I first learnt about sensory play when I worked part time as a nursery nurse in a Montessori school. The idea is actually simple but there is a lot of information out there, and so many ideas and suggestions, that it can sometimes be quite overwhelming to action.
I'm not an expert by any means, but the benefits of sensory play come from babies and toddlers (and even older children) learning and exploring through using and stimulating the five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing), and include:
- developing both fine and gross motor skills
- language development
- helping promote problem solving
- helping to enhance memory
I have personally found sensory activities to be a great way of bonding with your baby and more fun than the same old baby toys that can get a bit repetitive after a while.
When Lily was a baby we dedicated most Sunday afternoons to a sensory activity - oats, ice, rice, shredded paper, treasure baskets, play dough, shaving foam, bath foam... so many different things to try!
One of my favourite sensory activities is pasta play. It is so easy. I keep some plain, undyed, pasta in a tub all the time and often grab it when I'm out of ideas or haven't planned something else. It's quick, it's simple and it's easily adaptable.
I tend to use a simple tray and just pour in the pasta. I have different shapes - twists, shells and tubes and often need to replenish them as although I keep them separate from pasta used for cooking, it does tend to disappear after a while! I like to let Lily and Ollie take the lead in playing and only step in to stop Ollie attempting to eat the pasta shapes - it's fine as the pasta is non-toxic and part of sensory activities include tasting, but it can be a choking hazard and so you need to be wary.
I then like to add different items to the pasta to make it a bit more interesting - plastic baby toys or spoons etc. from the kitchen are my favourites as they are always to hand but in the past I have also dyed the pasta different colours and have used toys like Lily's Happyland figures.
And that's it. It's not complicated at all and doesn't need to be. Pasta is also pretty easy to clear up as well, unlike some messy activities!
You can find more sensory ideas on my Baby + Toddler Activities board on Pinterest. If you have tried any yourself then let me know by commenting below as I'm always on the lookout for more things to try.