When it comes to thinking of ways to play with your baby you might find the ideas don’t come think and fast. Don’t panic, your baby is quite content with really simple things. They love to sit inside boxes or baskets, love to feel different textures and look at and explore things around them. Although sometimes it is nice to have something fun and easy to set up tucked up your sleeve for a rainy day. Below are seven sensory play ideas, they are all safe for babies however make sure you are supervising your baby at all times.
Giving your baby opportunities for them to explore things using more than one sense helps create strong connections in the brain. Your baby’s brain weighs approximately 400g at birth and by the time reach their first birthday it weighs around 1kg. Your baby learns such an incredible amount in just a few years. These sensory play ideas below will help feed your baby’s natural curiosity of the world around them. By playing with your baby and talking about what you are doing you will be strengthening your bond and also helping build their vocabulary as well as improving their fine motor skills (coordination of small muscles in your baby’s hands and fingers).
Edible Finger Paints
2/3 cups cornflour
4/5 cups hot water
Liquid food dye
Natural or Greek Yogurt
Liquid or gel food dye
Add the cornflour to a saucepan and add a little of your water and mix until smooth. It will feel hard to mix but don’t worry. Add a cup of water and mix. Place the pan on the hob and keep stirring and adding the water one cup at a time. The mixture will slowly thicken. Mine looked all lumpy and like it wasn’t working for a while and then all of a sudden it all came together into this silky, custardy mixture. Separate into bowls and add different coloured food dye to each bowl and mix until you achieve the brightness of colour you would like. I found this baby safe paint to be good for older babies and even toddlers. It is safe to eat but doesn’t taste nice at all, so if you think your baby might want to put it all in their mouth try the yogurt paint instead. Pop paint onto a mat and let your baby squish it around or place on a large piece of paper/card for them to paint with.
For younger babies I really like mixing food dye into natural or greek yogurt (greek yogurt makes slightly thicker paint).
You can now buy bubble machines for next to nothing online and in the shops, these are great. However good old fashioned bubble mixture, a bubble wand and your breath are equally as good. Gymboree sell their own bubble mixture which I really like as it always makes great bubbles that don’t always pop when they land so it gives little ones more of a chance to reach and pop them.
Stick some fun music on and have a bubble party. Show your baby how to reach and try and pop the bubbles.
Small empty plastic container with lid or water bottle
Adding liquid glycerol helps to slow down the movement of any small objects you add to the water.
Half fill the container with warm water and add the glitter or any small objects you wish (glitter, sequins and pom poms work well), you can also add food dye to colour the water at this time. Then add as much of the glycerol as you wish. The more you add the slower your objects will move around. Pop the lid on and shake the container to mix everything together. Remove the lid and dry around the lid, add superglue and replace the lid. This prevents your little one from managing to open the container. However an adult should be around when your baby is playing.
You can also add dry ingredients such as rice or lentils to your container instead of water and glycerol. Just fill half way so there is lots of space for the contents to move around and make noise.
Coloured Water Splash
Small tray with high sides or a baking dish or even a Tupperware box.
Babies love to play with water and this is so quick and easy to set up. You could let your baby play with this on a towel on the floor or when sat in their highchair. In the summer add some ice cubes to the water for your baby to discover.
All you need is some cooked spaghetti and place it in a tray or just on a mat in front of your baby and let them explore.
2 zip lock freezer bags
Pop different coloured paint inside one freezer bag and seal it up. Place it inside the second freezer bag and seal this one as well, make your you squeeze all the air out of each bag. Tape to the bottom of a glass door or a hard floor or even a highchair tray. Sit your baby in front and show them how to move the paint around the bag.
Before blowing up a balloon add a small amount of water or some rice/lentils. Then blow up balloon a small amount (not fully blown up) and tie a knot. The water adds a moving weight to the balloon which babies find fascinating and the rice/lentils make a great sound in the balloon when shaken.