The average adult may not even realise how frequently he uses his five senses, but infants and toddlers are just starting to learn how useful these senses can be. Sensory activities help young children learn how to process and understand the world. Completing sensory activities with your child can also help you bond as you introduce him to new sensations.
The great outdoors are filled with sights, sounds, surfaces and smells that will interest any baby or toddler, so take children outside on a warm day. Take off their shoes and let them walk in grass and dirt. Hold a baby in a standing position so she can feel these sensations. Let children touch whatever safe surfaces you can find in your yard, such as tree bark, rocks or flower petals. As a child touches each one, name a descriptive word for its texture, such as "rough" or "smooth."
Many young children are picky eaters, but introducing them to a variety of textures, tastes and smells can help children become comfortable with new foods. Set out one food at a time and let children experiment with touching and tasting it. Start with creamy foods, such as applesauce or mashed potatoes. For toddlers who have teeth, move on to soft foods, such as bread or berries. Finish by passing out crunchy foods, such as pretzels and carrots.
Creating sensory artwork gives children a chance to experience different sensations, and you get a masterpiece that will always remind you of their childhood. Before beginning any sensory art project, change children into old clothes and put art smocks on them. Spread out washable paint on a table and let children experiment with moving their hands in the paint. They may also use their feet to touch the paint. Help children press their hand and foot prints onto paper. Young children may also enjoy pressing and rolling out play dough and clay.
Many young children find music comforting. Rhythms can also engage infants and toddlers, helping them feel music while they hear it. Combine multiple sensory experiences at once by using movement and music at the same time. Hold and rock children while you play slow, classical music. Switch to faster-paced music with a strong beat and bounce children on your lap. Encourage toddlers to clap along, or use your own hands to clap an infant's hands together with the beat.