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More play ideas for babies

A range of play ideas, which promote sensory experiences, motor skill development as well as cognitive development.

Finger painting

  • Make taste-safe finger paint: Mix 4 tbsps flour with enough water to make a thick paste, add 1 cup boiling water and stir. Heat gently while stirring until it thickens (it should have the consistency of custard). Separate into several containers and add food colouring to make different colours. Cool completely. This finger paint will store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Obstacle courses

  • Make a soft obstacle course using cushions, towels and blankets (for a variety of textures) and hide some soft toys underneath for your baby to discover.
  • Create a tunnel out of a cardboard box opened at two ends. Make holes in the ‘roof’ and hang colourful scarves, ribbons and even pairs of tights for a more sensory experience.

Sorting and stacking

  • Encourage sorting with a muffin tray and/or egg box and some small items to fit in them. Try kitchen roll cylinders cut into smaller tubes, pom-poms, pine cones, pegs…
  • Seek out nesting objects – for example you might have measuring cups, or metal bowls that stack in your kitchen. These can be fun to take apart, turn upside down, bang together, and try to restack.

Sensory activities

  • Make smelling jars with baby food jars. Put a few drops of essential oils, food essences or perfumes on a piece of cotton wool in each jar, and use a hammer and nail to make a few holes in the lid.


  • Play with mirrors and anything reflective you have in your home, such as a shiny spoon or metal bowl. Play peek-a-boo.

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our ECE webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our ECE research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.

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