Once your baby enters the "put everything in the mouth" phase, it can be tempting to disregard any small objects (toys or household items) as toys. And, as much as I hate to say it - for most kids this phase lasts into toddlerhood! But with a simple change in strategy, you can continue to let your little one safely explore a wide variety of items of ALL shapes and sizes - with close supervision, of course.
The Benefits of Sensory Bags
I've used sensory bags with children in my work as an Occupational Therapist, so I figured I would try them with our nearly-four-month-old. Let's just say his mind was blown. He drooled on, slapped and pushed on the bag for a good 10+ minutes each day for the better part of a week.
And this child development nerd mommy was happy to see him visually scanning the contents of the bag, reaching for them, feeling new sensations through his palms and fingers (learn why this is so important), maintaining his attention and reaping all the benefits of Tummy Time.
Making A Sensory Bag
To make a sensory bag, you'll need a sturdy gallon-sized freezer bag (or two if you want to double up for extra peace of mind), in some cases some sort of thick fluid to fill the bag, and small items for baby to look at and touch. Optional - wide tape to tape the sides of the bag to prevent leaks and/or to tape the bag to the floor for Tummy Time.
Hair Gel Sensory Bag
Create a simple sensory bag filled with a large container of the cheapest generic colored hair gel you can find at the drugstore. Mmmmm...smells great, doesn't it? Toss a few small toys into the bag with the gel but make sure to select toys that aren't pointy so they don't rip the bag (or poke your little one). I just happened to have some big plastic buttons which added some nice high-contrast colors.
Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as you can and then seal it. Double check that it's sealed. And then triple check. And possibly duct tape the top of the bag. Then tape the bag down to smooth flooring for Tummy Time fun! Taping the bag to the floor is optional but since my little guy was cutting teeth, I felt like that would preserve the activity and keep him from "going gopher" and ripping the bag open.
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