From the time that our babies are born, they are constantly taking in the world around them. Your newborn can look into your eyes and begin to look around the room, feel your heartbeat and the warmth of your skin during kangaroo care, hear your voice singing them to sleep, enjoy the taste of fresh milk, bring their little thumbs and fists to their mouths, and distinguish your scent from anyone else’s. Even though we may not recognize it at first, these are our baby’s first steps toward sensory development. With this in mind, it is important to remember that sensory play comes naturally for little ones, and all they need is your support and encouragement in order to reap the many benefits of sensory play!
When Is My Baby Ready For Sensory Play?
Truly, your baby is ready for sensory play at home right from the very beginning. As parents, we understand that caring for your new baby’s basic needs is time-consuming, but you can easily stimulate their senses with everyday activities. This can take place while you’re feeding, changing diapers, or even right before bed. For example, your newborn already recognizes your voice and smell, and they are instinctively be drawn to both. Your baby will love hearing you talk and having you close, which does wonders for the development of their brain.
How Do I Get Started?
Now that you know when to start sensory play, you need to know how to do it! The best way to introduce sensory play with your newborn is to provide stimulating opportunities in your day-to-day life! Don’t worry about creating a set time to play with your baby every day. While you’re changing your baby’s diaper, you can stimulate their sense of sight, feeling, and hearing by describing what you are doing and identifying their emotions. You can also describe what they may be feeling, such as the wetness and coldness (or warmth!) of the baby wipe, and talk about the different textures of the diaper and wipes.
It may sound silly, but these common interactions and little conversations truly aid in their language development and communication skills! Keep chatting with your little one throughout the day. You can talk about what you’re doing, whether it’s walking around the house, washing dishes, climbing the stairs, brushing your hair, or preparing dinner. If you notice your baby is especially interested in something, talk to them about it and emphasize their interest. They will be much more likely to learn from you if they are really excited.
Also, tummy time is a tremendous source of sensory stimulation play. During this activity, babies are able to explore through touch, as well as make connections between items and people they see and the sounds they make. Holding a toy in front of your baby while they are playing on their tummy is a helpful way to get their attention. Doing this will encourage your baby to lift their head and reach for the toy. Arranging toys in a circle around your baby also promotes reaching in many different directions.
Furthermore, incorporating lights and sounds during tummy time will stimulate your little one’s sensory development! Our Hug & Tug Musical Toys provide a great way to do this. This toy sings sweet lullabies and allows baby to expand its mid-section to promote pulling and playing. The Hug & Tug Musical Monkey, Frog, and Flamingo are all fun options for tummy time play! Also, our Hedgehog Sensory Mirror Pal includes a mirrored belly for peek-a-boo play, two rattle, and two sensory ball feet to aid in sensory development, and he can be easily linked to a car seat or stroller for on-the-go moms. There are also a variety of play mats and activity gyms that will stimulate their senses with a smart way to learn and play!
These are only a few play ideas and suggestions for beginning sensory play activities with your baby. In reality, there are hundreds of different sensory activities for babies that you can do together! No matter how you choose to engage your little one’s senses, sensory play in their early years is truly a precious time of learning, discovery, and growth. Be sure to make it fun!