The first few weeks with a new baby can be a stressful time for families. Learning your baby’s cues, figuring out your routine everyday and trying to get enough sleep. An activity for sensory development can be the furthest thing on your mind at the moment, however they are very important to incorporate in your baby’s everyday routine.
For more sensory activities for ages newborn – 6 months old, head over to my outdoor sensory play ideas post.
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Newborn – 6 Months
As a newborn, babies cannot see that well. High contrast picture books or images are great for eye coordination. The LOVEVERY brand is very popular and I have heard great reviews on their products. The Lovevery Play Gym is a favorite among moms wanting to incorporate the Montessori style of learning.
I wish I knew more about The Play Kits by Lovevery before I had my daughter. They have wonderful monthly subscription boxes that take the guess work out of play time. The age range is newborn – 3 years old with each box focusing on developing or enhancing skills for that age.
If the Lovevery Play Gym is a bit out of your price range, The Sassy Stages Play Gym is a great alternative for families on a budget and still wanting the Montessori learning experience.
I personally like bright colors, they are fun. Think about when you take your child to daycare or school, the classrooms are filled with bright fun colors. By three months old, your child will see brighter colors and the brightly colored play gym and toys will come in handy.
If you want to follow the Montessori based learning, but not sure were to start I have a Beginners Guide To The Montessori Method post. I have also found a few GREAT products to get you started with Montessori style learning.
Make Your Own High Contrast Images
The easiest way is to perform a google search for “printable high contrast images for babies.” If you are more like me, a bit crafty, go into Microsoft Word and insert a few different shapes. Change the fill colors to black and print out. Easy right! Tape the shapes around the babies play area for them to look at during tummy time or laying on their back. A quick and easy activity of sensory development.
If you do not have the time to make your own high contrast images, I have FREE printable for you! Sign up below to receive your freebie!!
Tracking Toys and Reflection
An important milestone for infants to achieve is being able to track movement. This is a simple activity for you to do with your child everyday. Start with a large ball or block, slowly and steadily move the object from side to side. Your baby should show interested in following the object while you move it. I liked to use one of Scarlett’s favorite toys, Oball. You may notice around three to four months your baby will try to reach for the object, however refrain from letting go of the toy just yet. Your baby may still need to build up their arm strength and grasping.
I incorporated reflection time into tummy time, bath time and diaper change. I have a beautiful mirror above Scarlett’s changing area. Every diaper change, I would hold her up and point to us in the mirror and dance. I believe this helped her to like diaper changes after a few weeks. I performed the same routine with bath time, but she was not impressed. Tummy time we used a small mirror which came with her playgym.
Mimicking and Recognizing Faces
Around two months old, babies will start to recognize familiar faces and voices. This is a great time to show your baby how to make different facial expressions. Laying Scarlett on her back, I would lay beside her and make different funny facial expressions. After several days of this sensory development activity, Scarlett started to make the same faces I would make. Be sure to praise your child when an activity is performed correctly.
Babies also love selfies! You get a nice picture of you and your baby while your baby enjoys looking at their reflection.
Touch and Smell
In a babies first few months, touch and smell play an important part in their everyday routine. Your baby is getting acquainted to this new place they are in. A gentle massage after a diaper change or at bath time is a wonderful way for baby to relax and bond with their parents. Your baby will use their sense of smell to help identify mommy and daddy from other visitors. For babies that have a difficult time sleeping in their crib or bassinet, try laying your baby on a shirt you have worn that day. The smell will comfort your baby and help them go to sleep.
Learning to Kick
If Scarlett is not interested in soccer, I will be VERY surprised. She was the most active baby in the womb and continues to keep me on my toes daily. Since the first day we came home from the hospital, those legs have not stopped moving! I never imagined having trouble keeping socks on a newborn. However, some babies are not as active as my little one was. If your little one needs some extra help learning to kick, try these activities during playtime.
- Rattle socks
- Attach high contrast or bright color balloons to your babies feet
- Attach tissue paper to a chair or side of the crib and encourage your baby to kick
These simple movements will help your baby with sensory development.
Have you noticed at each doctor appointment for your child, they ask how many times a week is your child read to? Scarlett is an early talker, not sure if that is good or bad, she has showed interest in talking since she was a few days old. Talking and reading to your child is so important. If you start reading to your child as a newborn, it helps them understand language, build social skills, improve concentration and memory. When you are talking to your child, try to talk directly to them and speak clearly. During playtime, you can include speech therapy to help your child learn to talk. Use picture books or pictures of family, point out familiar items to your child. Don’t be afraid to use baby talk, that is fine at this age.
Learning To Roll Over and Sit Up
The first time your child rolls over or sits up on their on is a very big moment in the world of motherhood. Tummy time is an important activity for your baby to do everyday, even if they hate it! Tummy time helps strengthen the neck muscle for better neck control and head support. This sensory development activity is not only important for when your baby starts to sit up, but also rolling over. With stronger neck muscles, your child will turn their head from side to side. To encourage further movements, place a toy just out of your babies reach and praise your child once they have rolled over to grasp it.
By six months old your baby may be able to sit up with assistance. Use a product that works best for you and your baby. I use a Bumbo seat for eating and a walker or exersaucer when I need my hands. I know some moms do not like to use a walker or exersaucer, but they have worked great for our family. A walker is a great sensory development activity, within the span of a month, Scarlett has started to run around the house and learned how to move around obstacles.
If you child is not hitting all of their milestones on time, that is ok. Everybody is different and will develop at different rates. It does not mean you are a bad parent or not spending enough time with your child. We are all doing our best to give our children the best possible life.