Exploration starts for babies from the second they are born. Try slowly poking your tongue out at your newborn baby and watch how they mimic you.
They are born with wonder, curiosity and an eagerness to have their senses tantalised.
So here’s our tried and tested ways to get the smallest members of the family involved in a hands on way right from the beginning.
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At a few months I sat Noah in his bumbo chair with a piece of tin foil to explore. (Obvious supervision is required so it is not eaten.)
Discovery Sparkle Bottle
Mila and I made a discovery sparkle bottle for baby Noah. We used an old plastic bottle which we filled with sparkly bits, bits of foil, glitter & hazelnuts. We then filled with water and glued the screw cap on.
We just filled a polly pocket (or zip lock bag) with paint, sealed it and taped it to the table by placing sticky tape around the edges. Squishy fun!
Baby Noah is now able to sit in an upright bath seat which enables us to start on sensory/discovery water play.. we used old milk cartons that we made holes in as squirty bottles. The smaller the carton then the easier for the baby to handle.
I used a baking tray because it had small sides so it was easily accessible for baby Noah, I attached a piece of double sided sticky tape to the underneath to stop the tray being knocked off his high chair. I then whisked up some bubbles using baby ‘no tears’ shampoo and scooped it into the tray for him to explore.
Mirror Sensory Play
I gathered up everything I could find that was reflective or shiny, mirrors, spoons, ladles, biscuit tin lids, shiny gift bags, tin foil covered apples & saucepans, I placed Noah’s playmat in front of the shiny dishwasher and let him explore. He loved it.
We did edible painting with baby Noah using custard powder made up with Noah’s baby milk. Messy and fun.
We had some sensory exploration with a tray full of wiggly wobbly jelly in the bath.
I put baby Noah by the window so he could discover the rain. We then went into the garden so he could touch the wet bushes.
Initial responses when your baby gets hold of the baby wipes is to quickly take them off of them to avoid mess and wastage…. but this can be a mesmerising activity of discovery for your little one. Let them dig in, you can always push them back in the packet.
I put a few squirts of different coloured paint into a ziplock bag, I then used sticky tape to stick it to the window. I put baby Noah in his baby chair in front of the window so he could squidge the paint around in the bag.
Balls in a Bowl
I put two balls in a large bowl & let baby Noah chase them around.
Salt Dough Hand Prints
We mixed together 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of plain flour, 3/4’s of a cup of water & 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil. I rolled out the dough & then firmly pressed baby Noah’s hand into it to form a handprint. I then put it in the airing cupboard on greaseproof paper to air dry…..with supervision I let baby Noah squidge and play with a large chunk of the dough. This was my first attempt at making salt dough.
I put baby Noah (6 months) in his baby chair in the bath and gave him a chocolate mousse to explore. He had a very messy but tasty and enjoyable time. Prepare to get splashed with yumminess.
Toys in Jelly
I used an old plastic food tray, made up some jelly (using about 60ml additional water) & placed a few of Noahs toys in it, i left to set in the fridge overnight. I took it out of the fridge a few hour before play so it was not too cold for him. I put him in his high chair & let him dig in…Mila (3) loved joining in too. You can buy packets of jelly at supermarkets for around 12p.
Noah was let loose with a bowl of flour. Here’s a taster before it all got a little ‘explosive like’, he loved it.
I used a few tablespoons of corn flour mixed together with water until a gloopy consistency was formed. I gave baby Noah (7 months) & Mila some spoons and let them play, mix, touch, feel and explore the gloop. I ran out of corn flour so ended up adding plain flour to the mixture (because thats what i had in the cupboard) this made it quite sticky…. They both ended up in the bath after this messy activity.
I boiled some potato and courgettes until they were soft, I mashed the potato but left the courgettes whole. I placed baby Noah (8 months) on an old sheet, I gave him the bowl with a wooden spoon and let him explore, Mila (4) also loved getting her hands stuck in.
Frozen Balloon Sensory
We filled up balloons with water and then put them in the freezer. Once frozen, we took them out and placed them in a warm bath for baby Noah to explore, we left some in the balloons and took the balloons off of some to reveal the ice balls.
Baby Safe Moon Dough
I mixed 1/2 a cup of olive oil (you can use sunflower or vegetable oil) with 4 cups of plain flour, it formed a crumbly type dough that could also be moulded, I put it on a tray and let baby Noah get stuck in…it was messy but easily swept up.
Just add a few drops of food colouring.
Baby Noah discovered the forest floor and explored.
If your little people are too small to be out in the cold snow then bring the snow in! A huge snowball on a tray was gratefully excepted by baby Noah…. even though he tried his best to eat it.
Noah, 11 months had great fun but it was also much enjoyed by Mila’ 4. We used a large piece of cardboard and water to paint, we had a large pan of water and thick paintbrushes that we used to ‘paint/wet’ the cardboard, once dried we could start all over again.
This morning whilst Baby Noah (11 months) shouted for his breakfast I gave him a roll of sticky tape, scrunched up in a ball with a few bits torn off & some put on his high chair table and a long bit left hanging off the roll kept it him amused for nearly 15 minutes whilst I had a cup of tea…. Why did I not discover this years ago?
Free Reign Garden Exploring
Under our watchful eye we let baby Noah (11 months) explore the garden of his own accord. He had a great time and scrubbed up well.
We used old bottles which we filled ith different kinds of things for baby Noah to discover. Pasta, Cotton buds, tin foil, pipe cleaners, soapy water & rice. We put a bit of glue in the screw cap so Noah couldn’t take the tops off. He loved playing with them.
Shaving Foam Play
The sun came out today so we got the paddling pool out, we used a can of shaving foam to create a messy playtime for baby Noah (11 months) & Mila 4. They had a great time squishing & sliding & mixing shaving foam pies. Supervision is recommended for babies so they don’t eat it although the foul taste soon deterred Noah.
Flower Sensory Bottle
We filled an empty bottle with flowers and water to make a colourful bottle for baby Noah, we tightly secured the cap and put a piece of material over the top held on by an elastic band.
Frozen Jelly & Ziplock Bag Sensory Play
We made up some jelly and put it in the freezer overnight, when we took it out it was hard but still had quite a soft and squidgy consistency, we also filled ziplock bags with water and a drop of food colouring, Mila liked experimenting by making holes in the bags and watching the water leak out.
Pots and pans to bang on.
Beach Sensory Bottle
We made a beach sensory bottle.
Birthday Cake Messy Play
We placed the paddling pool in the kitchen and gave baby Noah his birthday cake along with some cake ingredients to explore…
Material Discovery Box
I used a cardboard box which I cut a hole in the top of & then filled with strips of old material, Noah loves to pull baby wipes from the packet or trash the box of tissues given half the chance so this really kept him amused.
Personalised Board Book
I printed out some pictures of Noah and used sticky tape to stick them into an old board book. I made sure the tape covered the whole picture so it made it waterproof from dribble clad little fingers… He was intrigued to see photos of himself & his siblings in his book.
Activities don’t always go to plan… After a long restless night on the Calpol Noah found an alternative use for today’s activity. I made a simple sensory paddling pool with strips of tin foil and paper fishes for him to explore in the warmth of the lounge, whilst I cracked on with the housework he dragged his blankie in, tossed everything out, snuggled down and went to sleep.
Chilling at the beach whilst Noah plays in the sand, the kitchen is a pleasure to be in this afternoon…
I used a transparent bin liner which I squirted paint into, I then folded the open end and sealed with tape. I placed it on the floor & used sticky tape to stick all the sides to the floor. Noah enjoyed his mess free squishy playmat. You could alternatively tape it to a window for a giant hands on squishy sun catcher.
An easy, free and effective way to entertain the littlest members of the family. Simply fill plastic bottles with water and small items and glue on the lids securely.
Pipe Cleaner Threading
A simple activity that kept Noah busy and concentrated, we used a cutlery container turned upside down. A colander would work well too.
Spaghetti Messy Sensory Play
We cooked some spaghetti & then cooled it off in cold water and placed it into a container. We sat baby Noah on some old towels and let him explore the spaghetti, he loved it. (A packet of value spaghetti only cost approx 40p.)
Ball Pit Bath
Another use for those ball pit balls that are kicking about… Noah loved holding the balls under the water and watching them pop back up with a splash!
Masking Take Roaks and Tracks
Make some masking tape roads and tracks.
Make some toilet paper tube tunnels.
Make a simple den.
Hold some bugs and look at them closely.
Use a large box to make a small world.
Explore some bubbles.
Explore the rain.
Explore the garden together.
Visually Sensory Bottles
I put an assortment of watered down paint & glitter into bottles and backlit them with my phone to make them a bright contrast of colours to catch Ms A’s intrigued eyes.
At 8 weeks old ms A’s attention was held for a little while as she was drawn to the bright blocks of colour.
I think her face says it all… Ms A is just 7 weeks old and it looks like she already has an appreciation for the beauty of world around her.
Step outside, it’s fab for the senses.
At 6 weeks old Ms A is becoming more and more aware and interested in her surroundings, she is drawn to light and starting to show an intrigue in sound.
With the heavy rain pitter pattering on the window pane I placed her in her chair close by so she could watch and hear. ????????
Baby Sensory Pouch
When Ms A was 4 months old she was fascinated by the noise of a crinkly crisp packet but I didn’t want her to hold it in case it scratched her. So I decided to make it into a safe and non scratchy sensory pouch for her.
Full instructions here: Baby Sensory Pouch.
Baby Sensory Cube
This was really easy to make from an old box and bits and bobs around the house.
Full instructions here: Baby Sensory Cube.
Baby Sensory Play Mat
Another simple but well-loved idea is this Baby Sensory Roll Mat that a crawling Ms A loves exploring.
Baby Sensory Den
This was a big hit when we shared the idea! It’s really easy to make a Baby Sensory Den and you’ll love the squeals of delight!
Baby Sensory Taggy Box
At 11 months old Ms A loved to pull things out of boxes and containers so with this in mind I decided to make her a Baby Sensory Taggy Box.
Family Tree Peek A Boo Box
Babies love Peek a Boo so I decided to make a family tree peek a boo box for Ms A, 11 months old.
Paint Bag Roll Mat
It turns out that Ms A did not enjoy painting when we first tried it so I thought outside the box to come up with an alternative way she could enjoy the paint without getting mucky. And came up with the paint bag roll mat. She thought it was fab! Mess free and it packs away neatly and can be used time and time again.
Jess Dickinson says
LOVE these. Our favourite is jelly play – also, using dry oats is always a success 🙂
Mrs FD says
I’ve never tried dry oats!! Thanks, i’ll give that a go x