Updated: Apr 3
Whilst we are stuck at home, thinking of ways to entertain babies and toddlers is hard work, when we are the entertainme!
Here’s a collection of simple sensory play activities for babies and toddlers, for a fun exploration into the world around them! All are little to no effort or cost and encourage engaging play and exploration, both independently and in shared one to one sessions between baby and you. Enjoy!
Here are some ideas for safe tastes, hands on exploring and tactile investigating. As always, never leave your baby unattended when playing with any of these ideas.
Playing together will help babies with learning to share and communicate.
As they explore you can make this a special bonding time, perfect for older siblings to get involved too!
Remember, their attention spans are not long at this stage and that is fine. A few minutes of one of these ideas per day is plenty, and come back to revisit them often as repetition is what leads to familiarity and building on learning skills later.
Using a jelly pack, follow the instructions on how to make and leave to set in the fridge.
Pull it out and let baby / toddler explore ,feel and eat the jelly.
When the jelly is broken up scoop it all back in the bowl and pop in the freezer.
It can then become a whole new sensory experience.
Giving older children something to break the jelly up with , a spoon, play hammer or even a spray water bottle to help the jelly defrost .
Let babies and toddlers explore the textures and feel of the jelly.
There's lots of chance for language exploration as it turns squidgy and slushy. Babies are using all their senses to explore too.
Lots of fun ! ( Top tip - have the bath run ready for after this activity as it can get very messy!)
Using Ribbons, scarves, old material, tie to babies play mat and let them explore.
Can be used for smaller babies and toddlers too- you could sellotape the ribbon inside a cardboard box, make a little den to hide in- maybe even adding some fairy lights too, to brighten up these dark winter days.
Babies and toddlers will love to pull and tug at the ribbons wih both hands and feet, providing a wonderful sensory experience. Great for fine motor skill too. If you have any contrasting ribbons, this would be a great visual activity for younger babies too.
( Please never leave babies or toddlers unsupervised with the ribbons as they could get tangled or be a choking hazard if they become loose)
Babies and toddlers love water! One of the reasons is the familiarity of their womb environment, but also because of the calming effects it can have.
It's an incredible play substance. It can be held, thrown, sprayed, dripped, trickled, poured, swooshed, soaked, absorbed, sprinkled, coloured, scented, funnelled, spun, frozen, melted evaporated and, best of all, SPLASHED! It’s a great way for discovering about temperatures, capacity, gravity, water ways, dams, filling and emptying and more.
For a baby who is newly discovering their amazing world, this is the most incredible thing ever!
Either playing in the bath, with sponges, flannels, different containers to pour and play with and explore.
In the high chair with a shallow tub of water ( if you have a top and tail tray these are brilliant!)
In a bowl on the floor letting babies explore and splash!
Circle treasure basket
I love treasure baskets and this idea from the imagination tree is brilliant ( see my past post for the benefits of treasure baskets and other ideas.)
The basket consists entirely of circular objects in various different diameters, materials and textures. If you have older children they could help with the selection of objects, talking about their shape and properties.
You could use bracelets, bangles, metal and plastic food lids, cardboard tubes (not toilet rolls), round mirror blocks, pastry cutters and napkin rings. Because of the various sizes and materials.
Babies can try to place them inside each other, stack with them, roll them, overlap and bang them together. Let babies explore them with their hands and mouth- always supervised!
Great for babies and toddlers .Lots of different motor skills used: grabbing, dropping, rolling, stacking, overlapping, nesting, placing in and taking out, hand/eye co-ordination.
Single colour play space
You will need :
A single colour fabric or blanket, any materials with different textures would be great! This will provide babies with lots of opportunities to feel and touch a few different textures.
Pick 4 or 5 toys ( or household appropriate objects! ) of similar colours. You could look to outside, use items from the garden in a plastic bottle or zip loc bag for babies to explore.
Lie your toys out in your playspace in an arc and let your little ones engage with them. For tiny babies take the opportunity to show them the toy, let them feel and touch and do some toy rotation.
A great opportunity for tummy time, place the toys around them giving them lots of opportunities to feel and touch and build up their tummy time. You could lie babies
on a pillow or rolled up blanket for support .
Babies who are sitting up , try to avoid using a bumbo or container seat, as this will restrict their play. Place the toys around them in an arc and encourage them to reach and grab for them helping their balance, co-ordination and motor control.
For active babies, encourage rolling, stretching and crawling to the toys by moving them further away.
Let me know if you try any of these activities, tag me in any photos, i'd love to see.
Love Elisa x