Sensory Play Ideas During Mealtimes
5 min read
When weaning your little one, sensory play at mealtimes can be a fantastic way of making eating more fun while encouraging healthy growth and development, both physically and mentally.
Here we share some ideas of how sensory play can be incorporated into mealtimes to keep baby engaged throughout the weaning process while developing their sense of coordination as part of baby-led weaning.
Remember, introducing sensory play at mealtimes will be a messy business, but it will be worth it! Just stay patient and use a plastic sheet on the floor and food-catching bibs to reduce waste.
Why is Sensory Play Important for Babies?
Sensory play is an important part of your little one’s development. By exploring with different textures, movements and actions, babies can practice problem-solving skills and develop their feelings of curiosity and creativity. Through sensory play, nerve connections in the brain are built and reinforced, helping your little one to learn and improve language and motor skills.
If you’re serving baby mashed or pureed foods, then spoon a serving into a ziploc plastic bag alongside a serving to taste. Baby will have hours of fun squishing the food around the bag, which allows them to feel the different textures in a less messy way.
A great way to develop this activity as baby grows is to draw shapes on the exterior of the bag and add more solid items to the puree. Baby can then be tasked with squishing the solid pieces into areas that you have drawn on the bag. This type of activity can be very beneficial for your little one’s development of coordination skills.
A simple sensory play activity that allows baby to get creative while exploring textures. All you need is purees of different colours and a flat surface on which baby can ‘paint’, such as a plastic mat or large sheet of paper.
Using their hands (or a paintbrush if you’d prefer it to be a little less messy), encourage your little one to try out creating different shapes, patterns and pictures using the puree as their paint.
Sensory boxes provide an endless array of food-related play. All you need is a plastic box or tray that you fill with a certain food that offers an exciting and imaginative sensory play time.
For example, a box of breadcrumbs or oats can be used like sand – try adding in some toy vehicles to be driven around the box or a digger to scoop up the oats. A forest of broccoli florets can be accompanied by some toy dinosaur friends for an imaginative playtime. Cooked spaghetti or pasta shapes also make great additions to a sensory box playtime.
Using firmer veggies like carrots and peppers, cut interesting shapes into the vegetables to be used as stampers. You can use small cookie cutters to help get a more precise shape. Accompany the stampers with a puree that baby can use to stamp the shapes onto paper to create a fun pattern.
This encourages creativity and helps your little one to develop motor control and coordination through the actions of holding and stamping with the veggies.
There are many more ways you can incorporate sensory play into mealtimes. If you have any ideas of how to make weaning more fun, creative and educational, then we’d love to hear your suggestions! Get in touch with us over on our Facebook or Instagram pages, and be sure to follow for more ideas from us too!