Four Senses Sensory Fun

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Today, Veronika and I engaged nearly all five of her senses with easy games. Can you spot which sense we missed?

Touch:

Instead of presenting Veronika with something to feel in her hands, it was time to kick with her feet! Tape a piece of tissue paper up on a wall, and lie your baby comfortably on his or her back.

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Baby won’t need any instruction before kicking away!

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Veronika seemed startled by the different position, but soon was busily kicking her feet. This one is also great for the sense of hearing, since the tissue makes fantastic crinkles.

And okay, she wanted to have at the tissue with her hands once upright.

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Sight:

To make a sight sensory bottle, I filled an empty water bottle with bold visuals: cut up plastic straws and bright pieces of Lego fit the bill.

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Fill until about 3/4 full with water. You can twist on the cap securely, or hot glue for added safety.

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Veronika loved rolling this one along the ground!

Sound:

To make a sound sensory bottle, I chose clickity clackaty items. Dried “little ears” pasta were perfect (though the double-meaning was lost on Veronika), as were plastic craft beads and a few buttons. Dried rice or beans would work well too!

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This one she loved shaking, especially if I sang a few lines of a favorite melody.

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Smell:

Break out the tea bags! I presented Veronika with an assortment of tea, all quite strongly scented: peppermint, chamomile, raspberry (or any other fruity blend) and ginger all fit the bill.

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Be careful, because her inclination was to grab the bags and taste, but I made sure these only made it as far as her nose.

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Some she seemed to enjoy, and others got a very confused reaction!

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So which sense did we forget? No tasting this time around!

Exploring the Night Sky

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It can feel funny sometimes to teach a baby about celestial objects – the stars, the moon, planets – because they are rarely awake to see nighttime! Especially here in the summer, Veronika is asleep long before stars come out or the moon shines.

If your child also sleeps before dark, have fun pointing out these night objects in books instead! Today, instead of reading the words, I sang star and moon poems as we turned each page of a favorite book.

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When we came to a star, I pointed and sang:

Twinkle twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are.

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are.

And here’s a rhyme to go with the moon page:

I see the moon

And the moon sees me

As is floats so high

Over mommy and me

I see the stars

And the stars see me

As they shine in the sky

Over Daddy and me

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You can also point out stars wherever you may have them around the house. Veronika is transfixed by our nightlight.

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We tried going outside just before bedtime, but the sky was indeed still light.

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But then wouldn’t you know it; an unusually fussy bedtime had Veronika up later than usual, and look what was peeking at us just before she slept.

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Meanwhile, we’ll wait for the impending shorter days of autumn and winter, when I can truly take her out to marvel at these wonders of the night sky.

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Laundry in the Fast Lane

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It’s getting harder to keep Veronika entertained while I do laundry,┬áso today I upped the ante; instead of seating her next to me with her own laundry center, I put her right in the laundry basket!

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She instantly was intrigued with her new surroundings. To keep her occupied, I dropped in easy, small items – baby socks, washcloths – and soon she was playing happily with them.

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Next I played a game of peekaboo, draping a small hand towel over her head and asking, “where’s Veronika?”

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I lifted the towel for a big reveal: there she is! She loved this one.

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Now it was time to turn the laundry basket into a car.

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I zoomed her around, including back and forth to the dryer to check on a load, and announced “Pit stop!” when we came to a stop. These words got a giggle every time.

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One note of caution: big siblings are going to think this looks so fun that they’ll want a turn! Needless to say, this is one way to take the drudgery out of laundry.

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Create a Sensory Tunnel

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Today, with big brother off to kindergarten (!), I had time for a bigger project than usual with Veronika. Using two old moving boxes from the garage, I opened up all the flaps and then nested them slightly one inside the other to form one long tunnel.

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Hmm, the box was intriguing, but Veronika didn’t head inside just yet.

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Next I poked three holes along the top. I stuffed in three socks, all with different patterns. One sock I left empty, one I stuffed with newspaper for a crinkly effect, and one had a musical rattle inside.

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Interestingly, the empty sock was her favorite. She loved trying to catch it and tug on it.

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She seemed quite determined to pull it all the way from the box, and was amazed every time it sprang back into place (Note: you can knot the socks at the top if needed, to keep them secure).

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I placed a few tantalizing toys inside (balls, cars), and finally that did the trick. In she goes!

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She looked absolute thrilled with her surroundings once inside, her own little fort! If you want, you could even make windows, but my boxes were a bit floppy and I skipped that step so that the tunnel didn’t cave in.

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She did also try lying on her back to kick at the socks, but preferred sitting up to play.

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What a fantastic morning of fun!

Pudding Painting

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Veronika is almost old enough to start making her first works of art, but there’s one problem with this girl: everything goes in her mouth! The solution, if your baby is the same, is edible paint.

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Today, I whipped up a batch of vanilla pudding (Whole Foods 365 is vegan). Let the pudding chill in the fridge, then add food coloring for “paint” colors.

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I gave Veronika a paint brush, which instantly made her look so proud; she’s seen big brother paint, and now it was her turn.

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Turn a little of the pudding paint out onto a highchair tray (or tape down paper, if you prefer) and let your little artist go to town.

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First she just made a few smears. Then she wanted to focus more on the paintbrush. Once the tip of it got in her mouth and she discovered the pudding was yummy…

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…her smile was priceless. Then she really got her hands into the mix.

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I showed her how to make circles and squares, plus a few letters.

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Soon we had green, where or blue and yellow “paints” had mixed.

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This was a fantastic foray into the world of art, as she nears 10 months old!

 

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Sticky Toys

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This cute game is a great way to test your baby’s “strength”. Veronika seemed to go wild for the slight effort involved, or perhaps just for the novelty of the way the toys were presented.

Use sticky contact paper or double-sided tape to cover part of the surface of a piece of cardboard.

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Arrange a few soft toys along the sticky surface and present to your little one. She immediately trotted over with interest.

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First Veronika seemed the most curious about the cardboard itself. She wanted to pick up the whole thing and wave it around.

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Then she seemed to become aware of the toys. I showed her how to lift one up – with a bit of effort – and stick it back on again. Note: You’ll notice that it helped to hold the cardboard in place for her with my feet!

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She was delighted when she gave a pull to ducky…

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…and was all grins for her big success one it was in her hands.

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In sum, an easy game that can entertain your baby for quite a while.

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Tube Talk

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Sometimes the best games with babies require only the simplest tools; to wit, this adorable little activity for which you only need an empty toilet paper roll or two!

I spoke through one and called out Veronika’s name, and she eagerly trotted over. This was something she had to come see.

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I held the tube up to her ear and whispered a few words. She turned her head eager to see where the sound was coming from!

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Of course she wanted to hold one immediately. She babbled down into it, which changed the sound of her vocalizations somewhat.

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And of course nibbled on it.

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Finally, I held the tube against the bare skin of her arm and spoke into it, which meant my warm breath reached her skin. There were lots of giggles for that one!

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Develop Your Baby’s Taste Buds

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Veronika seems bored of the foods I’ve given her in varying combinations for the past few months. Today, it was time to test her taste buds! Some of these suggestions were items I wouldn’t have thought for a nine-month-old, but it turns out she could chew them just fine and loved quite a few!

The idea was to pair contrasts; think: something sweet with something savory, or something soft with something crunchy. This will help your baby discern differences in tastes and texture.

First we paired kiwi with Tofurky slices.

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The Tofurky was an instant hit! She ate nearly an entire slice. Kiwi she seemed confused by, perhaps too strongly citric.

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Next up was mango and Daiya cheddar cheese. Cheese, another food I wouldn’t have thought of this young, was also a huge hit.

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Then she nibbled happily on the mango for a while after.

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Finally, I paired a soft banana date square from a vegan bakery with a crunchy apple slice.

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She loved both, and had one in each fist for a while, alternating bites.

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In sum, this was a delightful taste test that expanded baby and mama’s sense of edible possibilities.

Baby Pull-Ups

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Veronika will not be contained these days! Not only is she crawling everywhere now, but this girl wants to stand.

Encouraging pull-ups is a great first step towards helping your baby stand, cruise, and walk. To help Veronika, today I placed toys up as tantalizing bait on the couch. She still needs a little boost…

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…but once she’s up she can stand and support her weight and play with the toys as a reward.

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She also loves putting the toys back up on the couch herself.

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This activity works equally well on any surface that is about chest-high on your baby, although be careful with hard surfaces like tables that have sharp corners.

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It won’t be long though before she’s pulling up solo!

Summer Water with Baby

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Recently, I posted a round-up of fun field trips to take with the under-one-year-old set before the summer is out. Here’s a second round-up featuring a few water-centered ideas that – yes! – you can do with a baby.

Turn on the sprinkler:

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This is an easy one! Just head out to your yard or driveway, and set a sprinkler going. Bonus points for silly ones! Just dipping in baby’s toes is sure to elicit laughter or surprised little squeals.

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Find a water fountain:

Many parks have pretty fountains, which you can stop off at after a walk or playground play. In addition to being fun just to watch (splashy water!) you can quickly dip in baby’s toes for a cool off on a hot day.

Hit the beach:

I was worried about Veronika eating fistfuls of sand, so avoided the beach for much of the summer. But it turns out there’s a way to take even an everything-in-the-mouth nine-month-old to the beach safely.

First, bring shade. You’ll still want to slather your little one with sunscreen, but a large umbrella offers extra protection.

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Don’t forget to pack wipes, swim diapers, a change of dry diaper and clothes, plastic bags (for trash or wet clothing), and a nice sunhat.

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And toys!

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Beaches are the perfect place for a nap, so don’t worry about baby missing out on key shut-eye.

Once she was awake, first she wanted to play on a big beach towel.

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Then we took Veronika down to the water’s edge. Choose a beach with gentle water, whether that means a harbor, sound, lake, or other sandy stretch with few to no waves. She could happily sit and let the tiny waves lap at her toes.

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She did like digging her hands into the water and sand, but she only tried one nibble, which I easily diverted.

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In sum, I have no more fear about babies and beaches!

How have you and your baby played with water this summer? Please share in the comments!