Do you ever wonder why everything ends up in the mouth of your little one? Or why it seems like a bath is needed after almost every mealtime? Young children learn about their world by exploring it with their senses. They touch, taste, smell and experience it with their whole body.

Why Sensory Play?

Sensory play can provide a great opportunity for attachment and bonding, which is often created by touch.

  • Rubbing lotion while smiling and talking to your child.
  • Splashing in a warm bath and playing peek-a-boo with a wet wash cloth
  • Laughing together as you finger paint on their high chair trays with spaghetti sauce, cool whip…or anything spreadable!

Sensory play is an excellent way to promote language development as you label and describe actions, sensations, and your child’s response.

  • Descriptive words (adjectives): cold/hot, wet/dry, smooth/bumpy, hard/squishy, etc.
  • Action words (verbs): squeezing, wiping, eating, touching, smelling, etc.
  • Labeling reactions: “You’re smiling. You like the feel of the cold jello” or “Your face tells me that the lemon is too sour”

Sensory play is easy to do at home with materials you already have around the house. Here are some things that might be hiding in your cupboards just waiting to be used as a sensory experience for your child!

  • Hide some plastic animals inside a bin or container with rice or dry beans and let your child use their hands to search for the hidden animals
  • Place cooked and/or uncooked spaghetti on their high chair trays. Listen to the sound of the dried pasta breaking.

Another fun way to incorporate sensory exploration into your child’s play is by reading books that have textures they can touch and feel. Here are some of our favorites!


Little Hands Love by Piggie Toes Press


That’s Not My Puppy by Fiona Watt


Fuzzy Fuzzy Fuzzy! by Sandra Boynton


Tails by Matthew Van Fleet



Spot’s Touch & Feel Day by Eric Hill


If I Were an Owl by Anne Wilkinson