Sensory Play Ideas

sensory play ideas

Sensory play ideas

Sensory play allows babies and children to discover the world using their senses. Using these senses helps to develop connections in the brain, allowing them to process sensory information and respond to it and it helps with physical development as well.

There are loads of play ideas that are fun and engaging for your child, from specially designed baby sensory toys to everyday objects. And in many cases, you'll be stimulating more than one sense at a time.

Here are some of our favourite sensory play ideas.

Sensory play for sight

Sight is one of the senses that isn't fully developed at birth, yet there are still plenty of ways to visually stimulate your baby.

  • Give your baby plenty of things to look at. Have a mobile above their cot, lie them in different places in the house, let them lie outside under the trees and let them have plenty of close up time with you to discover your face and expressions.
  • Move a toy in front of their face and encourage them to follow it with their eyes.
  • Read simple board books to them with lots of contrast and bright colours.
  • Sensory bottles can be a fun homemade toy for visual stimulation.
  • Playing peekaboo

Sensory play for hearing

Babies can hear us even before they are born and will already recognise the sound of your voice. Although their hearing is fully developed the way the brain processes and responds to sounds is still developing until a child is much older.

  • Talk, read and sing to your child from birth as hearing you is how they learn.
  • If you see them notice a noise like a plane or the washing machine talk to them about it as this helps build connections.
  • Music is a great form of sensory play. Make music together and explore rhythm with simple instruments. A saucepan and a spoon or an old spice jar with a bit of rice inside are great fun.
  • Rainsticks are a great sensory toy for babies and toddlers. They create a lovely relaxing sound and little ones will quickly work out how to do it themselves.
  • Velcro also makes a great noise. Find clothes, shoes or nappies that use velcro, or make a velcro board and discover how many things can stick to it.

Sensory stimulation the sense of touch

Touch is a great sense to stimulate during play. And most play activities will involve touch in some way.

  • Touching your child, holding them, stroking them and massaging them is the first form of sensory play involving touch. Touching different parts of the body helps them discover that their legs, arms, hands and feet are connected to them.
  • Messy play comes in many forms and is great for exploring the sense of touch. Edible finger painting, squishing dough, playing with rice or cooked spaghetti are all great fun activities for little ones.
  • The bath is also a great place to stimulate the senses. Try adding an ice cube or two to the water to discover the feeling of hot and cold, or add bubbles or bath bombs that will stimulate sight and smell as well as touch.

Treasure baskets and sensory bottles are fantastic sensory play ideas and great ways to incorporate sensory play into your day. Find out more here.