What is sensory play for babies?
What is sensory play for babies and how can we encourage it?
Sensory play for babies can take many forms but is essentially any activity that stimulates the senses. You can invest in some beautiful baby sensory toys to encourage sensory development and you can use everyday objects and even your own face and voice to play with your baby.
Encouraging babies to explore the world around them using their senses is an important part of their development. Allowing them to investigate, create and explore builds pathways in the brain that sets them up for being able to achieve more complex tasks later. It also helps with language development, social skills, memory, and developing sensory thresholds.
When babies are tiny you might find you don’t have a lot of specified playtime. Looking after their needs can be time-consuming enough. But stimulating the senses in playful ways can be easily incorporated into daily activities as well as dedicated playtime.
Sensory play could be giving them things to look at while they are lying in a cot or pram, giving them fun things to touch (there are lots of great newborn soft toys that have different textures and make crinkly noises when you touch them), or letting them explore a wipe or clean nappy while you are changing them.
Simple ways to encourage play
Depending on the age of your baby there are lots of things you can do to encourage sensory play.
A few minutes of tummy time on a play mat or lying on your chest is great for developing physically as well as using the senses. If they are on your chest make funny faces at them or sing a rhyme. If they are on a playmat add things with texture for them to explore, a mirror for them to see themselves or place an interesting toy just out of reach.
Tune in to your baby and notice when they are interested in something. Talking to them throughout the day and telling them about things that seem to attract their attention is a great way to encourage sensory play. And allow them to explore things whether its the feeling of an ice cube from your drink or the noise the table makes when they bang it.
Although babies can become quickly overwhelmed by too much stimulation you can still set up simple play activities for them to explore even if it's just for a few minutes. And they don’t need to be elaborate. Water and ice cubes, rice to pour or spaghetti to squish all make great activities for little ones.
Simple sensory toys like a rattle, a rain stick, a mobile or sensory blocks are great for little ones. And we love the comforters and soft toys that incorporate multiple colours and textures as they are great for babies to explore. Plus, we have lots more sensory play ideas here.