learning and language "I'm pouring the water. Can you feel it on your head? Can you feel it on your legs"? As kids get older, pull a safe chair or stool to the kitchen sink and let them "wash dishes". Add in some food colouring to make the water different colours.
3. Start crafting at a young age! Create your go-to craft bins with fun sensory items that baby and toddlers can glue on paper after they explore. Kids love to use feathers, buttons, cotton balls, pasta and even shaving cream or cloud dough! Be sure to give them the words associated with that texture.
4. Make homemade bubbles and sing some songs! Using hands and mouths to blow bubbles and fingers to pop them are great sensory ideas! "Do the bubbles smell? Do they taste funny? Can you hear them "POP"?"
5. Go exploring! Make some fun binoculars from toilet rolls and take your toddler outside to see, hear and smell nature! Find some flowers, touch the tree bark and listen for crunching leaves to help your toddler learn those sensory words!