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You want to make sure your baby is given all the opportunities to learn and develop to their best, right? But if you spend 30 seconds on Pinterest looking at baby sensory play ideas you may quickly realize that you should have started on this project long before you were pregnant.
It is overwhelming and HELLO, you have an infant to care for, who has time for that! Here you will find 8 ways to simulate your baby that won’t require days of prep. In fact, you are probably already doing all of these. You just need to capitalize on those activities.
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My baby is 8 months old and I was thinking of sensory activities that would stimulate him the other day. I quickly pushed all the elaborate thoughts away when I considered that:
- A. my sink was full of dishes and that needed to change quickly
- B. I needed to shower
- C. reminded myself that I am a good mom and deserve some grace (and don’t need some fancy sensory activity for an infant).
When I got to “C” it made me think about all the things that we are doing every day with our kids that our actually sensory activities. We just need to utilize the opportunity and focus on it.
BINGO! So now I don’t have to whip out the paint in a gallon ziplock bag and pray it doesn’t pop open anytime soon. I will just focus on the baby sensory play activities that we do in our daily routine and ensure that we are getting the most out of our day.
Stimulate Your Baby With Activities in Your Daily Routine
Just by being aware and focused, you can stimulate your baby throughout the day without fancy toys or over the top set ups. You will still catch me creating an activity for my little one to occupy his time on a lazy Sunday.I just wanted to remind myself that you can be in the moment and engaging with your baby without being elaborate.
Meals and snacks are a great time to engage with your baby. I particularly like meal time because typically I sit down for a meal at the same time which means that I can really focus on the time together. Here are some things to do during meal time to enhance the sensory experience and stimulate your baby:
- How does the food taste? Does it taste sweet? Salty? Savory? (even if they can’t answer, still ask the question. You can provide an answer afterwards)
- How does the food feel? Fruit is soft, Cheerios are crunchy and hard, pasta with sauce is kind of slimy. You get the idea!
- What colors do you see? Use this opportunity to not only discuss the colors of the food but also name the item that they are eating. Red Strawberry, brown toast, green beans, white egg.
- Here is a 10 second Prep Baby Sensory Play Activity that is edible and you can incorporate during meal time.
Of course books are a great way to get your child ahead in education. Is is consistently proven that children that are regularly read to perform better (I’m not going to find a study but ya’ll know..). Did you ever think of other sensory related engagement that you are providing when you read to your baby?
- Baby in lap – If you are holding your little one while you read, you are providing a warm touch. Providing comfort and a sense of protection is a great way to stimulate your baby.
- Touch & Feel Books – Some of our favorite books are the touch and feel board books. These are great ways to provide sensory engagement while reading to your child. Sandra Boynton is one of our favorite baby and kid book authors!
Spending time outside is so good for the soul. I really believe that babies can get “stir crazy” just like we do. The change of scenery always seems to cheer my baby up if he is having a rough day. So break out the stroller and start your outdoor sensory expedition to stimulate your baby.
- Take a Walk – Talk about the things that you see and tell your baby about them. Do you see the big tree with green leaves? Look at the duck swimming on the pond. Ducks make a noise like this, quack quack. The sun is really bright today. I’m glad I brought my sunglasses. Just talking to your kids using real words helps to improve their vocabulary.
- Outdoor “feels” – Wind, Cold, Heat are all things that your little ones can feel when outdoors. Of course you will use caution to not expose them to extreme temperatures. I love to take our jumper outside and let our baby get some fresh air. He feels the breeze on his face, watches the trees sway, leaves float by, hears the birds singing.
- Park Or Swingset – Once they can sit up, they can use the baby swing, both of my little ones have loved that. Depending on the type of “flooring” at the playground (assuming it isn’t something that could be a choking hazard), I will let a crawler move around the area.
Getting Ready for the Day/Baby Care
- Clothing – Your blue jeans are stiff. Your PJ’s are very soft. Let’s put some socks on your feet to keep them warm.
- Diaper Changes – I mean this one is kind of weird but it is an opportunity to engage the senses. You may even wish your nose couldn’t sense during this time! The wipes are cold (or if you are a good mom they might be warm.. haha I skipped on the warmer the second time around). The wipes package makes a crinkle sound. I usually say “Shoo Wee” when I take the diaper off and we both giggle. Talk about getting clean and ready to do your next activity.
Taking a bath could go under self care but it is such an awesome baby sensory play opportunity, I had to give it a little spotlight.
- All the Feels – Warm water, soft washcloth, hands massaging shampoo in hair. It is a tub full of sensory experiences to stimulate your baby!
- Splashing – Babies love splashing in the tub. Talk about the size of the splash. Did the splash make a sound? Did you get mommy all wet?
- Introduce Toys – squirt toys are fun to use and you can help if your little one doesn’t have the hang of it yet. I also like alphabet foam letters to spell out words, teach letter recognition (when they are older).
Playtime with Toys
Thankfully the toy manufacturers have come up with plenty of toys to help teach our kids and keep them engaged in something (so that we might have time to shower or make a meal in semi-peace). You don’t have to make your own playdough from organic figs or use a blade of grass to paint a replica of Eiffel Tower. Just playing with your kids is a great way to help to stimulate your baby and their little brains.
- Toys that Make Noise – Let me introduce you to Elmo in a Box. I have had this song in my head consistently for 4 years and counting. My son now absolutely adores it too, so it looks like I may end up with a decade of “Elmo’s got 5 crayons in a box” running through my head. It really is cute. I promise! Whatever toy you choose, those that make sounds are always a favorite.
- Age appropriate baby puzzles – You may end up completing the puzzles for a while but you are introducing the ability to think critically and solve puzzles. Shape Sorters and bead mazes are good starter toys.
My little one usually rides with me to take his sister to school. The car is yet another spot that we can interact together.
- Music – My 4 year old loves for us to sing in the car. Of course the baby can’t participate yet but hearing the music and instruments is just fine for now (I’m hoping he can drown out my voice and focus on the professional).
- Discussion – I have a lot of one way discussions with the baby during car trips. Something that I heard a lot when my daughter was young from others was that I “spoke to her like an adult.” That doesn’t mean I am not nurturing or even silly at times, but I do typically speak to her in an adult manner. The same goes for this new little one. I detail out our plans for the day or really whatever is on my mind. I really believe that just talking to your kids enhances their future performance.
- Windows Down – If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with nice weather, cracking the window in the car can be a nice sensory experience. The heat index has been >100 for the last week so we are currently enjoying the sensory activity of not melting by using the AC!
- Socialization – playing with other littles is great for kids of all ages. If you don’t have other kids or friends with kids of similar age, check to see what Mommy & Me activities your town offers. I have found great mommy and me activities at local libraries that are for kids as young as 6 months.
I hope this list helps to remind you of all the good things you are doing to stimulate your baby! Just remember to focus on the activity at hand and that baby sensory play doesn’t have to be fancy or formal.