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25 Sensory Games and Activities to Enhance Your Infant and Toddler's Development

Updated: Feb 8


a toodler finger painting
Sensory games and activities

Children learn about their settings and the world around them through  sensory play from the moment they are born.

Sensory play can involve activities such as exploring different textures, playing with water or sand, or even engaging in imaginative play with various objects. These experiences not only provide entertainment and fun for children but also contribute to their cognitive, physical, and emotional development. By engaging in sensory play, children develop their problem-solving skills, creativity, and ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. 


They learn to differentiate between textures, colors, and shapes through sensory play. This knowledge helps them make connections and understand the world around them better. Additionally, sensory activities promote curiosity and exploration, encouraging children to engage in independent learning and develop a sense of wonder about their environment. 


In this blog article, I'll cover all seven senses by recommending some of our favorite Sensory Games and Activities to Enhance Your Infant and toddlers. I'll also go over the benefits of each exercise in terms of sensory growth and  development.



How many senses are there, exactly? 


There are commonly believed to be five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. However, some experts argue that there are actually seven senses, including body Awareness (the sense of body position and movement) and balancing(the sense of balance and spatial orientation). These additional senses play a crucial role in a child's overall sensory development. 


Some of us may have been taken aback when we learned that children  need to cultivate not just the five senses we were taught about in school,but all seven, for their own long-term health and happiness. For example:

  1. Sense of sight – the ability to perceive and interpret visual stimuli is essential for a child's learning and understanding of the world around them. It allows them to recognize faces, read, colors, shapes, letters, words, numbers, body language and other cues in the environment and navigate their environment with ease.

  2. Sense of smell – Recognizing and identifying different foods, plants or materials in the environment.

  3. Sense of Hearing– the sense of sound enables children to communicate, listen to music, and develop language skills. It also helps them detect potential dangers and be aware of their surroundings. Recognizing sounds in the environment, understanding what they mean and learning how to respond.

  4. Sense of touch: distinguishing between items that are safe to touch and those that are not, as well as recognizing various textures and learning to recognize objects by their shape and material, and figuring out which things are safe to touch and which ones are not.

  5. Sense of Taste– children rely on their sense of taste to explore different flavors, determine what is safe to eat, recognizing different tastes and the foods they belong to, identifying good and bad tastes.

  6. Balancing-They learn to adjust their body position and make quick reflexes to maintain equilibrium and avoid accidents. Additionally, children develop their sense of balance by practicing activities such as walking on uneven surfaces, riding a bike, or participating in sports that require coordination and stability. They also learn to adjust their body position and make quick reflexes to maintain equilibrium and avoid accidents. 

  7. Body Awareness–this can be achieved through activities that challenge proprioception, such as gymnastics, where children learn to understand their body's position and movements. Developing body awareness also helps children improve their coordination and spatial awareness, which are important for activities like dancing or playing team sports. 


With these seven senses in mind, let us explore different sensory activities that parents can use to encourage learning through sensory exploration and play.


Sensory Games and Activities to Enhance Your Infant and Toddler's: Ideal for 0-12 months+ 


Smiling Faces


Babies are naturally drawn to smiling faces, which aids in their sensory  development. Smiling faces give visual stimulation and aid in the  recognition of emotions and the development of social ties in babies. It  is criticalfor parents and caregivers to connect with their babies face to  face, smiling and making eye contact, since this fosters the proper  development of their visual senses.

Furthermore, filling the baby's environment with photos or toys with  happy faces helps improve their sensory experience. Bring out family  photo albums and show your infant child photographs of happy people. Make apoint of pointing to the faces in each picture so your toddler  notices thesmiles. If you have family photos on your walls at home, gaze at them with your child. Smiles signify a loving response that helps your child feel safe and secure in the world before they are old enough to  grasp words. Learning to notice smiles in their surroundings helps  children establish a sense of security and belonging while also  improving their visual skills.


Sensory Development: Sense of sight ✔️

 

Hanging Mobile


A hanging mobile is a great sensory activity for infants as it provides visual stimulation and encourages them to track the movement of the objects. It also helps in developing their visual tracking skills and hand-eye coordination. A hanging mobile provides a bit of color, motion and reflection in their environment that stimulates the eyes and mind. 

Tip: If you have mum friends with infants around the same age, you can swap hanging mobiles every few months. This exposes the baby to a variety of colors, shapes and patern, which can help with cognitive development.

Interacting with the hanging mobile together can also create a bonding experience for both the parent and the infants, developing a sense of security and trust.


Sensory Development: Seeing ✔️


Singing Songs 


Singing with your child offers a range of sensory development and cognitive benefits. Kids develop their listening skills by hearing you sing and trying to mimic. They also learn concepts like tone and rhythm and develop their language skills. Music and exercise together engage their auditory and visual senses, encouraging cognitive growth.


‼️ singing songs with actions can enhance their fine motor skills as they try to mimic the movements associated with the lyrics.Singing songs together with your child can help them develop listening skills from an early age.


Sensory Development: Listening , seeing& body Awareness.



Sensory Bottle


Sensory bottles are a great tool for infants to explore their sense of sight and body awareness. As they manipulate the bottle, they can observe the different materials inside and develop their visual tracking skills. Additionally, the sensory bottle provides an opportunity for infants to practice their hand-eye coordination as they grasp and shake the bottle.  


‼️Sensory bottles can provide diverse sensory experiences for kids based on what you choose to put inside. Marbles, sequins and glitter mixed with water provide a sparkly effect like a snow globe that’s visually stimulating. Kids play with the sensory bottle by holding, turning and shaking it. To make a sensory bottle, take an empty water bottle and fill it with materials of your choice, then use non-toxic glue to secure the cap and prevent spills.


Sensory Development: Seeing, Touching & Body awareness 



Mirror Games


Infants are in the process of developing self-awareness and learning more about their environments. Mirror games can help infants develop their visual skills. As they get older, play by asking them to point to their eyes, ears or nose, or practice making funny faces.

Mirror games are a great way to enhance your child's sensory development as they engage their visual and body awareness. By seeing their own face or body in the mirror, they can explore and interact with their reflection, helping them understand the concept of self-identity. 


‼️This activity also promotes cognitive development as they make connections between their actions and the movements they see in the mirror.


Sensory Development: Seeing, Body Awareness


Texture Board


A simple texture board with different materials can provide diverse sensory stimulation as infants develop their sense of touch. The texture board can be made by attaching materials such as fur, sandpaper, and bubble wrap to a board. As infants explore the different textures, they can enhance their tactile perception and develop a better understanding of different materials. This sensory experience can help them build important connections in their brain and improve their overall sensory development. 


Kids learn about their environments through the five senses– especially touch. New textures are exciting for infants who have never experienced them before. Experiment with different materials for your texture board, including cotton balls, tin foil, felt paper, string, beads, rocks, shells, leaves, buttons, sponges and wood.   


Sensory Development: Touching



Sponges and Water


A small tray with water and a few sponges make a fun sensory activity for your infant child.

Sensory activities for infants need to be fun, safe, and simple – especially at the age where kids learn by putting things in their mouth.


‼️Sponges and water tick all the boxes here – your baby can splash in the water, practice picking up and squeezing sponges, and have fun getting wet as they develop their body awareness, object exploration skills, and sense of touch.


Sensory Development: Touching, body Awareness



Ice Cubes in a Bowl


A handful of ice cubes in a baby-safe bowl with some water is a simple and fun activity with plenty of opportunities for sensory development and early learning.

Your infant can have fun splashing in the water, develop their fine motor skills by grasping slippery ice cubes, and feel the difference between warm and cool temperatures. 


‼️As kids get older, they can learn about phase changes (melting and freezing), floating and sinking objects, air bubbles in the water, and more. Kids love doing sensory activities with ice and water, and parents love the low cost, minimal clean-up requirements, and rich learning opportunities these materials can provide.


Sensory Development: Seeing, Touching


Musical Toys


As your baby learns to move their muscles, hear sounds, and feel touch, simple musical toys can spark an interest in music.

Listening to music helps kids develop their sense of hearing, but playing a toy instrument helps a child develop agency, release pent-up energy and build their creative skills.


‼️Learning to play with different instruments like a xylophone or baby guitar helps develop coordination and sense of touch.


Sensory Development: Touching, Listening

 

Messy Play- Playing with liquid paint 


This sensory game can be messy, but it allows children to explore different textures and sensations. It can also help with their creativity and imagination as they experiment with mixing colors and creating new designs. 


‼️You can also make your own eatable paint, in case they put it in their mouth, to ensure they don't eat nothing toxic.

 

Sensory Development: Touching, Seeing, Listening


Montessori busy books


Montessori busy books are a great tool for sensory development as they engage children in activities that involve touching, seeing, and listening. These interactive books often include different textures, colorful illustrations, and even sound effects to stimulate multiple senses. They provide a hands-on learning experience that encourages exploration and cognitive development. Additionally, busy books can help improve fine motor skills as children manipulate buttons, zippers, and other interactive elements. 

Sensory Development: Seeing, Touching & Listening 



Oobleck (with Cornstarch and Water)


To make Oobleck, a unique kind of fluid that becomes rock-solid when squeezed but runs like water when released, combine one cup of water with about two cups of cornstarch.

Oobleck is a lot of fun to make and play with. Kids can hold it and squeeze it until it hardens in their hands, then let go and watch it flow back 

into the container. They develop their sense of touch, fine motor abilities, and experience novel textures as a result. 


‼️Oobleck is also safe for kids to eat (though it doesn't taste pleasant and 

can upset their stomach if they eat too much).


Sensory Development: Touching, Tasting, Seeing


Messy Play(Playing with liquid paint)


This sensory game can be messy, but it allows children to explore different textures and sensations. It can also help with their creativity and imagination as they experiment with mixing colors and creating new designs. 


‼️You can also make your own eatable paint, in case they put it in their mouth, to ensure they don't eat nothing toxic.

 

Sensory Development: Touching, Seeing, Listening


For toddlers, we recommend these following sensory activities:


Finger Painting


Finger painting allows toddlers to explore different textures and colors as they use their fingers to create artwork. This sensory experience helps develop their sense of touch and enhances their fine motor skills. Additionally, as they engage in finger painting, toddlers can also learn new words and expand their language skills by describing the colors and shapes they are creating. 


They strengthen their eyesight by picking out different color  combinations. Making use of their sense of touch, they learn to blend  colors by hand. When painting, they rely on both sight and touch.  Listening to parents for guidance and criticism helps them refine their  hearing. They improve their precision, balance, and ability to think  creatively.


Sensory Development: Touching, Seeing, Listening


Writing with Salt Trays


Toddlers can enhance their visual-spatial abilities, language skills, and sense of touch by playing with a tray of salt and practicing drawing shapes and letters.


‼️This will help them prepare for when they learn to use a pencil and  rubber. They can either use a "magic wand" or trace with their finger to  bring in the salt. A quick shake of the tray redistributes the salt, allowing them to begin anew.


Sensory Development: Touching, Seeing, Language



✨Smell & Guess


In concealed containers, parents hide scented items for their children. Without peeking inside, toddlers are encouraged to sniff the inside of the container and make an educated guess about what it smells like.

Parents can encourage their child to describe the scents they encounter, fostering language development and sensory awareness. 


The practice enables infants to utilize their other senses, such as touch  and hearing, to make estimates, which helps them improve their sense  of smell and helps them develop their sense of smell sensitivity. When  toddlers are given the opportunity to engage their senses and explore  a variety of fragrances, it may be a pleasant and interactive activity for  them. 

Supply your toddler with a variety of instruments, such as cups or coops, and fill a container with a variety of materials, such as rice or sand, so toddlers can explore and manipulate different objects.


If it possible to make use of scented oils such as lavender, peppermint extract and vanilla extract, or even fresh ingredients such as cinnamon sticks, lemons, garlic, flower petals and vinegar.


Sensory Development: Smelling, touch and hearing.


Pretend you're on a tightrope


One of the simplest games that might assist children in developing a  feeling of balance is called "pretend tightrope." A rope or string is placed on the ground by the parents, and the toddlers play by walking in a  straight line down the string without stepping off for the duration of the game.


This game not only helps toddlers develop their sense of balance but also enhances their sensory development. As they walk along the string, they can experience different textures under their feet, such as grass or pavement, which stimulates their sense of touch. Additionally, parents can encourage their toddlers to focus on the sound of their footsteps as they walk along the tightrope, further enhancing their sensory development in terms of hearing. 

 

Sensory Development: Balance, Body Awareness


Sandbox Games


These activities allow children to explore different textures and sensations through touch, enhancing their sensory development. Additionally, sandbox games also encourage children to use their sight to observe the shapes and structures they create, promoting visual perception skills. 


Babies and toddlers learn to explore their world by exploring with a  variety of objects and techniques. Parents can stimulate their children's  play by building a sandcastle with them or hiding toys for their children  to  locate.


Sensory Development: Touching


Montessori Sensory Table


The sensory table allows children to engage in tactile exploration, enhancing their sensory development through the sense of touch. By filling the bins with materials such as rice, water beads, or textured fabrics, parents can encourage their children to feel different textures and develop their fine motor skills. Additionally, the sensory table provides a safe and controlled environment for messy play, allowing children to freely explore and experiment with various materials without restrictions. 


Sensory Development: Seeing, Touching, Tasting



Montessori Busy Board 


Another activity that promotes sensory development in children is a Montessori busy board. This interactive board is filled with various textures, shapes, and objects for children to explore through touch and sight.

As they manipulate the different elements on the board, they enhance their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Additionally, the busy board encourages problem-solving and cognitive development as children figure out how each component works. 

 


Sensory Development: Seeing & Touching.


✨Simon Say


The game involves following instructions given by the leader, Simon, such as "Simon says touch your nose" or "Simon says jump up and down." This helps children improve their ability to listen carefully and understand spatial concepts. Additionally, Simon Says promotes body coordination and self-control as children must only perform actions when preceded by the phrase "Simon says.

Children learn best through play while they are toddlers. Simon Says is a game that helps children improve their listening and body awareness  skills.They'll learn to pay close attention, follow instructions, and use their attention, focus, and short-term memory.

Sensory Development: Listening, Body Awareness


✨Rice or Pasta Bin with Scoop


Toddlers can have a lot of fun while developing their sense of touch by playing with bins of rice or pasta that come with shovels and scoops of varying sizes respectively. These sensory bins provide opportunities for children to explore different textures and develop their fine motor skills as they scoop, pour, and manipulate the rice or pasta. Additionally, incorporating various colors and shapes into the bin can enhance their visual perception and cognitive development.


‼️Toddlers develop motor skills and sense of touch through shoveling, scooping, and dumping objects. Parents can provide different sizes and edible pasta or rice for sensory fun.


Sensory Development: Touching, Tasting


✨Baking or cooking


Baking or cooking is another activity that can promote sensory development in children. The act of measuring ingredients, mixing them together, and feeling the different textures can stimulate their senses of touch, smell, and taste. Furthermore, following a recipe and understanding the steps involved in baking or cooking can enhance their cognitive skills and ability to follow instructions. 


✨Mystery bags 


Mystery bags are a fun and interactive way to promote sensory development in children. By placing various objects with different textures, shapes, and sizes into a bag, children can use their sense of touch to guess what each object is without looking. This activity not only enhances their tactile perception but also encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they try to identify the objects based on their texture alone. 


✨Hot and cold sensory bottles

 

Children can learn about temperature through touch by filling one bottle with warm water and another with cold water. They can compare the  sensations of the bottles and learn to distinguish between hot and cold  temperatures. This practice not only engages their tactile sensations but also aids in the development of their ability to detect and describe  various temperatures.


✨Freeze dance 


This activity mixes music and movement in a fun and participatory game.Children can freely dance to the music, but when it stops, they must  remain in their current position.This practice not only promotes physical activity and coordination, but it also helps youngsters improve their  listening abilities by challenging them to pay attention to music signals.  Furthermore, freeze dancing encourages creativity by allowing toddlers to  express themselves via their distinct dance routines.




✨Conclusion


Incorporating sensory activities into your child's daily routine can enhance their cognitive development and foster their creativity.

By providing them with opportunities to explore different textures, scents, and flavors, you are encouraging their curiosity and helping them make sense of the world around them.

Additionally, sensory experiences can also promote relaxation and reduce stress levels in children, making it a valuable addition to their overall well-being. 

We hope we have been helpful , wish you a nice bonding time with your little ones.😘✨-The busy, clever moms!

 



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