Babies learn using all their senses. Their developing brain absorbs information about the world through: Seeing
It’s really nice to move away from commercially produced toys. They can be very similar in sensory terms, so lots of plastic and primary colours, no variety in the smell, taste and texture. Playing and learning can happen in lots of different ways so you don’t have to always get out standard toys if you would like to play with your baby and show them new things.
Babies will often have more fun playing with the wrapping paper and gift box than the toy inside – and now you know why all their senses are stimulated by the textures, colours, sounds etc. of these materials.
Just look around your house for things they can explore – such as a bowl full of large dried (or cooked) pasta shells and a wooden spoon. Your baby will love to push their hands into the bowl of pasta, to stir it, to drop it, mess it up. There will be lots of sensory feelings going on. It’s exploring and it’s really good for your baby to have opportunities to play with you in this way.
Finger paints are another good way to do this. Yoghurt is like natural, edible finger paint that you can let your baby play within his high chair once he’s started solids at around 6 months.
From about the age, your baby can sit up and pick things out of a box you should make up a treasure box. He will enjoy it well into toddler-age and you can change the contents of the box over time and expose him to lots of exciting items.
You can make up a treasure basket very cheaply – for example, a little wicker basket or a cardboard boot box. You can then make up a collection that your baby can investigate using his five senses. Things that he can rustle and rattle and shake and chew and smell. You can change the contents all the time.
A treasure basket becomes a lovely collection of natural things and things from around the home. It is really lovely to have a collection of safe, real things for a baby to investigate and play with that aren’t conventional toys but have all the same lovely learning possibilities. It’s nice for them to have things that they can pick up and hold and taste and experiment with. Children will sit for ages and explore all these different things and take them out and put them back in.
Common sense needs to prevail here so there should be nothing toxic, dangerous (e.g. sharp) or a choking hazard in the box.
You also should never leave your baby unattended with their treasure box as these are real things, not baby toys and babies learn best if they can share the experience with you.
Here are some ideas for your baby’s treasure box:
Other classic sensory items to introduce your baby: