Family Life, Pregnancy & Baby, Special Needs

5 Sensory Activities for Babies

As children grow, it’s our job as parents to expose them to different types of sensory stimulation so they can develop skills and cope when confronting strange new stimuli. How we do this is by making sure there are plenty of sensory-stimulating activities planned throughout
the day.

Kimberly Bradley, MS, LOTR, BCP, is Board Certified in Pediatrics and owns Kim4Kids, a pediatric occupational therapy practice. She explains the benefits of sensory activities and what activities you can try with your baby.

Benefits of Sensory Activities
We’ve all been there…our child has a plate of food in front of them, and all of a sudden, they’re wearing the mashed potatoes as messy lipstick, and the family dog is already on the prowl for the fallen pieces. Even though this can be a frustrating moment as a parent, Bradley says it’s important for babies to get dirty with their food because it exposes them to different textures and smells.

Don’t wipe off their face or hands because it will be one of the easiest ways for them to adapt to new textures and stimuli, Bradley says. Sensory activities are important for babies with and without processing disorders because it can help their overall brain development and ensure the baby hits their developmental milestones, she adds.

From developing fine motor skills, encouraging independent thinking, and enhancing memory to helping children understand how their actions affect their surroundings, sensory play is important (and fun!), states Action for Children.

When helping your child on their sensory-stimulating journey, exposing them to all five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound) is essential. By exposing your child to different sensory-stimulating activities, it can prevent them from being alarmed when they hear certain sounds or feel different textures.

For example, children who eat apple sauce out of a pouch might refuse to eat the same apple sauce off of a plate because it looks different, Bradley says.

In addition to the five basic senses, the vestibular and proprioceptive system is also vital for a baby’s development. Bradley explains the vestibular system is your sense of movement, and the proprioceptive system gives the information that your muscles and joints feel.

“This system [vestibular] helps us remain balanced, feel safe when moving, and coordinate both sides of the body,” states BabySparks. “The vestibular system begins to develop in the womb. Once a baby is born, it’s strengthened and stimulated through movement and changes in position.”

On the other hand, the proprioceptive system is important for children to understand how their actions affect their environment. For example, this system allows children to understand that when holding a puppy, they shouldn’t squeeze it too hard.

Sensory-Related Baby Activities
You don’t need fancy sensory-stimulating toys to further your child’s development. Everyday household items (containers, Kleenex boxes, silk scarves, and tags) can stimulate your child and allow them to be comfortable with their natural environment.

Movement: tummy time (laying the child on their stomach), kicking feet, rolling, swinging, and walking.
Touch: walking in the grass with bare feet, water play, petting animals, and letting your child get messy during meal time!
Vision: reaching out for toys, looking at books, and seeing themself in the mirror.
Hearing: playing and exploring with natural materials and learning what sounds they make (pots, keys, putting items in a Kleenex box).
Taste and Smell: breastfeeding, eating different textured foods, drinking a smoothie, and being in the kitchen while someone
is cooking.

Toys to Try

Infinno Inflatable Tummy Time Mat,

Itzy Ritzy – Bitzy Crinkle Sensory Toy with Teether,

Sumobaby Infant Baby Musical Stuffed Animal,

UNIH Baby Tissue Box,

Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Pull-Back Vehicle Set,

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