22 Fun Sensory Activities for Summer

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Looking for simple sensory activities to do with your baby this summer? Sometimes we just need new ideas for fun summer activities we can do with our baby. Warmer weather and longer days make for lots of outdoor and indoor fun sensory play time!

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Why Simple Sensory Activities Matter

Let’s be honest: in the first year of life, pretty much EVERY activity your baby engages in is a sensory activity. And that’s a good thing!

Much of a baby’s first months of life are learning about the world through their senses. They need to touch, smell, taste, feel, see and mouth all kinds of things in their environment to learn about their world and their developing bodies. Babies will mostly learn through observation, modeling and repetition.

Simple sensory activities play a vital role in their growth, as babies learn through observation, modeling, and repetition. By incorporating these activities into your daily routine, you can enhance your baby’s cognitive, physical, and emotional development.

For us adults, this can seem a little monotonous. Is my baby really stimulated by grabbing that same wooden ring toy and mouthing it over and over again? Am I doing everything I can if my baby just keeps cracking herself up in the mirror for the millionth time?

The good news is: this is probably really all the sensory input your baby needs at that time. If you want to expose your little one to new things or just want to switch things up to create new memories, here are 22 sensory activities for summer you can do with your 0-12-month-old.

And the best part is, most of them don’t require any gadgets or equipment!

No-gadget Sensory Activities for Summer

1. Go for a walk

Things can be as simple as putting baby in a carrier or grabbing the stroller and going for a walk around the neighborhood. Spice it up by going to the park, beach or on a hike if that’s available to you! Both you and your baby will love the fresh air and the exercise and babies love looking at the greenery, the sky and hearing birds or city sounds.

2. Be outside

If you have a backyard, this one is perfect for you. Simply grab a blanket or mat and lay with your baby. Your baby will be ultra-stimulated by the sights and sounds of the outdoors. There’s something about being outdoors that appeals to babies and also helps them snooze better at night. If you don’t have a backyard, try finding a nice park to spend some time at.

3. Tracking and Racing

Hold an item of interest (toy, food, picture, book, anything really) close to your baby’s face but slightly out of reach. Depending on their developmental stage, they will start tracking the item with their eyes and turn their head, or they might try to grab it, bat it or even start racing after it (crawlers and walkers! This is a fun activity to do on the floor, bed or on a lawn.

4. Naked time

Summer is the perfect time to let baby go nude and sense the world with their bare skin. You can simply place them on a blanket, indoors or outdoors in the shade or put them on a splash pad or baby pool filled with a little bit of water to cool down. Try disposable pads or waterproof blankets to keep accidental messes at bay.

5. Tummy time

This one is a classic as it’s so helpful for baby’s muscle development. Summer is the perfect time to switch it up and bring tummy time outside or onto new or different surfaces. Being in a different environment or setup might encourage your little one to spend more time on their tummy!

6. Practice a skill

Little learning to roll, crawl, sit, stand or walk? Giving your baby lots of time to practice the skill during the day, not only ensures that they will master it faster but it also might keep them from trying to practice at night. You can help by gently guiding your baby’s movement so they get a feeling of success or simply being close or propping them up in case they fall.

7. Play with household items

Ever gotten your baby a super cool new toy only to see them play with the TAG? Babies find all kinds of random things interesting, so pull out some wooden spoons, plastic cups, baskets or literally whatever you have available that’s safe for your baby to grab and mouth and watch them happily play with it!

8. Rough and tumble play

Rough and tumble play is so great for baby’s sense of vestibular motion (aka gravity or balance sense). You can lift your baby up in the air and gently throw them or swing them up and down or left to right. An older baby might also enjoy being thrown onto a mountain of pillows or being tickled and rolled around. So much fun for everyone!

9. Relax

One of my top sensory activities for the summer is to simply kick it back and RELAX. Your baby will love it, too. They can relax on a blanket or maybe a baby swing or hammock. Allowing your baby to be bored and do nothing is excellent practice for future independent play.

10. Face-to-Face Play

What cuter way to pass your time than to look at your little one’s adorable face? Practice speech development and facial expressions by being face-to-face with your baby and making grimaces or sounds. Your baby will soon try to replicate the sounds and facial expressions and might smile or frown, and even coo and form their first sounds!

11. Dancing

You do not need to be a professional dancer to dance with your baby. It’s a fun way of providing vestibular input to your baby and testing their muscles and balance. Simply hold your baby and bounce, sway or spin around, with or without music.

12. Reading

Remember all those adorable baby books you got that are getting dusty on a cute nursery shelf? Well, go grab them and read to your baby. Either read the book aloud to them, sitting face to face, or place baby in your lap or in front of you so you can look at and “read” the book together.

13. Storytelling

If reading isn’t your thing, maybe storytelling is? All you need is some imagination, a hook and off you go. Baby won’t mind listening to a nonsensical story but they will love listening to your voice and watching your face.

14. Singing

Singing to your baby is not only a delightful bonding activity but also a great way to engage their auditory senses. You don’t need to be a professional singer; your baby will enjoy the sound of your voice regardless. Choose lullabies, nursery rhymes, or your latest Taylor Swift favorite. Or just make up your own tune! My husband’s gotten very good over time at just rhyming random things to a melody he makes up on the fly.

15. Listen to Music

Apart from singing, you can introduce your baby to various genres of music. Play soft, calming melodies or upbeat tunes and observe how your baby reacts. They may start to move, wiggle, or even babble in response to the music. You can also make music with simple “instruments” you find around the house, such as a wooden spoon-cooking pot drum. Music can be a source of joy, relaxation, and stimulation for your little one.

16. Nature Play

Take advantage of the summer season and spend time in nature with your baby. Go to a local park, garden, beach or even your backyard. Let your baby explore the natural environment by touching the grass, leaves, and flowers, and feeling the breeze on their skin. Nature provides a multitude of sensory experiences that can captivate your baby’s curiosity and foster a connection with the natural world.

17. Mirror Play

Babies are fascinated by their own reflection, and mirror play can be a simple yet captivating activity. Situate a baby-safe mirror in front of your little one and watch as they interact with their own image. Encourage them to make different facial expressions, reach out to touch the mirror, or engage in “conversations” with their reflection. Mirror play helps develop self-awareness and visual tracking skills.

18. Water Play

Water play is a fantastic sensory activity for the summer months. Fill a shallow basin or a baby pool with water and let your baby splash and explore. You can introduce different water toys, such as cups, sponges, or rubber ducks, to enhance the experience. The sensation of water on their skin, the sound of splashing, and the opportunity to play and explore buoyancy all contribute to a fun and stimulating sensory experience.

19. Play with Fabric

Gather an assortment of soft fabrics with different textures, colors, and patterns. Offer these fabrics to your baby for tactile exploration. They can feel the different textures, crinkle the fabric, or rub it against their skin. You can also create peek-a-boo games by covering your face or objects with the fabric and revealing them to your baby. This activity engages the sense of touch and encourages sensory exploration.

20. Baby Giggles

Laughter is contagious, and babies’ giggles are truly delightful. Engage in playful interactions with your baby, tickling them, making funny noises, or playing peek-a-boo. Your baby’s laughter not only signifies enjoyment but also stimulates their senses and releases endorphins, promoting a positive emotional connection.

21. Baby Massage

Massaging your baby is a wonderful way to provide soothing touch and stimulate their senses. Use gentle, rhythmic strokes on their arms, legs, back, and tummy. You can use baby-safe oils or lotions to enhance the massage experience. Massage helps promote relaxation, improves circulation, and strengthens the bond between you and your baby.

22. Explore Cold Foods

Introduce your baby to new tastes and sensations by offering them chilled or frozen foods. You can give them pieces of frozen fruit in a Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder, a chilled water teether, or a cold washcloth for them to explore and mouth. This is one of my favorite sensory activities for summer as the cold temperature provides a unique sensory experience, can help soothe teething discomfort and provides a welcome relief from relentless summer heat!

Have fun!

The early months are crucial for your baby’s development and there are many simple sensory activities for summer to keep your little one stimulated and thriving throughout the warmer months. Enjoy your summer and create lasting memories!

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About The Author

Julia Billings

Hi, I'm Julia! I am a working mother, matricentric life, career & business coach, ex-international HR expert, and motherhood studies practitioner. In my work as a coach, consultant and facilitator, I help other moms tackle negative emotions such as guilt, fear, anger, and overwhelm and create a roadmap for their lives, businesses and/or careers, so they can mother with confidence and focus on family life first.

My approach integrates my experience as an international career & leadership development professional, my personal journey as a mother, and my certifications as a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), Motherhood Studies Practitioner, and a Master's in Education.

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