What Will They Find Next? Sensory Play for Babies Builds Their Brains

Photo by Giorgio Magini / Stocksy / 1394539
Photo by Giorgio Magini / Stocksy

By Rachel Ward

Snuggling up with your soft, chubby little baby is one of the best feelings in the world—along with introducing them to all the world has to offer, from tasting a sour lemon (oh, that scrunched face!) and hearing a bird song for the first time to examining an intriguing new toy.

Sensory play for babies isn’t just fun, though: It’s how they begin to learn about the world around them.

“Since infants have limited mobility and experience, they first learn through their senses,” explains Linda Nelson from KinderCare’s Education team. “New tastes, smells, sounds, and textures provide a basis for learning about the world as infants grow.”

That’s why at KinderCare, we don’t just care for and love on babies (although we definitely do plenty of that)—we also use carefully designed activities to give them as many sensory experiences as possible and explore new items!

A Blend of Sensory and Grasping Activities for Infants Creates a Smorgasbord of Learning

Each month in our infant classrooms, we fill a basket with common items (in different textures) for babies to explore, from hats and toothbrushes to whisks and plastic mirrors—and don’t worry, parents, we make sure they’re closely supervised the whole time!

All that sensory exploration gives infants a leg up on figuring out the world around them—and literally builds their brains!

“Sensory play for babies builds neural connections in their brains, and by grasping, lifting, waving, chewing, and even throwing the items in the basket, babies are developing large-muscle skills and discovering how they can use their bodies as a tool to explore the world around them,” explains Nelson.

We’re give babies all kinds of ways to explore at KinderCare each and every day, and it’s really easy for you to keep that learning going at home! Take a look at our easy ideas below.

What’s THAT? 4 Ideas for Sensory and Motor Skill Activities for Your Baby

Photo by PeopleImages / iStock
Photo by PeopleImages / iStock

1. Add Some Touch-and-Feel Books to Your Collection

Those beautiful illustrations and sturdy cardboard pages are intriguing by themselves for infants, but when they also have some fun textures to explore (like a sticky dog tongue or soft sheep wool), story time moves to a whole new level. Check out some of our top picks!

2. Head Outside for a Real Adventure

Warm sunshine, dewy grass, soft flower petals, and mucky mud are like nothing your baby will experience indoors. So grab a picnic blanket and take to the great outdoors! Who knows, maybe your baby will hear a woodpecker or spot a worm for the first time (so make sure you grab your phone to record your experiences—your future self will be grateful for the memories).

3. Bring Scents from the Kitchen into Play

No need to just focus on textures: Smells by themselves are great for building your baby’s brain. Lemon, oregano, cinnamon, vanilla, cheese, tomato sauce, and even fresh produce are all great for introducing your baby to the big, wide world of foods and flavors.

4. Find (or Form) a Baby Play Group

By joining forces, you and your fellow parent heroes can all work together to help your babies explore new items and environments, whether it’s playing with textures like sandpaper and silk in the comfort of your home or joining a Mommy and Me intro swim class to introduce your babes to the wonders of water. Whatever you decide to do, it’s always more fun with friends—for you AND your child!

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