Last week we wrote about our top tips on sensory play for younger babies, and this week we want to share some ideas for older babies up to 12 months. By the age of around six months, your baby should be learning to sit up and will also be able to reach out and hold on to toys too. Many babies have also started to explore new foods around this time too, so tasting opens up even more possibilities in your play. Now that your baby is able to engage with the world around him/ her in a different way, it’s time to introduce new ways to play!
Suggestions for sensory play at 6-12 months
- Food is a wonderful new material to play with! If you’re weaning, try letting your baby explore new foods, tastes and textures independently. You’ll notice that most things go straight to the mouth anyway, so this stage of weaning is always a lot of fun! Don’t be afraid to use food in your play too, but make sure that whatever you use it safe for your baby’s stage of development and always supervise closely.
- Music. You may have already noticed that your baby loves to listen to music and singing and musical toys are really wonderful at this age. As your baby can now hold toys and manipulate them independently, now is a great time to introduce rattles and simple musical instruments (under supervision). We love the Haba Clutching toy Click Clack rattle and the Lilliputens Liz rattle and squeaker but your baby will also love things you have around the house too. Pop some pans and wooden spoons into the play space and watch your baby create their own music now and then!
- Lights. Another wonderful way to enhance sensory play for babies. If you have toys that light up, watch how your baby reacts to them. Take care that lights don’t shine directly into the eyes, but do let baby explore independently.
Toys that enhance sensory play at 6-12 months
There are so many toys we could choose and it’s been really hard to narrow it down to fit into one post! Please do search on the site by age range as only you will know what toys will appeal to your baby’s personality. But here are some of our favourite, tried and tested sensory toys for older babies.
Colourful toys appeal to baby’s vision and clutching toys help with hand to eye co-ordination and gross motor skills. We love the new Haba Clutching magic rolling toy and the Haba clutching magic triangles toy too. These are both new for 2014. On the theme of colour, we also love the Haba rainbow clutching toy– a classic wooden toy that’s perfect from 6 months old.
Water play is another way to engage slightly older babies and this can be done at bath time. Babies love to explore the sensory elements of water and you may have already noticed that your little one loves to splash in the bath tub. This is good! Make the most of bath time with toys that are specially designed for this. We love the Green Toys Stacking Nesting cups for water play but really you can add anything to the bath to make it fun. Cups, bottles, sieves etc make great bath toys- just don’t fill the bath too full!
Musical instruments may require a bit of help, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce them to baby now. Always supervise closely when you use toys that are intended for older babies, or use them yourself to entertain baby. We love the Lilliputen musical balloon and teething ring for all ages.
Mirrors are a super way to engage babies, especially as they start to experiment with reflections and facial expressions. There are some really lovely ways to play with mirrors, but mostly you may notice that your baby just loves to look at themselves! This is perfectly normal and it will be some time before they recognise themselves in the mirror. Great toys to use for mirror play include the Lilliputens Oscar mini crab baby rattle with mirror and the Nicky discovery duck toy.
Sensory play is a wondeful way to engage your baby and a chance for you to learn a little more about their character too. Watch closely for indications of toys they enjoy and take time to incorporate those toys into daily play sessions. What is your little one’s favourite toy at the moment?