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7 Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers

Searching for sensory activities for babies and toddlers? Children use their senses to explore the world around them, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling and hearing to interact with their environment. Sensory play therefore has a pivotal role in development, improving areas such as cognition, language and fine motor skills. In the video above, you will discover hands-on crafty messy play ideas and sensory activities. After watching, check out 7 interesting sensory activities for toddlers and babies below. As always, ensure children are supervised for the following sensory activities.  

1. Rainbow Spaghetti Messy Play Activities

For little hands that love to reach out and grasp, why not make rainbow spaghetti? This colourful activity stimulates a variety of senses, including touch, sight and, for those that put everything into their mouths, taste!  

What you’ll need:  

  • 1 pack of spaghetti  
  • Food colouring  
  • Containers or ziplock bags sensory toys messy play activities baby sensory toys messy play ideas messy play sensory activities sensory activities for babies messy play ideas for babies sensory activities for toddlers messy play for toddlers early years resources baby stacking blocks soft b

How to make:   

  1. Cook the spaghetti, drain and leave to cool  
  2. Divide your spaghetti into groups for the number of colours you wish to make 
  3. Place each group of spaghetti into a food container or ziplock bag, adding a drop of water and food colouring  
  4. Ensure the container is completely sealed before shaking to combine the food colouring with spaghetti  
  5. Add all spaghetti to a bowl or tray for little ones to enjoy messy play 

2. Sensory Books for Babies and Toddlers

Sensory books are a wonderful way for babies and toddlers to explore their senses and learn early reading skills – from turning pages to following text left to right. Plus, spending time reading together is a lovely bonding experience for you and your child. Try Babys First Touchy-Feely Book and Baby’s Very First Black & White Little Library for high contrast, visually stimulating illustrations. Also, word books with sounds and soft books such as this extendable cloth book are ideal for young learners discovering the world around them. Read more about the best quiet books for toddlers here. Moreover, you have probably heard of the well-known ‘That’s Not My…’ series, with cute books such a That’s Not My Puppy. These books are brilliant for sensory play, featuring a variety of textures for little hands to grasp, squish and scratch. 

3. Free Baby Sensory Toys: DIY Baby Mobile

Fancy making your own baby sensory toys? High contrast images provide visual stimulation for babies and improve attention and concentration. In addition to the sensory baby books above, you can create a DIY baby mobile to hang above your child’s pram or cot by downloading this free printable. Simply download on any device, print and laminate. Follow the arrows to create a bold, high contrast spiral mobile that can be affixed using string or tape above your baby’s cot.  

4. Homemade Paint for Messy Play

Finger printing is a fantastic hands-on messy play activity that boosts creativity, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. For little ones who place everything in their mouths, you can whip up a batch of homemade paint. Though it might not be very tasty, it is free from toxic chemicals and safe to eat. Mix 2 cups of corn flour with 1 cup of cold water and combine with 4.5 cups of hot water to create a paste, then separate into jars and add drops of food colouring. You can also mix yoghurt and food colouring for tastier edible finger printing on a tray or plate, though keep in mind that you won’t be able to save these paintings.  

5. Early Years Resources: DIY Sensory Bottles

Customise your baby’s sensory play with DIY sensory bottles, the perfect sensory toys for discovering the world! Upcycle a used plastic bottle that has been cleaned and fill with objects for your baby to observe. For added safety, you can glue the lid shut after filling with items of your choosing and ensure it is fastened tightly before use. Try dried rainbow rice, colourful beads or tin foil to capture attention. For rainbow rice, mix dried rice with food colouring and a drop of vinegar. Alternatively, fill a bottle with water, oil, blue food colouring and toy sea creatures to create an ocean-themed sensory experience!  

6. Best Sensory Toys for Kids

Wondering about the best sensory toys for kids? For your baby’s first sensory play STEM toy, take a look at Baby Einstein Large Activity Cube; the captivating activities develop problem-solving and fine motor skills, in addition to scientific skills such as cause and effect. Equally, consider reflective sound balls, Magic Touch pianos and music stations, which are excellent sensory toys for visual and auditory stimulation, alongside coordinating hearing and movement. You can’t go wrong with building blocks, especially colourful baby stacking blocks filled with sensory water or soft baby blocks for those who are youngerKinetic sand can also offer a magical, mesmerising and relaxing experience for sensory play, whilst improving fine motor skills, imagination and creativity. Furthermore, senses such as balance and body awareness are often forgotten when it comes to sensory play, but popping balancing boards provide an excellent sensory experience for kids aged 3 and above. 

7. Messy Play Activities: Sensory Bins

Motivate creativity and exploration of the world using sensory bins. Grab an empty basket, bucket or tub and load it with a filler such as water, dyed rice or pasta. Next, add engaging toys and learning resources. The best ones include those that are ideal for scooping and sorting. You can use kitchen utensils or early years resources like these fine motor skill tool sets 

Overall, sensory activities for babies and toddlers are engaging experiences that can assist development. With a range of messy play ideas and sensory activities for babies and toddlersyou can find one that is unique to your child. You might also be able to find a baby sensory class in your local area that provides baby sensory toys and activities, as well as social interaction with other children. Check out BBC CBeebies Daydreams for more calming sensory activities for toddlers. Browse extra early years resources and messy play ideas aWordUnited.com