When it comes to playtime with babies, not only should it be fun but babies should learn and explore at the same time. This helps to develop their budding imagination while working on motor skills, dexterity, and coordination, as well as strengthening cognitive development all at the same time. And while there are toys that can be purchased to help this happen, there are likely items already around the house that infants would find to be more entertaining still. As such, something as simple as a muffin tin can be used to create sensory activities for babies.
No matter how excited parents may be by the newest gadget or toy that claims to enhance the imagination or development of babies, little ones find more joy in playing with or in the box that the item came in. This should indicate to parents that new and shiner does not always mean better. Keeping things simple is all that is needed for babies to learn about the world around them while honing their strength and skills. And this more often than not can be done without purchasing a thing.
Here are some sensory muffin tin activities for babies.
10 Painter’s Tape Escape
To work infants’ fine motor skills, all that is needed is some squishy bath toys, some painter’s tape, and a muffin tin. Then let the fun begin!
In order to free the bath toys from the muffin tins, babies will have to peel the painter’s tape off of the tin. This not only challenges little one’s patience but challenges their smaller muscles as well. This is important, according to Petit, because fine motor skills will be used for things like hand-eye coordination, picking up small objects, being independent, learning to color and write, and a whole host of other skills as babies get older.
9 Put The Ball In The Tin
Babies are still learning to pick up items up and put them in one designated spot. A great way to work on this skill is to put ball pit balls into muffin tins.
Because the balls are easier to grasp, babies can pick them up with ease. The challenge will come from babies trying to place the balls into the muffin tin holes, that with practice, they will become more proficient with.
8 Sort The Sponges
Babies are too young to sort colorful sponges by matching colors with like colors. However, they can begin to place one colorful sponge in one spot of the muffin tin so that each sponge has its own spot.
Not only are babies learning how to sort out with this activity, they are also working on their pincer grasp. This is important, according to WebMD because babies when have mastered this skill, it is a fine motor milestone achieved. It is the foundation for being able to do more complex motor skills that will be necessary for when little ones enter into elementary school.
7 Tong The Pom Poms
Moving smaller objects like pom poms from one location to the other can be difficult for babies to do. But if they have mastered moving these fluffy, squishy objects with their fingers, moving on to using tongs increases the difficulty.
For some babies, their hand strength is not quite enough to be able to use tongs. As such, using a spoon or scoop may be a better intermediate step to use to move pom poms from their piles to the individual muffin tin cups.
6 Play-Doh Fun
One of the most popular sensory items to use is playdough. Therefore, put a different color in each muffin tin cup and let babies have some fun.
If just squishing the Play-Doh is not enough excitement for babies, including some toys in the mix for them to cover with the Play-Doh or use plastic animals to create animal tracks can be done. It all depends on the age and where babies are developmentally that will determine what they can do with the Play-Doh.
5 Ice Cube Colors
A fun way to explore with color and different temperatures is to paint with ice cubes.
Not only will babies get to see the different colors that the ice cubes are to be visually stimulated, holding the ice cubes will let them see the difference between hot and cold. And with the ice cubes leaving behind beautiful colors as they melt, infants will have a wonderful time moving them around on paper to bring out their inner artist.
4 Feed The Zoo Animals
If babies have a group of play zoo animals, or any animals for that matter, they can feed them. All little ones need is some different items of varying textures to feed each animal.
What babies learn when they are feeding the animals is how each different textured items feels in their hand. This can be anything from cotton balls, glass beads, beans, and more. But the smaller the items are, the more supervision is needed to make sure that babies do not put the items in their mouths. This is because they could be a choking hazard.
Babies are also working on their empathy skills. If a creature is hungry, wanting to take away that hunger and make the animal feel better is learned. And while babies are only starting to learn what empathy is around three and a half months old, according to ParentingSciencethis can help develop the understanding of what people are thinking and feeling through play.
3 Shape Rubber Band Escape
An activity that is extremely simple to do is also one that will keep babies entertained for long stretches. That is helping shapes escape from muffin tins.
Babies are working on their problem-solving skills with this activity as well as their motor skills. And with the shapes likely being different colors of wood, plastic, or even felt, there are different textures to feel while freeing the shapes from beneath the rubber band confines of the muffin tin.
2 Toy Food Identification
When it comes to learning to identify different foods, placing toy food into the muffin tin cups helps babies to identify what foods are. This is because with repetition, they will be able to point to the foods when asked what they are before they reach their first birthday.
According to Therapies for Kids, babies are able to point to and identify what an object is around nine months of age. And with the toy food being textured to boot, it is a well-rounded sensory activity, indeed.
1 Milk Bottle Lid Drop
Another way to use the pincer grasp is to take milk bottle lids and have babies place one lid into each muffin tin cup until the cups are full.
With the lids being different colors, babies are visually stimulated while feeling the grooves that are in the lids when placing them in their designated spots. And as babies age, they can begin to sort the lids by color, shape, and size to make the activity more difficult.
Source: Petit, WebMD, ParentingScience, Therapies for Kids
10 DIY Sensory Activities to Stimulate Your Toddler’s Development