Enrich your baby's sensory experience with these seeing, listening, tasting, touching, and sniffing activities.
For babies, the world is a magical mix of sights, sound, smells, tastes, and touchables. Unlike (most) adults, children feel first and think later – and that's a beautiful thing. So how can you help your baby (and yourself!) enjoy an even richer sensory experience? Try these five tips and see what happens.
Your baby's vision is not as sophisticated as yours, so she doesn't yet know how to focus in on individual images. Help direct your baby's attention by identifying colors, patterns, shapes, objects, and people ("Look at the red bird in the big, green tree!" "See how that cloud looks like a bunny!").
At this age, individual sounds are difficult to distinguish as well. A baby's world is a cacophony of voices, noises, vibrations, and tones. You can help her exercise her auditory muscles by playing listening games: "Do you hear a dog barking? Where is that sound coming from?" "I hear music. Do you? Is it loud or soft?" Exposing your child to different kinds of music and discussing what she hears is another way to boost listening skills, so play CDs, turn up the radio, or belt out your own favorite tunes.
Once your baby is eating a variety of solids, around the eight-month mark, experimenting with a variety of tastes, textures, and colors is a great way to broaden her culinary (and sensory) horizons. As you give her different foods to sample, describe their characteristics. "These bananas are sweet – and a little mushy."
"Wow, that yogurt is tangy and so smooth." If your baby doesn't like something she tastes or doesn't feel like trying a new food, don't force it. Tasting new stuff should be fun (even as grown-ups!). If your little one isn't chowing down on anything but breast milk or formula yet, describe the foods you're eating – it'll be good prep!
The opportunity to discover the world through touch boosts your child's tactile and brain development as it builds motor skills and an active curiosity. Narrate her discoveries: "Sparky's fur is so soft, Daddy's beard is scratchy, the grass is wet..." and make sure any environment she's exploring is safe, wherever you may be.
Here's an interesting fact about babies: They can't differentiate between nice smells and stinky ones until they reach toilet-training age. But you can start some on-the-nose training by taking your baby on a sniff-tour of her world. Make a point of pointing out the aromas of things like fragrant soaps, just-baked cookies, flowers, and fresh-cut grass, and help her find the words that describe those scents. ("That smells sweet." "This smells yummy!")