Posts Tagged ‘play’

Sensory Activities for Baby

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

sensory activities for babySo your baby is 3 months old now.  She seems to be ready to play and learn about her world.  But how do you play with a 3-month-old? Providing her with sensory activities each day helps her develop cognitively, begin to learn language, and gives you the opportunity to play with your baby. Initially, I was hesitant to start using sensory activities because activities that create a big mess are overwhelming to me. However with a little research, I discovered that with slight modifications, many everyday activities turn into sensory activities, becoming opportunities to play with your baby, build foundations for language development, and encourage exploration of her world.

The following are 10 activities I used with both my girls to address the five senses.

  1. Reading touch and feel books together (The That’s Not My… series are my girls’ favorite touch and feel books)
  2. Creating scent jars by filling empty spice jars with strong smelling objects (basil, orange, lemon, lavender, etc)
  3. Creating a ribbon box by attaching ribbons at the opening of an old box (one that is large enough for your baby to lay in/under)
  4. Allowing them to squish and play with their food once they start solids
  5. Providing toys that crinkle, make other sounds, and have many textures (Melissa and Doug’s Flip Fish was one of Juniper’s favorites from about 4 to 7 months old)
  6. Walking outside while talking to your baby about things you see, sounds you hear, and smells you smell
  7. Playing peek-a-boo and other songs that use scarfs
  8. Going to baby storytime and other age-appropriate mommy and me classes
  9. Looking at and making silly faces in mirrors
  10. Talking to your baby while grocery shopping about what color, shape, etc of the items you’re purchasing (sometimes I accidentally do this on solo shopping trips and get weird looks!).  In the produce section, I let my girls touch and smell the produce we intend to purchase as I’m talking about it.

Having your baby do sensory activities does not require a huge mess or a lot of prep before hand.  With little extra effort, you can maximize your baby’s opportunity to use their senses and learn about the world.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

I’m Down with Dirt

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I'm Down with DirtMy child eats dirt. She ate dirt today, in fact. When a baby does it, you get it; they’re exploring their world. When a 3-year-old eats dirt? You wonder if they have any taste buds at all. But, for all my lack of inclination to eat dirt myself, I’m totally ok with the fact that she has, from time to time.

Here’s why:

  1. Dirt is a rite of passage for kids. It’s fun to get dirty. It’s fun to bake mud pies, to dig for buried treasure, to drive trucks through the dirt, and to build sand castles. I also take a dirty kid as a sign that that child was fully invested in his or her play. They let their imagination take over and didn’t stop one moment to worry what mom might say about their clothes, or the fact that they may be earning a one-way ticket into the bath. They just played. They released endorphins, relaxed, and probably came in happy. (It’s a good idea to send your child out in play clothes, though. I’m about as big of a fan of getting a dirt stain out of good clothes as anyone else.)
  2. Dirt is also good for the immune system. I am 100 percent ok with contact with the public world. I’m probably the most unconcerned mother ever when using public toilets. Sure, I take the proper precautions. We wash hands, but not with antibacterial soap, just the regular stuff, but I don’t carry hand sanitizer and I pick toys up of the ground without thought. I’m trying to teach her about how germs spread and what she needs to do to stay healthy, but I also view getting dirty as one of those steps toward staying healthy. I’ve long embraced the idea that the more we come into contact with, germ-wise, the more our bodies are prepared to fight everything off. Science tends to support this deduction as well.
  3. Dirt is outside. If your child came home dirty, she was probably OUTSIDE. Outside, in nature. She was connecting with nature in some way. I personally feel that we’re losing our connection with nature and would like to inspire my daughter to appreciate what it is to connect with the earth, with the plants and trees and animals around her. So, we garden together. We go on hikes through drippy woods. We flip over rocks in search of roly poly bugs and we beachcomb for seashells. That also means I carry towels in the car to wipe off muddy shoes and often vacuum sand from the floor, but I’m ok with that.

So that’s why I’m down with dirt. What about you? Has your child tasted a mud pie or two?

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW with her husband and their 3 year old daughter. She was a dirt loving, tree climbing kid who grew into a terrible gardener who loves nature. 

Messy Outdoor Fun

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Messy outdoor funWarm weather is here and there is nothing more fun than spending time playing outdoors with your baby. Outdoor activities are a fun excuse to strip your baby down to his diaper, soak up the vitamin D and get messy!

Sensory activities provide extra stimulation for your baby, allowing them to use their senses connecting smell, touch, hearing, sight and so much more while building neurological pathways and having fun. Plus, studies show that baby can build her immune system just by getting a little dirty now and then.

First of all, you don’t need a fancy sand or water table to create a sensory table. All you need are a few shallow, large plastic bins. I like using the ones sold for under-the-bed storage. They’re large enough for more than one child to play and shallow enough for your child to get in there and get messy while playing on the floor.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for hours of outdoor fun using things other than sand and water, which kids also love!

Slimy worms box. All you need is a few boxes of the cheapest pasta you can find, cook it up so it’s not too mushy and dump it into a bin once it’s cooled down. Use lots of different shapes of pasta and mix in some long spaghetti to make it more fun. If baby is still gumming everything you can add some vegetable-based food coloring to it to make it more fun. If they’re past that stage and you’re OK with a little bit of a mess, you can add some non-toxic finger paint to it, or let your child do it.

Dumping and Pouring. You can use a variety of things for this one: beans, raw pasta, rice, corn, oats–whatever you can find. Get together a variety of different-sized containers and let them explore pouring and dumping and learning about volume.

Ice castles. With a few disposable tin foil baking molds (think loaf pans, cake pans, casseroles) you can make great blocks for building castles. Pour some water mixed with food coloring into the molds, freeze overnight and you’ve got yourself some great melting blocks to build an ice castle.

Body Painting. Tape a large piece of paper to the floor and get out the finger paints. Look around for some different things you can use for painting (leaves, grass, rocks, marbles, anything really), pour some paint onto a tray and encourage your baby to use all the different supplies as well as their hands, feet or elbows.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.