What is sensory play and why should you do it?
Sensory play for babies is basically any activity that allows your baby (or any toddler or kid) to safely explore using any combination of their senses.
These are the body’s sensory systems:
auditory system – the sense of hearing
olfactory system – the sense of smell
oral sensory system – the sense of taste
vestibular system – how we sense where our bodies are in space
proprioceptive system – our sense of the way our bodies move
tactile system – the sense of touch
visual system – the sense of sight
the interoceptive system – the general sense of our body’s physical condition, such as hunger, thirst, and internal discomfort.
What are the benefits of sensory play for babies?
By providing a variety of baby-friendly, open-ended activities through a variety of every-day materials, they have the opportunity to discover how their senses work through imagination-based play and new experiences.
Research has shown that sensory play for babies actually plays an important role in the development of babies’ brains and bodies, building nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which lead to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks. (source)
Sensory play supports their coordination, dexterity, and muscle strength. They increase fine motor skills when they have the opportunity to manipulate materials in a variety of ways. (source)
It enhances their vocabulary as they learn various sensory attributes such as hot, cold, slimy, wet.
What did we do?
This week I created a bubble wrap walkway for G with bubble wrap I found in the garage left over from when we moved. I just rolled the bubble wrap out down our hallway, used some masking tape to tape the edges down, and we were done. It’s been up for almost two weeks now and he loves crawling all over it. His body isn’t really heavy enough to pop them himself, but it still makes a fun crinkly noise when he grabs at it and crawls around. I will also walk or crawl on it in front of him while he chases me and he loves the popping sounds it makes.
Bubble Wrap Walkway:
Age: 6-18 months, whenever they are crawling and/or walking. We did when he was 7 months old
Which systems does it use:
auditory system (hearing) – the popping and crinkly sounds when moving the bubble warp
tactile system (touch) – the bumpy raised bubbles are fun to touch
visual system (sense of sight) – the green bubble wrap I used was a fun contrasting color against the wood floor, see variations below for more ideas to enhance this particular sensory system
What you need:
Bubble Wrap: you can use random scraps you have and piece them together but I found the big roll to be really nice and easy to use like >> this one <<
Additional ideas to add:
let your child run there cars over the bubbles, roll a ball on it, or stomp around with some of there favorite toys and try to pop them
Want to take this to the next level?
Get a piece of poster board and squirt some paint on top, tape the bubble wrap on top of that and make sure the sides are secure.
Your child will have fun popping and watching the colors move underneath their feet without actually getting messy. Just make sure there are no holes in it! There was a teny tiny hole in ours that I didn’t notice at first. Oops.
He enjoyed this for like 2 minutes and then was over it. I think this would be more fun for the older babies. Probably 12-24 months.
What fun things do you like to do with bubble wrap?