By Aimee Collett
Babies are the masters of enjoying and engaging with common household items that they consider being amazing “toys”. Simple “toys” (a box, a transparent water bottle filled with coloured rice, or saucepans) seem to produce the greatest source of enjoyment for Freddie. Simple toys that do not necessarily have a specific function, or predetermined outcome, lead to open ended play, greater exploration and discovery.
Here are some of my favorite top 10 creative ideas for your little ones:
1. A sensory peek-a-boo board:
Secure photos onto a piece of cardboard (a shoe box lid is perfect for this.) Consider using photos of family, animals, or pictures to represent favourite songs (a spider for Incy Wincy Spider, a black sheep for Ba Ba Black sheep etc). Clear tape over the photos will help protect them. Cover each photo with a piece of fabric (ensure that babies can lift the fabric pieces to reveal the pictures), preferably different textured fabrics. Attach ribbons and items to the fabrics. Invite your baby to explore what is under each piece of material.
2. Baby Has a Ball:
Yes indeed, you can play ball with baby long before your newborn is able to catch and throw.
To keep things interesting, find a ball designed for infants that has different textures and colors to keep their interest. First, try giving the ball to your baby and see what he tries to do. You can show him different ways to play by gently rolling the ball or putting it in a container. As he develops muscle tone and learns more about how the world works, he’ll start to imitate you and come up with his own games.
This is where you get to try out all kinds of crazy voices, noises and break out with some of your best performances – the sillier the better! You can play it safe and rely on textured board books and stories which have stood the test of time. Alternatively, you could tweak some favourite stories from your childhood, add some puppets and have your baby captivated.
4. Sensory Play experiences:
Can include filling a small container with large coloured pom poms or cotton balls. Include plastic bowls, scoopers and cups. Babies may scoop, pour and transfer pom poms. With adult supervision, water, sand, shredded paper and play dough are also other sensory experiences that babies may enjoy.
5. Music, singing and dancing:
Why not perform a concert for your baby…. Audience participation with your baby clapping, drumming, or playing a musical instrument would certainly add to the memorable experience.
6. Mommy See, Mommy Do
Just as you can read baby’s signals to know when to play baby games, you can take your lead on how to play from your little bundle of joy. For example, if your baby is vocalizing with “coos” and “ga-gas,” try imitating your baby’s sounds. That will help your baby develop a foundation for conversation skills. Likewise, when baby smiles, smile back. This will help your baby develop self-confidence as he realizes that you’re having fun and enjoying his company.
You can limit the mess by putting paint in snap lock bags and letting your baby swirl, squish and press the paint around in the bag. Why not make it a true sensory experience (and full body one too) and let your baby apply paint to a canvas. You will end up with a masterpiece at the end.
8. Sensory obstacle course:
This is a great idea for those hot days. It may involve rearranging some furniture to make “tunnels”. Suspend coloured scarves, or ribbons at one end of the tunnel for your baby to crawl, or walk through. Place a mirror (the ones that can be detached from baby play mats are ideal) and torch (night lights that project stars all around the room are fun for babies to see) at different points in the tunnel. Include different textured materials for your baby to interact with as well as cushions for your baby to climb and crawl over. A large box could also be added to an obstacle course for your baby to crawl in and out of.
9. Outdoor Play Time:
Being outside is a wonderful sensory experience for babies. Talk with your baby about the sounds you hear, movements you see, fragrances you can smell. Touch natural objects that are smooth, rough, bumpy etc. See if your baby is interested in experiencing different textures under their feet as they walk on grass, or put their feet in sand at the beach.
10. Eye spy bottles: make a fun “toy” for babies:
Colour rice (place some rice in a snap lock bag, add a few drops of food colouring and vinegar. Squish the rice around the bag until it’s all coloured). Pour the rice into a transparent bottle with a lid. Add some little figurines, trinkets and buttons (material stores and some craft stores sell buttons that feature animals, foods and a variety of themes). Babies may enjoy shaking and rolling the bottle around and will be rewarded for their vigorous efforts as they discover new and exciting objects each time they move the bottle.
About Aimee: When I am not blogging or reviewing I work full-time running my ‘Eco Friendly’ Nursery and can usually be found in Jumeriah Lake Towers, Dubai at Paddington Nursery, face covered in paint. With my love of children and being healthy I created a Lifestyle Initiative in the middle of Dubai where children come to learn and prepare themselves for the long scary journey of ‘life’.