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Jul 28, 2023 4 min read

Sensory Activities for Infants in Daycare

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury
Baby plays with playdough as a sensory activity

As infants grow, their senses play a vital role in shaping their understanding of the world. That’s why it’s important that child care sensory activities for infants stimulate their senses and promote cognitive development. 

By catering to their senses, early childhood education programs can play a pivotal role in laying the foundation for a child’s lifelong love for learning and understanding the world around them.

Much of our learning comes through our ability to use our senses to retain information.

Sensory activities offer many benefits for child development, including helping children understand how their actions affect what’s around them as well as supporting brain development, enhancing memory, complex tasks and problem solving.

Let’s take a look at a range of sensory ideas for infants in daycare that will encourage their curiosity and foster essential neural connections.


Tactile experiences are crucial for infants as they begin to understand texture, temperature and different materials. Early childhood education centers can incorporate tactile activities such as:

  • Texture boards: Creating texture boards with various fabrics like silk, wool and cotton allows infants to explore different tactile sensations.
  • Sensory bags: Filling zip-lock bags with colored gel, beads or sand, offers a mess-free tactile experience that stimulates their fingers.
  • Play with edible materials: Introducing safe edible materials like cooked pasta or soft fruits enables them to explore textures through touch and taste.
  • Go outside: Taking babies outside to let them feel parts of nature such as trees or flowers gives them a sense of new textures, both rough and soft.

2. Visual Stimulation

Visual stimulation aids in developing an infant’s focus and visual tracking abilities. Daycare centers can incorporate these activities:

  • Mobiles and mirrors: Hanging colorful mobiles and using child-safe mirrors helps infants focus and discover their reflections.
  • Visual art: Displaying bright and contrasting images or art on walls can catch infants’ attention and spark their curiosity.
  • Light shows: Using projectors or glow-in-the-dark toys during quiet times can create captivating visual displays.

3. Auditory Exploration

Teacher plays a musical instrument as a sensory activity with an infant.

Sound plays a crucial role in an infant’s cognitive development. Child care centers can provide a rich auditory environment with activities like:

  • Music and rhythm: Playing gentle, soothing music or introducing musical instruments like shakers, drums and xylophones can encourage rhythmic exploration.
  • Storytelling and rhymes: Engage infants with storytelling, nursery rhymes and soft-spoken words fosters language development and listening skills.
  • Nature sounds: Allow infants to experience natural sounds like birds chirping or raindrops falling to create a calming and stimulating environment.

4. Gustatory Experiences

Baby drinks from a cup as a sensory activity.

While child care centers need to be cautious with food-related activities, introducing safe taste experiences can be enjoyable:

  • Infant-friendly snacks: Offering small tastes of baby-friendly foods like mashed fruits or soft vegetables can introduce new flavors.
  • Infused water play: Infuse water with mild fruit flavors such as strawberries and oranges inside safe cups so infants can explore taste through play.

5. Olfactory Adventures

The sense of smell plays a significant role in triggering memories and emotions. Your daycare center can incorporate simple scent-based sensory activities:

  • Scented playdough: Using scented playdough can offer a multi-sensory experience in which infants can touch, smell and explore colors simultaneously.
  • Aromatherapy: Using safe and mild aromatherapy scents in the daycare environment can create a calming and pleasant atmosphere.

6. Gross Motor Sensations

Infant does tummy time as a sensory activity.

Infants need opportunities to develop their gross motor skills and spatial awareness. Daycare centers can provide activities that promote these skills:

  • Tummy time: Allocating supervised tummy time helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Soft play zones: Creating safe spaces with padded materials allows infants to crawl, roll and explore without any fear of injury.

How Procare Can Help!

Curriculum with activities for babies helps them achieve milestones.

Incorporating sensory ideas into daycare centers allows infants to engage with their environment actively, helping them build essential cognitive connections and supporting their overall development. And check out this blog for more activities targeted to the senses for infants and toddlers!

These sensory experiences enrich their early learning journey and create a stimulating atmosphere for exploration.

Activities that are developmentally appropriate are an important part of an early childhood education curriculum. That’s why Procare Solutions teamed up with Learning Beyond Paper, Inc, the leader in digital curriculum, to offer early educators a tool they’ve been waiting for — a fully online curriculum program tailored to child care centers.

Procare Early Learning powered by Learning Beyond Paper is an all-digital curriculum specifically designed to meet the unique needs of educating children from infancy through pre-kindergarten.
The integration with Procare makes this curriculum easy to use. New content, training and tools arrive automatically! And its saves hours of time each week, which in turn saves your center money.

Want to see how much time and money a digital curriculum could save your center? Learn your potential personalized savings by entering some information about your program into this online calculator!

Discover strategies, tools and best practices to propel your child care business to new heights

Discover strategies, tools and best practices to propel your child care business to new heights

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury