Developing Sensory Pathways Newborn babies learning

Sensory development and play with Newborns

Boosting Sensory Pathways for Learning

Newborns are stimulated by everything in their environment: by the sounds, by the interactions, by your smile and nurturing tone in your voice. So explain in simple language what it is you’re doing, smiling with them, telling them all about their environment, making noises around them so they can respond to noises.

Everything that you do, as you are moving about the house, as you are doing your housework, involve and include your child in it. Move your baby into the room in which you are working. -Tell them what you are doing: you are washing the dishes, you’re dipping the dishes in the water. Tell them exactly what you are doing and what they are hearing. All of that will stimulate them and help them relax from familiarty in your language and words and the sights and sounds of their everyday environments.

Newborns are like sponges and what they absorb in the first few months can shape their interests and abilities for their future. So don't walk on eggshells, help them get used to the the sights and sounds of your regular everyday life...maybe introduce them to things you like to do throughout your day or on weekends. 

I am going out on a limb here. I believe that if genetics carry a tendancy toward sensory irregularity or even Autism, then we can at the least prevent the severity and possibly eliminate a lifetime of sensory and emotional dysregulation. My daughter was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorders-NOS at 3 years old. There were a bunch odd gaps in her develpment that I was uncomfortable with. Some  of which I noticed in her first 5-30 days and I kept a journal of concerns. Her body was often stiff instead of squishy which could show a almost constant state of alertness and the fact that we couldn't rock her or put her in a swing without her vomiting. She had the most modern interventions, including Tomatis and The Listening Program. I wholeheartedly belive that Tomotis and The Listening Program changed the quality of life that she was able to have. 
I want you to know that my daughter became pregnant last year. We both believe that we can catch and intervene early and at least prevent the severity of sensory irregularities. Her partner also has Aspergers  disorder. So the remainder of this page could effectively change the rest of your childs life.

This contains an image of: Baby Playtime, Songs, Games, Fingerplays and Activities for Baby

You can also stimulate them by directly playing with them, by making little toys in the home, putting stones in a bottle and shaking it, by waving ribbons in front of their eyes, different coloured ribbons.
There are many things that you can do with just things around your house.

Newborns and Their Senses

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health

Infants and young children vary greatly in their sensitivity to feelings of comfort and discomfort, familiarity and strangeness, and the emotional context in which sensory experiences occur. This article will help parents and caregivers become more aware of individual differences among babies’ preferences for sensory experience.

Healthy babies come into this world beautifully equipped to get acquainted with it and to discover how to use it to meet their needs. They have been hearing sounds within their mothers’ bodies and also sounds that penetrate the womb from the outside world.

Babies recognize frequently heard sounds—including their mothers’ voice and their parents’ favorite music—and prefer them after birth, as they may later prefer familiar sights, smells, tastes, and textures. Babies come into the world prepared to enjoy what is novel as well as what is familiar. They pay more focused and intense attention to new stimuli, especially those coming from the human world. A complex drawing receives more concentrated attention than a simple color; infants give their most intense attention to a drawing—or even a schematic approximation—of a human face.

The baby uses its senses both to get acquainted with the environment and to achieve comfort, and every baby goes about this differently. Once I visited a hospital and put three babies in succession back in their cribs after a feeding. One baby relaxed, sucking his thumb. Another kicked at a balloon hanging on the foot of his crib. A third focused on pictures on the wall.

Infants and young children vary greatly in their interest in different sensory areas, in the intensity of their attention to sensory stimuli, and in their sensitivity to feelings of comfort and discomfort, familiarity and strangeness, and the emotional context in which sensory experiences occur.

With this article I hope to help parents and caregivers become more aware of individual differences among babies’ preferences for sensory experience.

Newborn and Beginning Sensory Activities Below are in Red Type- 
Insights For Parents are in Gray

Eager to Touch, See, and Be a Part of the World

Here are one mother’s memories of the sensory responses of her baby: Carl’s responsiveness was apparent at birth, when he started kicking during an interview between the doctor and me. He had had a natural birth with no anesthesia, and he was very alert, looking all around, looking at himself in a mirror. He reacted to TV changes. At two months, when I brought him a little sheepskin blanket, he wiggled and moved around as if to increase the feelings it gave him. At three months, he imitated my hand-waving.

Some little children are very much interested in the natural world. My seven-month-old grandson would stretch out his hands and arms to catch a sunbeam as he sat on the grass under a tree. His older sister, at nearly two, would happily run with arms stretched out to catch a breeze! Another little child was fascinated with the moons she thought she saw from inside her house. “Two moons!” she insisted, as her grandfather held her first at one window, then moved to the next window. She could not accept his correction – that it was the same moon she saw through the two windows. In other words, perception of a sensory stimulus in the first two years is not clearly distinguished from the context in which it is seen.

Some infants and toddlers find their greatest satisfaction in sensory experience of the human world.
At four months, Ellen kicked and laughed in excitement as her adoring grandmother approached her. Jennifer, at the same age, showed bouncing delight when she heard her father’s footsteps. As adults, both women continue to show affection intensely and vigorously.

Even very young children have definite preferences for play materials. Al’s nursery school teacher told his parents to give him playthings suitable for his age, such as blocks. Al already had blocks, but ignored them; he did not care for them at all. He liked colors, in crayons and paints. Kevin, however, loved blocks from his earliest years and later remembered with delight all the things he could do with them—make roads, bridges, houses, whole towns. Blocks were the beginning of his interest in wood, in learning to create tables and other things out of wood, an interest that persisted into adulthood. (Al never developed an interest in making things. He became absorbed in music, then books.)

Attention, Focus and Persistence

The quality of a child’s attention is important because it can give us some insight into what a particular experience means to him. Little Stevie’s way of looking was intense, as if he were trying to fathom the meaning of the object he was observing. This intensity continued as his scientific interest developed, until, as an adult, he was working on microscopic studies of DNA. While some children’s intense interests are related to talents, others have different roots. Louise loved trees. As a baby, she lay in her carriage watching sunbeams shining through their branches. This pleasure continued into adulthood, as she watched the shifting sunlight in trees around her country house.

Babies differ in the number of their intense interests. Al was absorbed in music; Molly was intensely interested both in music and in colors; Midge loved music and colors and rhythmic movement. All of these children were gifted in these areas.

Not surprisingly, parents and grandparents are sometimes especially alert to the special quality of a baby’s attention. The mother of a two-day-old baby was holding her as the baby gazed intently at her mother. The grandmother said, “She doesn’t look at me like that – I think she recognizes you.” A two-month-old baby stared intently at his hands, twisting and turning them as his parents and their pediatrician talked. His mother commented, “He has just discovered his hands.”

Often, the excitement of a sensory experience arises from a baby’s ability to control it. In the early months, mobiles suspended in the crib are interesting because they move or make a sound when the baby touches them. As soon as a baby can sit up in a tiny bathtub, floating toys that move in response to the infant’s splashing are a source of delight. The eight-month-old in a high chair soon discovers the fun of grasping a spoon and dropping it over the edge of the tray, retrieving it by a string or having it restored by the caregiver (of course, at this age, games of disappearance and reappearance are fascinating.)

Familiarity and Strangeness

Sensitivity to strangeness can be either a response to something that is actually strange—that is, completely different from what the child is accustomed to—or it can be simply a response to a new experience. For some children, nothing feels strange; for others, every new experience, every new person, is strange.

Adults may easily underestimate young children’s ability to discriminate between the familiar and the strange. At eight months, our baby boy loved a Czecho-Slovak dance record and wanted to hear it over and over. At three years, he asked his grandmother to play a “Beethoven record.” But when she put on the Fifth Symphony, he whimpered, “I wanted the Sixth Symphony!”

The same stimuli can be experienced differently by different babies. Sudden noises—an automobile honk, a doorbell, a slamming door—are a source of curiosity for one baby, a cause for alarm for another. Some babies sleep comfortably anywhere; others are restless unless they are in their own familiar crib. A six-week-old baby boy refused to nurse after his mother had been jogging. The exercise had produced lactic acid, which is secreted into the milk and affects its taste. When this mother gave the baby previously pumped milk, he accepted it.

Some babies seem instantly at home in the world. A three-month-old who visited me in my home for the first time laughed joyously, as if I were a beloved old friend. In contrast, Nina was a sensitive little thing. Sitting in the curl of her mother’s right arm, she looked wide-eyed at the incomprehensible world, which never seemed to become more comprehensible. Her wary expression never relaxed.

How Adults Influence Babies’ Sensory Experiences

As an active baby reaches to touch objects in the environment, he encounters things that give him pleasure or pain. He learns what is “out there,” and he also discovers what he likes and dislikes. Babies experience feelings of pleasure and pain in different areas, and at different levels of intensity. Steve was very sensitive to textures as a tiny boy—any woolen pants had to be lined to protect against the feeling of the wool. At the same time, he loved soft surfaces, such as that on a fuzzy teddy bear.

Some babies are not very active—they don’t reach, grab, or play—but they do spend a lot of time watching everything that goes on and listening to all the sounds they can hear. When a baby stares or watches quietly, he is taking in a great deal. We may say, “He doesn’t miss a thing.” Some preschool children spend a great deal of time in any new situation surveying all of the possibilities. When they go into action, they are selective, using observations they have stored up. The quiet child who takes in everything may reflect what has been going on in his mind in his creative productions; these may be more original or more complex than those of the active children.

The baby’s parents and other caregivers restrain or encourage her in her active exploration or quiet observation of the world. When the infant finds books to pull out of the bottom shelf of the bookcase, a concerned grownup may replace the book with a “No! No!” and a shake of his head. But when the child pulls out pans from the low cupboard in the kitchen, she is greeted with approving smiles. The baby is reproved when she puts certain things into her mouth to explore by licking or biting. Yet her smearing baby kisses on mother’s hand are greeted with her kisses and smiles. In these and other ways, the baby’s world is shaped—she learns to use her senses selectively, in ways approved by her culture.

Sensory Experience and Development

The senses constantly guide, stimulate, and reward the actions of the baby. Senses and motor skills cooperate. Neither can function without the other. Looking depends on movement of the eyes from birth, and soon, the head and body, as the baby turns or stretches to see new objects, or to hear a new sound.

As babies watch and listen to what goes on around them, they soon go beyond a reflex reaction to participating with greater awareness and planning in what they see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. They discriminate between shapes and sounds and learn what to expect and what to reach for. They formulate whole images by synthesizing sensory information. In time, toward the end of their first year or early in the second year, they connect these images with words, so they can begin to ask for what they want. But the process of connecting words and images is much slower than the development of the images themselves. The baby recognizes mother long before he becomes able to call her.

Sensory experiences tell us who we are and where we are. The accumulation of images seen and heard, tasted, touched and smelled build a complex image of his surroundings in a little child’s mind. Even a very young child invests a new sensory experience with personal meaning. “Granny!” was the enthusiastic greeting of a three-year-old I had never met before when, in my sixties, I visited her family. The child saw that I was an old lady, a “granny.”

What the child has enjoyed most in the earliest years of life may be deeply cherished and held in long memory. Some adults re-create their earliest sensory experiences in music, painting, and literature. Some continue or elaborate their early sensory experiences in their occupations, domestic arts, and religious observance. Some guide new generations of babies and young children as they explore the comforts, delights, and wonders of the world.

Portions of this article was edited from the original Zero to Three Journal. 

By: Lois Barclay Murphy, Ph.D., with Rachel Moon, M.D., Washington, D.C. Edited from the Zero to Three Journal

10 Easy Activities to Play with a Newborn
(0-3 months)

Play with your 0-3 month old baby—is that even possible? Absolutely! Today I’m sharing some easy and fun activities to play with your newborn so you can get started right away!

Be sure to also check out the next steps: milestones & Activities for your 3-6 month old!

As a parent to a newborn that might seem like a task for much further down the road. But actually, babies are born ready to play (or ready to have you teach them how!).

One of the things I loved learning about the most while undergoing my Master’s in Recreational Theropy was the developmental process from birth through the acquisition of motor skills in the early childhood years.

Studying the various reflexes and small patterns in motor development revealed some really neat things about how infants naturally progress through stages, and how parents can help babies facilitate both motor development and social development through play.

While you do not have to entertain your baby as soon as they come home from the hospital, there are plenty of newborn activities you can do when you are ready!

Related: 15 Benefits of Baby Wearing

How to play with a baby 0-3 months: Learning through everyday activities

Most the first month especially, babies are taking in so much about the new world around them through regular touch and through being close to you.

The things that most parents naturally do, such as talking in a sing-song voice or making faces at babies, are actually helping them build connections and make associations, as well as preparing them for their first “conversations”—the adorable goo-goos that make a mama’s heart melt!

Skin to skin, baby wearing and simply holding a baby against your chest all provide benefits of tummy time early on too. Therefore, “having to play” isn’t something that has to be on your to-do list the first month.

Focus instead on recovery and adjusting to life with a newborn!

Related5 Things Every New Mom Can Relate To

Somewhere down the road after the first few weeks, however, once they start having more awake time, a thought is likely to start creeping into your head of “How am I supposed to entertain and play with my baby” (and how do I give my arms a break from carrying her?).

Baby playtime is a great way to do both!

So today I’m sharing a few easy ways to play with a newborn to 3-month-old baby.

How to play with a newborn baby: Easy activities for 0-3 months

When figuring out ways to play with a baby, aim for a combination of independent play and social play.

This means encouraging baby to both explore and makes sense of the world around them through their discovery (with some help from you sometimes of course) as well as playful interactions with the family.

The best things to have for playing with a newborn:

While you can definitely play on any surface, a soft foam play mat is ideal for tummy time and play/exploration.

I try to mix up how we play each day, to keep us both from losing interest—though not sure that is possible for babies as they are easily entertained!

Here are some of the best—and my favorite—activities for playing with babies 3 months and under.

10 Sensory Activities to Play with your Newborn

 1. Supported Tummy Time: Tummy time looks different depending on where on the developmental timeline a baby is—this post on tummy time positions for different stages is great for learning how to do it correctly. Regular tummy time (without support) is important too, but this helps mix it up a bit!

Placing a boppy or tummy time pillow, rolled blanket or other types of support under a baby’s chest helps prop them up and facilitates play for babies unable to fully support themselves on their arms (which would be most 0-3-month-olds!).

2. Hey Macarena!: Gently moving their body parts, such as extending arms and legs, massage, and playing like they are a marionette puppet are excellent ways to help stretch and create awareness.

Plus it is just super fun to make a baby dance, so there’s that!

3. Follow the Sound: Playing music or creating sounds works wonders for encouraging head turning and strengthening neck muscles.

Whether the music or sounds come from you, a musical toy or rattle, or something else, try placing the sound at different locations around your baby and watch them search to identify what and where the sound is coming from.

Related: The One Thing Parents Can Do to Encourage Development in Babies

4. High Contrast/ Visual Books: Books are great for tummy time or for sitting and reading together. While any book will help improve communication and bonding, visual books designed for babies to help strengthen their visual and cognitive development.

These books often contain bold contrasting patterns and objects, typically in black, white, and redHere are some great ones to check out.

5. Mirror: A mirror is perfect for exploration and discovery. Whether you mount a mirror at ground level on a wall (for side-lying viewing), prop up a soft-sided toy mirror (we have this one) during tummy time, or spend time chatting in front of the bathroom mirror, babies can’t get enough of staring at their own reflection.

6. Hanging patterns: After the second “leap” in a newborn’s development (typically around 8 weeks after the due date), babies are able to distinguish patterns around them, and are endlessly amused by them.

Try hanging or even just holding patterned cards or high contrast toys in baby’s field of vision.

Related: Best Gifts for Babies 0-1 year

7. Kicking objects: Help your baby discover and develop the sense of touch by setting up various things for a little “kick practice”.

Try using tissue paper like in this tutorial from Mama OTas well as placing hard objects near the feet for them to push off of (a wall, a cookie sheet, or your hands work great).

I like having the mat there as it helps hold the cookie sheet up too.

8. The Imitation Game: For an easy way to play anytime (and one you are likely already doing) lay your baby down with your legs extended or on a soft mat, and make facial expressions while chatting with your baby.

Imitate their conversational noises and facial expressions, and watch as they seem to mimic yours (especially fun in the 2-3 month stage!).

9. Texture Touch: Stimulating the senses is a great way to help encourage development while introducing baby to new things. Use common objects found around the house and lightly touch baby’s hands, feet and skin with them.

Items such as dried beans or sand can also be placed in a bowl or shallow pan for hands and feet during tummy time or while laying on their backs.

Must try ActivityJello Sensory Play for Babies & Toddlers

10.Water Play: Fill a shallow pan/cookie sheet with water for a little wet exploration!

Baby can be positioned with their feet on the pan for some kicking fun, or try guiding their hands to the water for some splashing fun. Always supervise infants during any type of play, but be especially cautious around water.

Add visual interest by floating a toy and watch as they kick and splash like a little fish!

These are just a few of the easy ways to play with babies in the first few months. By focusing on providing tummy time and ways to explore and interact with the world around them, you will help your baby find excitement in all of the new things they can discover.

Playing even this early is a precursor for other baby milestones and essential for development. And it is fun! For other fun ways to play with babies, check out this post on incorporating Montessori for babies at home.

Benefits of a foam baby mat-

Considering a baby foam mat for playtime? There are a lot out there to decide between. I actually never found one I liked when Charlie was a baby, so I used blankets even though I hated how dirty they got and how they provided very little support and almost no grip.

A foam mat is an excellent alternative to blankets and hard floors. While it is not the only solution, it is extremely popular with parents.

If you go the mat route, be sure to find one that is non-toxic and free of BPA, phthalates, latex, lead, and formamide, and is perfect for babies as they do tummy time, learn to crawl and walk. It makes a great play floor for a nursery or playroom as well.

Importance of Sensory Stimulation for Babies

Dr. Liji Thomas, MD

Children require sensory stimulation of an appropriate nature and duration, at the right time. Failing to provide children with adequate sensory stimulation puts them at a high risk of developmental and cognitive delays. This is known to have been recorded in young babies who grew up in orphanages, as well as in preterm babies.

Image Credit: Romrodphoto / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Romrodphoto / Shutterstock

One such sensory pathway is touch, which facilitates normal growth and development. From worms and rats to human beings, the offspring of each species show positive responses to supplemental touch.

Research is still ongoing into the best ways to stimulate touch and other sensations to promote growth normalization and an increase the level of response to multisensory stimuli, especially in children who were deprived of such stimulation in early life.

Multisensory integration is now recognized as being extremely important in the development of children. It seems to be acquired, matures with growth, and peaks in late childhood but with many variations depending on the level of prior experience.

Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often have impaired integration of multiple sensory modalities and must therefore be trained to perceive and to interpret them correctly.

Lack of tactile stimulation

Experiments on rat pups reared in isolation, under maternal care, and those reared in isolation but modified by brief sessions of stroking showed that deprivation of tactile stimulation, which took the form of licking by the mother rat, caused aberrations of behavior in the deprived pups even after they became adults.

Moreover, when these pups became mothers themselves, they failed to show fully maternal behavior towards their own pups. This has been seen in preterm babies kept in incubators for the first few weeks, as they are often deprived of touch but exposed to sounds and lights without always being able to correlate them with the source.

This can set the children back in responding to social as well as environmental cues as they grow up. On the other hand, “kangaroo care,” in which a baby is carried against the caregiver’s chest skin-to-skin in a carrier, wearing a diaper only, for at least an hour every day for a total duration of at least two weeks, has been shown to produce consistently improved scores in both mental and physical assessment, which persist for months afterward.

father holding a premature baby with an oxygen mask in Kangaroo method. Image Credit: Kristina Bessolova / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Kristina Bessolova / Shutterstock

Brain development and sensory stimulation

Mechanosensory stimulation is therefore very important in the development of a baby. In fact, it is difficult to reverse the negative effects in an individual who was deprived of such sensory stimulation in early life.

Research has shown that the newborn’s brain develops 2-3 million synapses each second. These synapses forge the route for sensory messages to reach the brain. The more synapses that are used, the more quickly these become permanent.

If not used, the synapses may die out and lead to a phenomenon known as pruning. Pruning ultimately prevents information overload by cutting out non-functional pathways.

Taken together, sensory stimulation is vital to develop sensory pathways in the brain and thus promote normal development. This stimulation also helps the child learn about the world, as well as communicate and form attachments to other people.

Normal maternal stimulation

In most cases, daily interactions between a mother and her infant cause stimulation of key senses, mostly touch, but also stimulation of the joints, hearing, vision, and balance.

According to research-based evidence, the daily activity found to be most stimulating is feeding, while playing with the baby, carrying, bathing, and changing the diaper/clothing are other sources of mechanosensory stimulation.

Image Credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

Sucking on a pacifier or other object is also beneficial in terms of promoting growth and maturation in preterm babies. It is seen that such sucking activity influences gastrointestinal endocrine secretions via the vagus nerve and may thus increase insulin release, stimulate gastrointestinal motility, and functional maturation. The mother also benefits from this by activation of the gut endocrine system and improved energy intake.

When compared on a minute-by-minute basis, research indicates that the most exciting activity is playing with the baby. However, individual differences exist between mothers and infants, which affect the amount of stimulation that occurs with each activity. Thus, individual counseling should be given to ensure that each infant is optimally stimulated at home when planning a remedial program.

Order of sensory maturation

Another finding is that all sensory systems do not mature simultaneously, but rather in a specific order which does not vary.

"This order includes >tactile >vestibular>chemical>auditory>visual. The baby thus has five senses working at very different levels at the time of birth.

The fetus has already developed much experience of tactile and vestibular system sensations by the time of delivery, including feeling when the mother is walking, laughing, talking, exercising, bathing and so on. These different feelings are often accompanied by auditory cues and physiological differences such as an increased heartbeat, uterine contractions, and stroking feelings when toweling down."

The auditory system develops much later, however. Therefore, knowing how the baby receives various sensory modalities has much to do with how activities are planned.

Tips on sensory stimulation in babies

Some ways to promote stimulation of multiple senses in babies include:

  • Introducing a variety of textured objects

  • Playing in water at the appropriate temperature

  • Holding the baby up to face level, or lying down where the baby can see the caregiver’s face

  • Spending time outside the house in quiet listening

  • Sucking on clean objects

  • Playing music appropriate for the child

  • Watching moving objects such as fan blades, leaves, branches or shadows on a wall

  • Bouncing balls where the baby can see them bounce and come back up again

  • Rattles and other colorful and movable toys or objects (should be light and without sharp edges)

  • Foods of different tastes and textures

  • Coloring, painting, stamping, and other art activities for toddlers

  • Smelling various safe substances such as foods, flowers (if not allergic to pollen), and grass

  • Looking through various transparent colored objects

The infant should be supervised during each of these activities. Furthermore, all objects should be clean and should not be capable of choking or suffocating the child.

Sensory Activities

Sensory exploration is so vital for babies. They learn about the world around them through their senses (feeling, hearing, seeing, touching…) When a baby is born, their senses are not fully developed. They develop overt time as they learn to engage with the world around them. They learn by feeling, tasting, touching, smelling, seeing and moving their body. But they need workouts and play time with you to get their body and sensory systems coordinated and ready for fun. 

Then it’s up to you to introduce interesting objects, music and fun people to draw them into play and having fun in our world…which is full of explorations and discoveries that are all new to them.

It’s no wonder they become overstimulated at times. I have a great photograph for you. This is Hope and I in our mother daughter photograph shoot. This is the last photograph and she is so over it. She doesn’t even need words to communicate, does she?

You just need to learn your baby’s unique cues in their behavior and in their face to prevent them from getting overwhelmed.  So get those sensory and movement activities prompts ready to develop their sensory pathways. Read to your baby because your voice is familiar and calming because they heard it in the womb. And stimulate and move their extremities for them to develop their future coordination and balance.
This is All to prepare them for being able to respond to our love and affection and to start playfully interacting with the people and objects in their environment.

For newborns and very young infants, sensory play activities are very simple, such as touching the fabric of their clothing or listening to a parent sing. Babies will seek and enjoy the sensory experience of being held and gently rocked.

Mouthing toys is a sensory activity for babies. Babies love to put things in their mouths because while they do not have great control of their hands and fingers to explore, they can use all the nerves in their mouths.

What are they Learn through Sensory Play?

When a baby or toddler experiences something new, this builds a new pathway in their brain which allows them to learn and grow. They are learning about their own body with their own senses and they are starting to learn more about the world around them as well. Over time and lots of repetition, they can start to learn where their body is in space, how different textures feel, and what different smells mean. The more sensory experiences they can be exposed to, the more they can learn from those experiences.

Why Do Babies Need Sensory Experiences?

Sensory play is an essential part of development for babies. You can read more about the benefits of sensory play for babies here.

Young children need to experience the world through the senses to develop their motor skills, sensory processing, and cognition skills. For babies, sensory activities are an introduction to emergent science skills.

At What Age Should You Start Sensory Play?

Most parents and caretakers can easily help your child learn about the scientific process or science concepts. For babies, almost all experiences and explorations are sensory based. That’s because, at this stage of play development, they constantly learn about their bodies and environment through the senses.

The natural curiosity of babies combined with bits of useful information from a trusted adult creates an ideal environment for science learning. Experts at Head Start and parents demonstrate there are many simple ways you can encourage your baby to question, explore and discover the world.

  • Describe what your baby is seeing and doing as she explores.

  • Ask questions about everyday objects and actions.

  • Allow for unstructured exploration.

  • Read books related to planned activities.

  • Introduce different environments and a wide variety of objects.

Sensory Toys For Babies

Attention Span Considerations

Keep in mind, infants have a very short attention span and plan activities accordingly. suggest by eight months old, a baby's attention span is only two to three minutes. By the age of one, this attention span may increase to a maximum of 15 minutes. It is important to be aware of this whether you are working with your own child or if you are preparing science activities for babies and toddlers in a childcare setting.

Adapt for Age

Another key point to consider is most scientific experiments and activities can be adapted to work for children of all ages. Scientist Steve Spangler has a great website with loads of experiments that can be used to create science lesson plans for infants and toddlers, as well as for older children. It also showcases science-related products.Learning the ways to play with your 0-3 month old baby isn’t one of the first things they teach you when they hand you your newborn, am I right?

The first month with your new baby is an exciting time, it’s a time to form a strong bond but also great to introduce playtime. Yes even with your new born baby you can have fun. Here are our favorite things to do with a newborn baby that both of you will enjoy. Check out these fun activities below.

mom kissing the head of a newborn baby laying on a bed

Stimulating these senses doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated.  Just by feeding your newborn, holding her close, carrying her, bathing her, talking to her and settling her ready for sleep you will be giving her plenty of stimulation.  And if you want to do a little more then hopefully you now have plenty more ideas to try.

Games to play

Week 1-

  • Tummy to Play: Always remember: back to sleep, tummy to play. Baby may not like being on their tummy at first because back and neck muscles are not very strong yet. Make Tummy Time part of baby’s daily routine starting with a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. Helps baby develop core strength.

  • Face-to-Face: Lie down propped up by a pillow and place baby tummy down on your chest so you’re face-to-face. Hold firmly so baby does not roll off. Helps baby strengthen core muscles and achieve developmental milestones.

  • Get to Know Baby: Take time to get to know baby in every way. Smile at them. Touch hands, feet and forehead. See how they wiggle and react to touch and voices. Helps you connect with your baby.

See Videos

Week 2

Games to Play

  • Revolving Mobile: Every couple of weeks add or change the toys hanging from an overhead mobile or play mat to grab baby's attention. Wiggling the toys can also help baby look at the new toys. When baby is able to sit up, take down the mobile due to safety risks. Helps baby develop vision by providing interesting objects and colors to look at.

  • Sleeping Direction: Change the direction baby lies while sleeping. Place their head on the right side of the crib, then switch to the left side the next night. Repeat. Don't forget to always place baby on back to sleep. Helps baby build strength by turning different directions to see you.

  • Mobile Songs: If your baby’s mobile plays music, sing along with the songs. Hold their hand or rock them while you sing. Play similar music for him at other times of the day, all around the house. Helps baby improve listening skills.

  • Tummy Min: After diapering, lay baby on their tummy for a few minutes so Tummy Time becomes a part of their daily routine. Helps baby learn to lift up their head. 

See Videos

Week 3

Games to Play

  • Beep Baby: Tap baby in different places and say the name of each body part. Then say “beep” or make another sound after each new body part you touch. They may start watching your hands and anticipating each touch. Helps baby develop their sense of touch and body awareness.

  • Raise to Sit: Place baby on their back facing you. Put your hands behind their shoulders and head for support and slowly raise them to a sitting position. Keep repeating this movement. Once baby can support their head, you can practice while holding their hands. Helps baby build strength.

  • Mirror on the Wall: Put up a child-safe activity mirror on baby’s crib where they can see it. Say a rhyme: “Mirror mirror on the wall, Who’s the coolest baby of all?” Tap the mirror so they will glance at it and eventually they will learn that it's them in the mirror! Helps baby develop vision. 

  • Gentle Strokes: Before feeding, gently stroke baby’s lips with nipple or bottle to encourage mouth to open for feeding. Be sure to present the nipple/bottle in the middle of mouth. Helps baby latch on for feeding.

See More Videos

Week 4

Games to Play

  • Head Lifts: Baby should be starting to lift head a little bit when doing Tummy Time. Get baby to move by dangling a toy to look up at. Helps baby improve neck and head control.

  • Keep a Diary: Track things like baby’s motor milestones, how often they eat, and how many ounces are eaten per day. This helps you track baby’s growth and lets doctors check baby’s day-to-day activities and patterns. If you are concerned about baby’s development, be sure to share the diary with your healthcare provider.

  • Rattle Up & Down: Move and groove with a rattle – up and down. While they won't be able to shake it on their own yet, their reflexes will allow them to grasp the handle and enjoy the sounds as you help shake it. Helps baby continue to develop hearing. 

  • Massage Feeding: Give baby a little massage on their arms, legs, and back before showing them the nipple or bottle. Helps increase baby’s alertness to help with feeding. 

See Videos

Week 5

Games to Play

  • Get on Down: When baby is on tummy, get down on their level. Encourage eye contact. Place a mirror in front of baby, so they see themselves in a new way. Helps baby develop motor skills, prevents flat spots on head.

  • Smiling Faces: Babies love faces. Go through pictures of family and friends or a magazine. Point out the smiling faces for baby. You can also draw a basic smiley face on a paper plate and hang it in baby's room. Helps baby develop ability to focus.

  • Diaper Time Chat: When changing baby's diaper, talk about what you are doing. "We have a clean diaper for you." "Mommy is going to lift up your legs now." Helps set the foundation for baby's language skills. 

  • Soft Touch: While baby is alert, awake, and calm place a soft, cushy toy with a face within their arm length. The face will interest them, and the way it feels will develop their sense of touch. Move the toy up and down, left and right in front of them. Helps baby track objects and develop visual focus.

See Videos

Week 6

Games to Play

  • Mirrors All Around: Take baby around the house. Share your reflection in each mirror. Point to your eyes, ask if they see them, then ask if they see their eyes, and point them out, “Here are your eyes!” Helps encourage baby to identify themselves and helps with emotional development.

  • Lap Baby: Soothe baby on your lap. Place baby across your knees while you are in the sitting position and rub their back while they do a little Tummy Time. Helps you steady baby and keep them calm during Tummy Time.

  • Sing Song: Play on floor with baby while they stay on their tummy. Place toys in front of them and sing songs. Baby loves your face and voice! Helps baby by making Tummy Time fun.

  • Songs in Motion: Sing a song like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Use hand motions to get a reaction out of baby. Helps baby develop language skills.

See Videos

Week 7

Games to Play

  • Tap, Tap, Tap: With baby on their back, sing a song. While singing, tap the bottom of their feet in time with the song. Baby will love hearing your voice and the tapping gives them a new sound experience. Helps baby develop listening skills.

  • Hand Claps: Gently clap baby’s hands together to some music. Bring arms out in front and clap over their head, then to the right and left to the beat. Helps baby develop body awareness.

  • Cycling: While baby is lying on their back, pretend baby is riding a bike by gently grasping their ankles, keeping legs apart and moving them in slow circles. Tell baby what you’re doing using simple language: “go” and “stop.” Helps baby develop motor and hearing skills.

See Videos

Week 8

Games to Play

  • Hand Puppet Play: Place a puppet on your hand. Move puppet up and down, while saying baby’s name. See if they can follow the movement. Then move the puppet in a circle. As soon as they are able to follow the movement, try different movements. Helps baby develop vision skills.

  • Gentle Dance: Turn on some of your favorite music. Hold baby close while you sway to the rhythm and sing along. Helps baby be calmly introduced to new sounds and words.

  • Reach For It: Show baby a toy and move it towards their hand. Encourage baby to touch it. Be sure to switch sides so both hands get a chance to feel. You can even use common household items like measuring spoons. Helps baby learn to move their fists from closed to open. 

See Videos

Week 9

Games to Play

  • Cooing & Gurgling: Talk to baby often. They should be cooing (soft throaty sounds including vowels) and gurgling (low, throaty, wet sounds) back to you by about two months. Helps baby develop first steps to speaking.

  • Switch Swat: Dangle simple objects (rattle or plastic measuring spoons) from a string so baby can swipe at it. Items that light up or make sounds work well. Change objects every few minutes to keep baby engaged. Make sure objects are not a choking hazard. Helps baby develop hand-eye coordination.

  • Toy Gaze: Play with baby’s favorite toy in front of them while lying on their tummy to get them interested in looking up. Helps baby learn to lift up head. 

See Videos

Week 10

Games to Play

  • Parent Talkathon: Talking to baby is important! Use a slow, higher than normal pitch, almost a melodic voice to help get and keep baby’s attention. Babies prefer the sound of Moms’ and Dads’ voices. Your baby might even copy your tongue and mouth movements. Helps baby develop listening skills and mouth muscles.

  • Cheesy Smile: Smiling is one of the biggest expressions babies make! Give baby a big cheesy smile and make some funny noises. Watch them smile back at you. Helps baby bond with you and teaches them how to interact with others.

  • A Whole New World: Carry baby in different positions around the house. Carry baby tummy down or prop them up on your shoulder so they can see what is going on behind you. Helps baby develop head control and experience new movements.

See Videos

Week 11

Games to Play

  • Face Feelings: Grab a stuffed animal and talk to it. Touch its face. Name each part (nose, ears) you touch. Let baby feel the stuffed animal’s face and yours. Name what they touch. Then help them touch their own ears, mouth, etc., while you name each part. Helps baby develop sense of touch.

  • Play Peek-a-Boo: Lay baby on a blanket on their tummy on the floor. You can lay on your tummy facing your baby and cover your face with your hands or a scarf. Then uncover your face and say “peek-a-boo.” Helps baby develop play and memory skills.

  • Tongue Teezer: Stick out your tongue and encourage baby to try. Try this during diaper changes or playtime. Helps baby develop tongue control

  • Who Am I?: Gently bring baby’s hands to their face and help them stoke their cheeks. Point out different parts of their body as well. Helps baby learn about their body. 

See Videos

Week 12

Games to Play

  • Side Chats: Lie baby down and talk to them from the left and right sides. Helps baby turn head in different directions.

  • Tummy Carry & Chat: Hold baby close to you in a tummy-down carry. Slide one hand under the tummy and between their legs when carrying baby tummy-down. Chat while you go: “Up!” (lift them slightly); “Down!” (bring them back down); “And All Around!” (Move them left to right.) Helps baby build strength and communication skills.

  • Express Yourself: Baby carefully watches your expressions and will be using more of their own by this age. Use a variety of facial expressions. Helps baby develop early communications skills.

See Videos

Week 13

Games to Play

  • Busy Fingers: Baby should be spending time looking at and playing with their fingers and hands. Putting hands or toys in their mouth is typical at this age. Be sure toys are age appropriate and big enough to not cause choking. Helps baby learn hand-eye coordination while exploring their surroundings.

  • Sense of Touch: Baby’s sense of touch is fully developed at this stage. Try gently touching baby on feet and tummy. They should have reaction such as giggling or smiling. Helps baby develop sensory skills.

If you have concerns about your baby at all speak with your health visitor or doctor and make them aware of your concerns at your next appointment.

Why is the Sense of Touch so Important to babies?

baby skin to skin touch

Like other senses, the sense of touch plays a significant role in a baby’s growth. The lack of sense of touch during the early stages of pregnancy can affect growth. Babies with a great sense of touch are likely to understand emotions and learn things faster.

The sense of touch helps to improve cognitive development. Furthermore, the babies who receive skin-to-skin touch with their mother are likely to experience less anxiety, hostility, and emotional distress.

Lack of sense of touch reduces the learning power and delays cognitive development. Touch deprivation can increase aggression and may affect the behavior of babies.

When Do Babies Develop Sense of Touch Development?

baby grasping mom hand

According to the brain scans of the fetus, unborn babies don’t sense pain even after the end of 30 weeks of pregnancy, when most of the somatosensory neural pathway has been developed. However, in the middle of the third trimester of pregnancy, babies develop a sense of touch and experience the full range of senses such as pressure, cold, heat, and pain.

Over the next few months of pregnancy, touch receptors have been developed. Also, soles and palms will develop by the end of 12 weeks of pregnancy. And by the end of 17 weeks, babies develop an abdomen. After the completion of 30weeks, they can understand the full range of senses.

Baby’s Sense of Touch Development After Birth – Milestones

As discussed above, the baby’s touch sense begins to develop when they are in the womb. Let’s discuss this here in detail.

Birth to First Few Weeks (0 to 2 Weeks)

  • During seven to eight weeks of pregnancy, babies’ touch sense develops. Although they aren’t born yet and are growing within their mother’s womb, they can still experience various sensations, including temperature, heat, and cold.

  • Newborn babies have sensitive skin, and a few parts of the baby’s body are extremely sensitive to touch, such as the face, cheeks, abdomen, and hands.

  • The skin-to-skin touch with babies is a way to communicate with babies and build a bond with them. They feel secure and comfortable with your touch and can respond through a grasping reflex. However, the grasping reflex will soon disappear as babies start growing.

  • When mothers place their babies close to the chest, they automatically find nipples in the mouth. This type of reaction in babies is known as the rooting reflex.

[Read : Bonding With Your Baby – Why is it Important?]

First to Three Months (1 to 3 Months)

  • When your baby turns two months old, their sense of touch develops completely. They enjoy their mother’s touch and start responding to tickling and friendly handling.

  • When babies start chewing their toys, they use their lips, tongue, and mouth to feel the texture.

  • When your tiny baby is three months old, they will enjoy grasping things, noticing their surroundings, and differentiating between the items near them.

  • The mouth of the babies is highly sensitive, and you’ll be surprised to know they also use their mouth to explore and learn things around them.

Four to Six Months (4 to 6 Months)

  • When the baby is four months old, the baby’s muscles, especially hands and arms, start maturing and gaining strength. They begin to touch things and reach out to them.

  • At the age of five months, babies can hold and lift objects with their hands. However, they still use their mouth to understand and feel textures.

  • At 5 months, they also like to splash water while bathing.

  • The baby’s touch sense improves when they turn 6 months old. They learn to hold things firmly with both their hands. Moreover, they can pass the objects from one hand to another. At this age, babies enjoy touching things and interacting with other people.

Seven to Nine Months (7 to 9 Months)

  • The babies develop spatial awareness about things and surroundings when they are seven months old.

  • With their touch sense, babies can distinguish between 3D objects and flat objects.

  • They love to grab objects that are easy to grab, spin, and twist, such as soft toys.

  • Most babies start crawling by the age of nine months. Babies love to touch new things around them.

  • Babies pick up objects around them and put them in different places. It is vital to create a safe and friendly environment so that they do not harm themselves while playing with objects.

[Read : When Do Babies Start Grabbing Objects?]

Ten to Twelve Months (10 to 12 Months)

  • When your baby is one year old, their sense of touch develops completely. They can feel the textures such as soft, hard, cold, sticky, wet, and other things.

  • Now, they can investigate objects with their hands and play with objects.

  • Moreover, when babies turn 12 months old, they can feel everything around them. They can recognize the emotions and the way people interact with them.

Babies’ sense of touch starts developing when they are in the womb. As babies grow, they start developing different senses of touch that help them recognize things around them and sense heat, cold, temperature change, and other things. In the meantime, as a mother, you can help your baby learn different things and provide a comfortable environment to make them feel secure.


1. How Does Lack of Touch Affect Development?

Babies, at an early stage of development, only have a sense of touch. This is the only way they recognize and feel anything around them. Hence, if the babies lack touch, their other sense development may be affected. Moreover, they are not able to feel and respond to you.

2. How Can You Help Stimulate Your Baby’s Sense of Touch?

As a mother, you can engage your babies in different activities and play with them. Place toys near them and give them your finger to grasp whenever you hold them in your hands. It helps to develop grasping capabilities. Cuddle them while breastfeeding and nurture them with love. This is the way you can develop a sense of touch in them.

3. At What Age Can Babies Feel the Touch?

By the end of 8 weeks of pregnancy, babies start developing the sensation of touch. It starts when they are in the womb. So, all newborns are capable of sensing touch. They can sense things by touching them with their mouths and hands.

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Best Activities for a Newborn

best activities for newborns

Yes, you can play with even the youngest babies! Those cherished moments between naps and meals are the perfect time to make play part of your newborn's day. Here are some easy (and fun!) ways to get started.


Your baby is finally here! You’ve been waiting the better part of a year for your little miracle to arrive, and all you can do is stare in awe.

We don’t blame you! But you don’t have to wait to interact on an even deeper level. In fact, experts say play is just as important as eating and sleeping — right from the start. 

Though your baby isn’t playing peekaboo or engaging with toys in these very early days, play is still the primary way in which children explore and interact with the world around them. For a newborn, even returning a smile is a form of play — and it’s helpful for parents to recognize these actions as such, because engaging with your child in these instances makes the experience that much more enriching. 

What skills are your newborn developing?

Skills such as smiling for the first time and, later, waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones. These markers of a child's growth help pediatricians and parents track baby’s progress in four important developmental categories: social and emotional, language and communication, cognition, and gross and fine motor skills. 

It’s important to note, though: Every baby develops at her own pace. Developmental milestones are helpful, but they aren’t a strict schedule. If you have any concerns about your child’s progress, always talk to your pediatrician.

But, in general, here’s what you can expect to see during the first three months (what’s broadly considered the newborn period): 

Social and emotional skills

  • Makes brief eye contact

  • Calms when picked up

  • Begins to smile at people

  • Tries to look at parent or caregiver

Language and communication skills

Cognitive skills

  • Begins to track objects

  • Starts to act bored when activities don’t change

Gross and fine motor skills

Best Daily activities for newborn babies

So what can you do with a newborn who doesn’t do much more than, well, lay there? Experts say there are plenty of activities to help foster the rapid development that occurs during this stage. To engage your newborn and help her meet the milestones outlined above, try the following activities: 

Tummy time 

Put simply, tummy time is when you place your baby on her stomach to play. This activity helps build muscle and prepares your little one for the day when she'll be able to slide on her belly and, eventually, sit upcrawl and walk. It’s important to note, though: Baby should always be awake for tummy time — ”back to sleep, tummy to play.”

As soon as you’re settled in from the hospital — even the first day home isn’t too soon — you can place your baby on her tummy on a play mat. When she’s awake, put her on her tummy two or three times a day for a short session (three to five minutes). As she gets stronger and older, you can increase the time. If lack of sleep is making you forgetful, try to build it into your routine, such as always doing tummy time when she wakes up from a nap or after you change her diaper.

To make tummy time more enjoyable (many babies resist being placed on their bellies, especially at first), place something colorful or high-contrast on the mat. These high-contract images stimulate, plus help encourage your baby to lift her head and eventually recognize edges and shapes.

Place your baby in different positions

While it might be tempting to keep your — often sleeping — baby in her favorite swing, there’s good reason to change up her scenery (yes, even if it elicits a few cries at first). This “activity” helps baby see the world from new vantage points, something that’s crucial for her social and cognitive development. 

It’s easy to do, too: On a flat surface, move baby around. Rotate her so her head is facing you. After a few minutes, rotate her head away from you in a clockwise direction. Of course, you can also move baby from the floor to a swing, and then repeat the process, so she’ll get a higher bird's-eye view of the room, too.

Respond to your baby’s smile with a smile

It may not feel like play, but mirroring your baby’s smile (which you'll likely start noticing sometime between weeks 6 and 8) with one of your own teaches an important social-emotional skill: “Just by smiling at me, you can grab my attention and I’ll be all yours.”

Of course, you don’t need much for this activity — just your own happy face. 

Imitate your baby's coos and babbles 

As baby gets closer to 3 months, you can expect to finally get to hear a little more than her cries — you’ll begin to hear her sweet voice. Encouraging these language skills is important, as it promotes social development, as well as both expressive and receptive language.

All you have to do is “talk” to your baby. Here’s how: When baby makes a sound, have back-and-forth "conversation" using your baby's noises as a prompt. These back-and-forth behaviors promote self-regulation and impulse control, help form a strong foundation for understanding her interaction with adults and, of course, feed into the development of language.

Try puppet play

Wearing a puppet, move your hand up and down while saying baby’s name, then move the puppet in a circle. Observe to see if your baby can track the movements. As she gets better at following along, you can start to incorporate more complex movement to encourage her vision skills.

If you don’t own any puppets, you can easily fashion one out of a sock. Of course, you could get creative by gluing all kinds of fun craft supplies — pom-poms, feathers and more — to it, but a simple face with a fabric marker works just as well.  

Take an adventure around the house

Take your baby from room to room. While carrying her, try different positions — tummy down (with her chest carefully supported by your arms) or propped up on your shoulder, for example. This helps your little one experience new movements and see her world from different perspectives. 

Help your baby's eyesight develop

Your baby's once-fuzzy eyesight is growing clearer every day, and at around the 3-month mark, so is her ability to follow an object with her eyes. Give her some practice by offering interesting things to look at, such as:

  • Bright patterns. Sharp contrasts are more intriguing (and easily visible) to newborns than delicate pastels, so don't hesitate to go bold in what you show her. Draw simple pictures or cut them from paper and hang them near her changing table.

  • Mirrors. Babies love mirrors! She's not vain (she doesn't know that the baby she's watching is herself!), she just loves seeing another tot just her size. Choose an unbreakable mirror made just for infants.

  • Mobiles. Hang one about 6 to 12 inches above your baby's face, and off to one side (babies often show a preference for gazing to the right side — see if yours does, too). And remember, the objects on the mobile are for your baby's benefit, not yours. Make sure the most interesting view is from the bottom (where your baby's gaze is going) not the side or top (where yours is).

  • Faces and people. Whether live or in photographs, babies are fascinated by the human face. Offer yours for observation often, or show her pictures of other people's faces.

  • Books. There's no need for fancy words — or any words at all. Choose sturdy cardboard or cloth books with simple, clear drawings or photographs of everyday objects, babies, children and animals. Your baby might spend more time chewing on the book than looking at it, but she might occasionally sneak a peek at the pictures.

While the above activities are a great way to stimulate your baby, know that any positive interactions — even simply holding, rocking and reading to your little one — helps her thrive. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself: You don’t have to have all of the latest and greatest toys (and tons of them) — any activity in the day can become play. The most important thing is that your baby is engaged and enjoying the activity. 


Tickle their Fancy through Sensory Activities

40 Fun Stimulation Activities For Your Baby At Home

Looking for inspiration for what to do with your baby all day?

They don’t talk back, they don’t do move much, or at all, and they can’t focus on any activity for very long.

How to entertain a baby?

When it comes to babies, entertaining them is pretty simple – talk, show, interact, engage.

The key is to sit down and spend quality time with them, giving them your focus and attention – you don’t have to be a natural children’s entertainer to engage with your little one.

The thing to remember with a baby is you have an audience that is very easy to please. They don’t know your jokes are bad, or that you’re talking about the very boring errands you need to run today.

If you’re struggling with inspiration then toys are a great place to start.

Toys are great for engaging them, and for giving you ideas for how to engage with them. Some great baby toys are:

  • Rattles – shake them to show baby how they can make noise, and change the rhythms to speed up the sound then slow it down. Try handing it to them to see if they can grasp it.

  • Soft toys – cuddle the toy, say “ah soft”, then hand it to your baby to see if they will cuddle it. A younger baby won’t but from six months and upwards they will be copying what you do more and more.

  • Sensory toys – different textures of fabrics and colours, as well as toys that make noises when you push buttons or have mirrors for baby to catch a glimpse of themselves, are brilliant for babies. Talk to them about the different textures, which is rough and which is smooth.

  • Books – one of the best ways to engage with your baby is reading. You have the words right there for you to read out so it requires little creativity on your part, but you’re exposing your baby to new words.

Related post: Simple fine motor activities for babies

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Simple baby playtime activities

Here are some fun, easy and mostly free activities that your baby will love. Plus they’re perfect for bonding with your little one!

1. Daily Tummy Time

Even doing tummy time for just 10 minutes here and there makes a big difference to your baby’s development.

Plus you can make it really fun by holding out toys for them, dangling ribbons in don’t of them, anything that will catch their interest and encourage them to reach out.

2. Scent exploration

Get some fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil and parsley and hold them under your baby’s nose while explaining to them what each one is. This is a brilliant sensory activity.

3. Have a splash

Get a shallow tray or bowl and fill It with water. Get your baby’s legs out of their baby grow or trousers then kick their legs in the water. They will be fascinated by the noises and movement of the water.

You can use a Tuff Tray to make this activity even easier. They’re big enough for baby to easily sit in and even have a little crawl about. They are also perfect for messy play, so you’ll definitely use it when your baby is a toddler too. 

4. Dance

Put on your favourite tunes and have a good boogie. Carry your baby around with you or let them watch you.

Baby’s absolutely love the rhythm of music and this is a fabulous bonding activity, plus a good chance for a cuddle.

5. Tour of the house

Carry your baby from room to room and tell them what each room is for. The more you talk to them on a regular basis, the more you’re contributing to their language development.

You can find out lots more about how to develop your baby’s language right from the start with this post. 

6. Create a sensory box

Get a small box and fill it with all kinds of household and outdoor objects. Things like wooden spoons, sponges, scarves, a pine cone, feather, artificial flowers and stones are perfect.

Think about different textures and weights.

7. Different sounds

Talk to your baby about the different sounds that things make and imitate them. You could talk them through the different sounds farm animals make, or the noises you hear coming from outside.

8. Nursery rhymes

The sound of nursery rhymes is very appealing for small babies because they’re just fascinated by rhythm and music.

Get a small book of nursery rhymes if you’re not sure of all the words. My toddler still loves reading her nursery rhymes book now.

9. Sing your favourite songs

Sit on the sofa or floor and have a little sing along together.

Pick your all-time favourite songs to make it fun for you as well.

10. Have a chat

Nope they won’t talk back but babies are good listeners. Tell them about your pregnancy, your job, your family, your friends. Tell them whatever you want, without fear of judgement.

They will love the sound of your voice and you can get a few things off your chest.

Once your baby is a few weeks old they will start to babble back at you.

It won’t make very much sense, however this is an important part of language development.

When doing this activity remember:

  • Have baby close, so they can really see your facial expressions and connect with eye contact.

  • Pause and give them time to respond. It’s a type of conversation!

  • You may feel self conscious speaking nonsense or not be sure what to say. Say anything at all! They will love it.

11. Rustling paper

Get some tissue paper and put it in your baby’s hands or near their feet so they can shake and kick it to make it rustle. The noise will fascinate them and it teaches them about cause and effect.

12. Balloon kicking

Get a balloon or two filled with helium and tie them to your baby’s feet. They will love being able to make the balloons move. This is another good cause and effect lesson.

13. Mirror mirror

You could combine this one with tummy time by putting a mirror on the floor by your baby’s head in their line of vision or hold it up in front of them. Babies are fascinated by their reflection.

Alternatively stand in front of a mirror with your baby and talk to them about their reflection.

14. Shake a rattle

Rattles are so perfect for babies as they appeal to several of their senses – touch, sound, sight and taste when they stuff it in their mouth.

15. Baby massage

If you research groups in your area you may be able to find a local course for this. But you don’t have to take an entire course to be able to do this for your baby.

Grab some baby oil and massage their tummy gently before spreading to their arms and legs, giving their hands and feet a good run too. It’s a fab thing to do before bedtime or nap time to get them relaxed.

16. Making faces

Lie down on the sofa with your legs bent and pop your baby onto your tummy with their head resting on your knees. Then pull faces and see if you can find one that makes your baby laugh.

17. Grabbing baskets

Get three or four small boxes or baskets and fill them with similar things.

One might have large beads, another chunks of paper or cardboard, and another may have bits of pasta.

Let your baby explore each one either on their tummy or by showing them everything in the baskets. Of course do supervise your child to make sure they don’t eat any of the items in the baskets.

18. Rattle socks

These are great fun and are sold quite widely in the shops. Some have little bells in too. Pop them on and let your baby have a kick about with them on the floor.

19. String of beads

Get a string of play beads or decorative ones and hand them to your baby. Run the beads through their hands and dangle them in front of their line of vision.

20. Finger puppets

You can either make some or buy them. Create a fun puppet show or simply invent different voices for each of the characters and have them chat to your baby. This is great visual stimulation for your little one.

21. Fly away

Lie down on the floor on your back with baby on your tummy, so you are tummy to tummy, then lift your baby up above you.

Try adding a verbal cue like “three, two, one blast off!” as well. This is one to do with a baby who can hold their head up, so from around four months.

22. Curl up and cuddle up

Skin to skin contact is a brilliant way of bonding with your baby. It feels great for both your baby and you. But if it’s chilly it doesn’t have to be skin to skin.

Find a comfy spot and just enjoy having a cuddle, they won’t be this small forever. You could even pop your favourite box set on the telly.

23. Hiding toys

Get some of your baby’s favourite toys and hide them under a cloth or blanket. Make a big drama out of asking where they have gone. Then lift the cloth to reveal them saying “ta da”. This is a great learning experience for babies, as it can teach them that things still exist when they can’t see them.

24. Blowing raspberries

At around six months your baby should be able to return raspberries and they will love exchanging them with you. But before then they will find the noise interesting, and funny.

25. Family photo albums

Get out your favourite family photo albums and talk to your baby about who everyone is and where the photos were taken.

26. Bath

Make the bath lots of fun with toys, songs and bubbles.

27. Round and Round the Garden

Get your baby’s foot of hand and draw circles with your finger while singing “round and round the garden, like a teddy bear”. Then walk your fingers up their arm or tummy before tickling under their armpit while singing “one step, two step, tickley under there”.

28. Have a garden picnic

If the weather is warm enough put a blanket out and lay your baby on it. Enjoy your lunch outside while chatting to your baby about all the different plants and trees in the garden.

29. Rolling

Help your baby to roll from their back to their tummy and then return to their back again.

You can do this by either gently nudging them or holding their hand and helping them to push themselves over.

This is great from around three months and upwards.

30. Get creative with their toys

Use your baby’s stuffed animals to tell a little story. You can put on different voices and create characters with each of them. The visual stimulation will be fab for your baby.

31. Blow bubbles

All children are fascinated by bubbles. You can get bubble machines that do all of the hard work for you or go for the traditional pots.

32. Activity mat

The baby gym or activity mat is a must-have piece of baby gear in my opinion. The ones with arches that dangle toys are fantastic as they can keep your baby hypnotised for ages. Lots of them have different textures of fabric too which is perfect for stimulating your baby’s sense of touch.

33. Holding

Hand your baby toys, rattles or other objects they can easily grasp. They can grip and hang on to things from a very early age.

34. Copy cat

Hold your baby up facing you or hold them facing outwards in front of a mirror so they can see their face and your face. Copy every facial expression and sound they make.

35. Texture play

Get some corrugated cardboard, tissue paper, rough drawing paper and anything else you can think of. Let your baby explore the different textures with their hands and feet.

36. Get moving

Pedal their legs and flap their arms gently. Move their limbs for them to help them stretch them out and see what they can do with them.

37. Read a book

There’s so many amazing books for babies. The choice is endless and reading from an early age is a fantastic thing to do for your baby.

When they’re a few months old they will be able to help turn the pages too.

For a few ideas of books that are suitable check out these books for one year olds.

38. Make up a story

Invent a story involving your family or a different cast of characters and tell it to your baby. They just love hearing the sound of your voice.

39. Name the body parts

Lie your baby down on their play mat or changing mat and name their body parts while also pointing them out on yourself. So nose, mouth, ears, hair. You could even sing head, shoulders, knees and toes to them.

40. Drawing

No, your baby can’t draw yet of course!

But they will love to watch you making marks on a piece of paper. You can always put a pencil or pen in their hand and help them draw lines on a piece of paper.

41. Surf the internet

You might have a bit of internet shopping to do or need to catch up on emails. Your baby will be so intrigued by the computer.

Once they get a bit older you can let them try typing on the keyboard. This isn’t about giving them screen time, it’s about letting them just sit back and watch what you do.

Keep chatting to them as you go, explaining what you are doing!

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