Creating rich sensory play experiences for your baby is a fun and easy way to encourage the development of essential motor skills and help them get a better sense of the world around them. With a little creativity, everything inside your home can be transformed into an exciting discovery activity. We’ve selected five at-home DIY holiday-inspired ideas to address all five senses and to get your creative juices flowing. A great solution for snowed-in weekend afternoons, your little one will enjoy investigating each of the items, sometimes at length. We think that setting aside some quiet time with your baby when you can provide guidance, verbal cues and encouragement is a wonderful opportunity for the both of you.
As with all activities, be sure to never leave the baby unattended and be sure to customize suggested ideas so that the items are age-appropriate for your baby.
1. Holiday Sensory Bin
Picking the right sensory materials can be a little tricky since babies put practically everything in their mouths so how to create a bin that’s packed with holiday fun but safe? My Small Potatoes blogger recommends puffed rice for a snowy look, red, green and white paper straws cut in half to avoid accidental eye poking, soft ornaments with hooks removed and little strips of ribbon (less than nine inches each) in various textures and colors. If you want to go one step further, you can string ribbons through a piece of cardboard box, so your baby can tug and pull at the ribbon pieces back and forth. You can also toss everything into a Tupperware for portable fun at any family gathering.
2. Colored Ice Sensory Play
Bring Learn Play Imagine’s colored ice sensory play indoors by using a large bin of water. In case baby wants to taste the ice, consider making it from a winter fruit or vegetable puree for a taste of the holidays. Please keep in mind that you’ll want to offer larger pieces of ice that won’t pose a choking hazard for younger kids. To help baby build her vocabulary, describe the sensory experience and use descriptive words such as cold, shiny, sweet and smooth.
3. Bringing Snow Inside
Playing outside in the snow is a wonderful sensory experience, but it can get too cold, especially for the parents! Bring the snow inside in a large plastic bin, customize the activity to your baby’s age and interests, and the possibilities are endless. Growing a Jeweled Rose has brilliant ideas from painting and spraying the snow with water colors to the more advanced creation of the “Snow Volcano.”
No Snow? Not to worry, with just two simple ingredients of rice cereal and coconut oil, you can make edible snowmen or snowballs with Lemon Lime Adventures’ recipe for cloud dough. Sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon for a taste of the winter and place the dough in a bin.
4. Holiday Sensory Board
What are your favorite holiday items or traditions? Toddler Approved’s sensory board offers an interactive opportunity to share holiday stories, talk about your family customs and values and boost their verbal skills as well. Get creative on the textures and also include familiar holiday symbols, so they can feel proud when they recognize it outside your home.
5. Merry & Bright Sensory Play
Babies love exploring new things and can’t help grabbing, touching and putting everything in their mouth – a key issue when it comes to ornaments and lights on your Christmas tree! Little Lime Adventures found a perfect solution with this merry and bright sensory play using a plastic jar and string of Christmas lights. Baby can now explore her first Christmas with her hands, too, and simultaneously serves as an awesome photo op for your holiday cards.
Do you have a sensory play activity that your little ones have loved? We’d love to hear your innovative ideas and adorable stories, and pictures and videos are always welcome. Just tag them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #OttoSensoryFun!