Quick & Simple Baby Play Ideas and Activities! Some baby sensory play ideas:
Here’s a few things the Little Lovely and I did that were quite quick and straightforward to set up, and were high in the fun and entertainment stakes!
Activity 1: Simple bottle shaker
I washed and dried a used drink bottle, filled it with tapioca and dried lentils and fitted the lid back on tightly. You can’t tell well in the picture but the lid is quite big and so hopefully is not a swallowing risk. And so, that brings me on to mention a few safety issues: safety first: the lid is fitted on tightly so LL will not be able to get it off, chew on it, spill or eat the contents of the bottle, but please be careful and decide what, if any, fillings and bottles will be appropriate and safe for your child. Always supervise baby with any activities posted on this blog.
Here’s the Little Lovely enjoying his new toy. He enjoyed shaking and bashing it about, and was quite curious about it, as he usually is with new things!
This was a quick, simple and cheap way to provide him with something novel and stimulating.
age: LL was about 8.5 months when we did this but we have also used a bottle shaker when bit younger and i’m sure it will amuse him also in the future.
Activity 2: Sensory play with every day objects
Pick some interesting objects that you have to hand – ones with interesting and varying colours, textures, sounds – and then show them to baby.
At the time of doing this activity with LL he was not quite yet at the stage of putting EVERYTHING in his mouth, although might have tried a little, and so, again, remember safety first and only chose safe items that you are happy for your child to touch and potentially put in their mouth, throw around, etc. In these pictures we are exploring a brightly coloured corrugated piece of card which had some nice deep ridges and texture on it, and a shiny thingy – sorry, not sure what these shiny things are called.
Activity 3: Sensory fun “painting” – with safe & edible baby paint.
We did this at about 10.5-11 months but it could be done before and after this age. Read the full story here. The “paint” is yoghurt which is edible and safe (although, of course check ingredients and make a decision about whether the product is safe for your child). We used:
- Natural plain yoghurt as the “paint”. If you want to make colours I suppose you could add natural colouring by mixing in crushed up fruits (e.g. raspberries, blueberries), or food colouring if you don’t mind baby tasting it.
- A large piece of cardboard or something to protect the floor like a plastic sheet or old sheet. It also makes it easy to clean up because you can just wipe it off after.
- Paper to “paint” on. We used old packaging paper.
I swished a bit of yoghurt on the paper to show baby what he could do with it and then away he went. He tasted the yoghurt and enjoyed feeling the sensation of it on his hands and between his fingers. He got progressively messier over over the course of the activity! Then it was straight into the bath (hey, I said these were quick and easy to set up, but nothing about cleaning up afterwards!).
Activity 4: crawl through a tunnel – or place pre-crawlers in one for a sensory experience
Create a different sensory and visual experience for baby. We did this at a baby class, but you could make one at home using some material or cardboard boxes.
Activity 5: Mirror play
We used to have a mirror set up in LL’s play area, a bit Montessori-style. But he also enjoys looking in mirrors in books, and smaller mirrors. You can buy specific acrylic, baby safe ones but the ones in baby books are obvs baby safe.
Here’s a great list of baby mirror play activity ideas and information on the developmental issues that might be associated with mirror time games, from Simple Home Blessings blog. Try clapping your hands and seeing if baby can imitate you, pulling different faces and facial expressions (a good way to “mirror” and “reflect” (haha) your baby’s expressions, and this is relevant to attachment issues and emotional development), and playing peek-a-boo. Check out the “mirror time matters” page for these and more ideas to try out in the mirror.
Activity 6: Cardboard tube play
I love these! They are always to hand from the towel roll, or toilet roll if you like (erm, just make sure it wasn’t exposed to anything too dirty or smelly!). Sometimes LL just likes to hold one and wave it about, chew on it a bit (need to be careful he doesn’t eat it), or you could make something out of them like these interactive and sensory rolls on the let’s make stuff page.
More recently, i’ve been talking to LL through the tube by placing one end near his ear and saying something like “ba ba ba”, which he finds most amusing. Experiment with your voice and sounds.
Activity 7: Colour matching activity idea
This colour matching activity was really quick and easy to set up. This would work well with a toddler or older baby, but I used it at 10.5 months. I made sure to talk about the colours and demonstrated (modelled) sorting them.
I thought these would be important aspects if the baby is a bit too young to sort the colours themselves → Learning through observation (vicarious learning), and also the social and fun aspects of doing it this way are important.
Other things to gain from this activity: Motor skill development, sensory play (items have different textures and functions), exploration, learning about colours.
Materials: I used things that I already had about the house for this. They are sitting on two pieces of baby clothing (blue vest and green jumper), and a toys (child safe mirror turned face down).
Activity 8: Turn off the lights (and then put some other lights on!)
The pictures below were actually taken at a baby class (see my list of baby activity ideas here), where we turned off the main lights and then the babies lay down on the floor and were given some some light up toys, as displayed by LL holding the light up heart. There were also lights projected onto the ceiling and walls which LL was very interested in. It really held his attention and he was making a lot of happy noises.
Create this at home with:
- fairy lights
- a torch
- a mirror ball light
- any light up toys, lamps or equipment you have
age: LL did this from about 6 months and was probably 7 months-ish in the photos. But, he would probably have enjoyed lights a bit earlier and also will enjoyed them in the months to come, i’m sure, as he still likes it aged 9 months.
Activity 9: Tray play, or treasure basket
Put together a tray or basket of toys, objects, materials, and let baby explore. Read more about the theory behind Treasure Baskets and the what, why and how, here, and what some of the psychological theory and literature says about why Treasure Baskets might be useful things to use with babies. Here’s another example of some tray play – this is just about thinking about how to present toys to baby and mixing it up a bit.
Sensory baby play ideas (sound, touch, visual, textures)
Treasure baskets and heuristic play for babies