Super Easy (and I mean Easy) Sensory Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers love sensory play

I love simplicity.

I find it very frustrating to look up recipes, crafts or activities that I don’t have supplies for or that require a lot time or planning.

Don’t get me wrong, I am seriously impressed with the creativity of some mothers…but its just not me, and that’s ok!

When the same old toys start to get boring for my daughter, I love finding simple ways to engage her senses and break up the day.

Sensory play is a term used to describe play and activities geared towards stimulating the five senses: Taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing.

Sensory play can encourages language development, motor skills, supports problem solving skills and can help build neural connections. It can also enhance memory function and calm an anxious child. Think about the calming properties of bubble wrap!

Although there are plenty of toys designed to promote sensory play, you can find some really great activities right in your kitchen. I promise, these are super simple ideas you can try…well RIGHT NOW!

Rice in a tub

Yep, I love this one! Use any type of rice…brown, white, whatever is in your pantry.

Make sure you prepare your area to prepare for the possibility of throwing the rice out….I made the mistake of setting up next to our entertainment center, which meant rice in hard to reach places!

Use a large sheet or better, yet, if its a nice day enjoy this activity outside.

You can also make this more fun by using a natural food coloring to color the rice.

baby play with rice

Herbs in Sensory Play

Another great idea is adding some herbs to the rice to create a aroma sensory experience.

I grow my own lavender both outside and in an aerogarden in our home. I love taking flower buds and adding them to the rice for a different sensory experience.

You can also try using rosemary, basil, mint or any other herb that you may typically use for cooking and has a strong, distinct odor. Just make sure that any herb you use is safe to eat. Although we aren’t encouraging our babies to taste the herbs, it is very natural for babies and toddlers to want to experience the world with their mouths. This is why its so great to use things we already use in the kitchen! It’s also a reason I don’t recommend using essential oils; they are simply way too concentrated and too hard to mix. You would not want a baby or child ingesting ANY amounts of essential oils.

Corn Starch and Water

Another really simple and fun activity. I found myself playing with the gooey material too!

There isn’t an exact science to finding the perfect proportions…instead, just add cornstarch to a bowl and slowly add water, mixing with your fingers.

You should be able to roll it into a ball with your fingers, and then have it “melt” away when letting go of it in your hand.

You will soon discover that the cornstarch goo acts very differently than almost any other solid in liquid.

If you would like to add food coloring, make sure you add it to the water before adding it to the cornstarch.

Make sure you don’t toss the mixture down the drain, but instead throw away in your trash. No clogged sinks!

You can order organic cornstarch from amazon…I prefer to use it when possible just in case we decide to eat it. And by we, I mean Cora!

Banana Play Dough

I always say I’m going to make banana bread when I have over ripe bananas sitting on the table, but I usually just end up tossing them….

That was before I discovered this awesome recipe from a book I got on Amazon called 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids

Personally I had to adjust the recipe quite a bit to get the right consistency….at first it was way too sticky!

I first mixed together 3 ripe bananas, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of water. I mashed and mixed until the banana pieces were no longer distinguishable.

Then in a separate bowl I mixed 1 cup of cornstarch and 3 1/2 cups of flour.

Then I slowly added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mixed with my fingers until a nice dough was made. If it is still too sticky, add some more flour. If it ends up being too dry, add some water, a little at a time.

I added food coloring after the dough was made to make a fun swirly pattern! This the skin safe food coloring I used for all my sensory activities.

This dough was a hit, not only did it smell great, but Cora had a blast playing with it. You can toss the dough in a ziploc bag or other airtight container and keep for a couple days to play again.

How to get Started…

Hopefully one of these easy ideas is something you can implement this weekend with your child.

There are so many cool ideas on pinterest and other blogs….I didn’t even scratch the surface of the many things you can do with different textures, colors, smells, etc!

Like I said though, I love simplicity, and these ideas were an amazing way to get started.

Plus, not to spoil the fun, but your child doesn’t know if the activity you are doing took 3 minutes or 30 minutes, $2 or $20…

Your child is just enjoying spending time with you and learning about the world around him…..soak it in!

But, to avoid that after mess stress, try to remember to lay down an old sheet or towel, wear clothes that are easy to change, and don’t do sensory activities right after bath time!

Enjoy!

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