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5 Sensory Activities for Infants

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24 February, 2023

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As your baby starts adjusting to the world, he acquires new skills and develops more complex ones that will allow him to adapt better. However, his brain first needs to create sufficient neural connections to execute complicated responses. 

This is where sensory activities come in—they give your infant the proper stimulation for building plenty of brain connections.

Popular Sensory Activities for Your Infants

For infants (babies up to 12 months of age), a lot of sensory play or activities are recommended by childcare experts to help their development. These are just some examples of the most prevalent sensory activities you can let your infant engage in. 

Tummy time

Courtesy of Sanford Health News

Putting your baby’s tummy down on a mat or on his bed (when he’s awake) is a sensory activity and a physical exercise for your little one. When your baby is in this position, his skin, face, and hands are directly in contact with the surface of the bed/mat, providing him with plenty of tactile stimuli to process. At the same time, as he tries to lift his head off the bed to look for you, he’s getting plenty of necks, back, and shoulder workouts. 

Finger painting

Courtesy of Not Your Normal Mommy Blog

Finger painting is an excellent sensory activity that provides plenty of tactile and visual stimuli. It does get messy, but your little one will enjoy the feel of painting on his fingers and smudging this paint onto the paper. Keep a close eye on your little one, so he does not accidentally ingest the paint or rub it on his eyes. 

Colored and textured balls

Courtesy of Verywell Family

Presenting colored balls to your infant is also a great sensory activity, especially when he’s already starting to reach out for stuff. Aside from the visual stimulus the colored balls provide, the balls would also entice your baby to crawl or start gripping.  

Dough sculpting

Courtesy of Simple Fun for Kids

Kneading and sculpting dough provides your baby with plenty of tactile stimuli. It also allows him to exercise the muscles in those tiny fingers. If you’re willing to get some dough on your hands, too, you can even use this activity to teach your little one some basic shapes and their names.

Sensory bin

Courtesy of TheBump.com

With sensory bins, you can use plenty of materials for your activity – rice grains, various types of beans, flour, and even some seeds. You can also dye each material to add more visual stimuli on top of all the tactile stimuli that your baby will get. This is one of the best sensory activities you can provide for your baby, but it does require some effort and time to prepare.  

Significance of Stimulation to the Development of Infants

Through the stimulation of his senses, your baby starts to understand what the world around him is like. The soft bed, the cold air, and the relaxing lullaby of his warm mommy, for example, all point to the fact that it’s time to go back to sleep and that he is all safe. 

To your little one, each stimulus is a piece of the puzzle, and each sense organ is an essential source of those puzzle pieces. Letting your little one engage in sensory activities teaches your baby to use his senses, process these stimuli faster, and respond appropriately. 

Benefits of Sensory Activities for Infants

Regular stimulation through sensory activities helps infants:

  • Get used to how their senses (and sense organs) work.
  • Acclimatize to certain stimuli (increasing their tolerance for some stimuli while increasing their sensitivity to others).
  • Train muscles involved in the function of these sensory organs.
  • Develop their brain by promoting the formation of more neural connections. 
  • Build confidence in themselves.
  • Become more comfortable interacting with their environment.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sensory Activities

How do you stimulate an infant? 

You can stimulate an infant in any number of ways. You can tickle him, cuddle him, make faces at him, or give him some sensory toys to play with. They are sensitive to many stimuli, so stimulating them will not be a problem. 

When should I start my baby on sensory activities?

You can start your baby with sensory activities from the very beginning. Even with newborns (and their underdeveloped eyesight), you can depend on auditory activities or even hugs and kisses for auditory and tactile stimulation.  It’s just that babies, around four months of age and older, have more advanced sensory functions, so you will get greater responses from them when they get stimulated. 

What can other sensory activities be given to infants?

Apart from those listed above, you can also try the following sensory activities:

  • Singing and dancing with your baby
  • Making faces at your baby
  • Looking in the mirror
  • Sensory bottles (filled with marbles, seeds, sand, and other materials)
  • Playing with musical toys

What do I need to remember when implementing sensory activities for my baby?

  • Babies’ developments are not the same. Even though they may be of the same age, it is normal for one to have more developed eyesight than the other. So, do not expect the same results/reactions from babies for the same sensory activity.
  • Babies like putting stuff in their mouths. They can’t help it. Remember to keep a close eye on your little one, especially when doing sensory activities involving small pieces. Even if you’re using edible materials, your babies can still choke on these if you let them. 
  • Sensory activities are not meant to keep your baby occupied for hours. Infants will only engage with them for several minutes before moving on to another activity. They just lose interest after a while. It’s nothing personal.
  • Babies can get overstimulated and frustrated while playing. Watch for signs of overstimulation when they’re doing sensory activities. This will just lead to a major meltdown if not immediately addressed. 

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