What is sensory play and what are sensory play activities?

Sensory play is play that engages your child’s five senses! The world is full of new and exciting sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and textures that your baby will start to notice from the moment they’re born. Even prior to birth, babies start to recognize their mother’s voice and smell! 

Incorporating play activities that stimulate all five senses has many benefits including:
  • Helping to build nerve connections in the brain
  • Encouraging the development of motor skills
  • Supporting language development
  • Encouraging scientific thinking and problem solving skills
  • Helping to calm your child and allow them to be present and mindful

    When your little one is a baby, just touching different objects can help their brain start thinking about the world around them. You can stimulate their senses by rubbing their back, talking to them, or just blowing raspberries on their tummy! As they are able to reach for things and play, you will notice them enjoying the sounds they can make with rattles or crinkly toys. 

    As an older infant or toddler, your little one may be ready to start exploring for themselves. The good news is that you can create a sensory activity out of things you already have at home! 

    Sensory play ideas and activities:

    • Create a sensory bin: Sensory bins allow children to engage their senses, explore, and learn through hands-on tactile play. These bins encourage and support various types of development and can easily be made at home. There are endless variations, including a Sensory Smash Bin and Laundry Basket Sensory Bin.
    • Playing with food: As messy as it sounds, giving them safely prepared food in their high chair is the perfect way to activate their senses. Watch as they smash, smell or taste their food!
    • Playdough: Playdough is a great sensory and learning activity and it can even be made at home!  
    • Plant a Flower: Older kids can help dig dirt, plant seeds, and water, watch and smell as the flower grows!
    • Finger Painting: Using finger paint, they can see how the different colors mix together and feel the wet paint on their hands.
    • Water or Sand Play: Water and sand offer different visual, textural, and temperature sensations that can be explored in nature or at home. For example, an activity such as Frozen Pom Pom Play.

    Since children learn by doing, sensory activities will help prepare your child to better understand and take on the world around them and get used to new feelings and experiences as they grow!


    This article has been reviewed by our team of experts.

    Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.