Crafts & Activities: DIY Sensory Play for Babies and Toddlers

Engaging a baby or toddler in sensory play can be an enriching experience, helping them explore the world around them. Sensory activities stimulate the senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell—leading to better brain development. Here’s a guide to simple DIY sensory play activities that are both fun and educational.

1. Edible Paint

Safe and Fun: Mix yogurt with food coloring to create edible paints. Lay out a sheet of paper and let your little artist explore the colors with their fingers.

2. Oobleck Play

Solid or Liquid?: Mix 2 parts cornstarch with 1 part water. The result is a non-toxic, fascinating substance that’s solid when pressed but flows like a liquid.

3. Homemade Play Dough

Mold and Create: Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of water, and food coloring. This creates a pliable dough that’s great for molding and tactile exploration.

4. Sensory Bags

A World in a Bag: Fill zip-lock bags with hair gel, buttons, beads, or glitter. Seal it, ensuring there’s no leakage, and watch your baby press and explore the textures.

5. Texture Boards

Tactile Wonderland: Glue different materials (felt, sandpaper, cotton, etc.) on cardboard pieces. Allow your baby or toddler to feel the different textures.

6. Scented Jars

Aromas to Explore: Fill small jars with various scented items (e.g., lemon peels, cinnamon, fresh herbs). Let your little one sniff and explore different smells.

7. Rainbow Spaghetti

Vibrant and Engaging: Cook spaghetti and separate them into portions. Mix each portion with a bit of food coloring and a couple of drops of vegetable oil. Let them explore the slippery, colorful strands.

8. Water Play

Splash and Learn: Fill a shallow tray with water and add floating toys, ice cubes, or colored water. This allows them to explore temperature and buoyancy.

9. Sound Bottles

Hearing the World: Fill small bottles with varying items like rice, bells, beads, and pebbles. Each bottle will produce a distinct sound when shaken.

10. Nature Exploration Box

Natural Wonders: Collect various nature items like leaves, twigs, and smooth stones. Allow your child to explore these objects, feeling their unique textures and temperatures.

11. Fabric Scraps Box

World of Textiles: Gather scraps of various fabrics – silk, cotton, wool, and so on. This box will introduce your baby or toddler to the diverse world of textiles.

12. Light Play

Chasing Shadows: Use a flashlight to create shadows on the wall. Make shapes or use shadow puppets to tell stories. Babies will be fascinated by the movement and contrast.

Engaging in sensory play can not only be fun but also educational. These activities help babies and toddlers connect neural pathways as they explore and make sense of the world around them. Plus, many of these activities are easy to set up with items you probably already have at home. Dive in, explore, and enjoy these shared moments of discovery with your little one.