Autumn can initially feel like a challenging time with a new baby, the darker mornings and evenings. The colder days, and the impending feeling that you just want to shut yourself in from it all. But it’s time to look at Autumn as a fresh start, an exciting season. The crunchy leaves. The autumnal colours. Those fresh, crisp mornings. The wildlife. Hot chocolates. Cosy cafe visits. Cute autumnal baby clothing. New experiences as a family. Cosy nights in.
There really is plenty to look forward to in the Autumn and with so many changes happening in the natural world at this time as it prepares for winter, it is the optimum time for sensory activities for baby.
We take a look at some of the fun and exciting Autumn sensory activities that your baby will just love!
Autumn Sensory Activities For Early Years
Those beautiful autumnal leaves are one of natures finest playgrounds, they provide so many sensory and craft activities from baby to beyond. A simple sensory game can be with collating a handful of crunchy leaves in different colours.
The bright colours will engage baby, whilst being able to touch and feel the leaves will give them an all new experience of the textures and the crisp sound as their fingers fall over the leaves.
2. Pumpkin Carving
Okay, so we don’t mean the actual carving of the pumpkin! We’re talking about the juicy insides of those pumpkins once they have been cut open.
The insides of the pumpkin are usually disposed of but again, the innards of the pumpkin make for one of the most wonderful sensory activities for baby. Touch and feel is at the cornerstone of babies senses. It’s how they learn and get a feel for the world around them.
Once you have carved the pumpkin, scoop out the inside and put them into a bowl. Direct babies hands into the bowl to feel it! What we love about this activity is that the innards of pumpkins provide so many different sensations.
It’s wet, squelchy, soft, slimy – it’s all of the good stuff that will pique your babies curiosity as they start feeling around.
3. Autumn Sensory Bin
Create a really great sensory hour for baby with an Autumn sensory bin!
Grab a basket, box or small bucket and fill it with a mixture of different objects that have different textures, feelings, create different sounds. It will provide your baby with an incredible amount of sensory time to aid development. Fill it up with just a few things such as;
- Crunchy autumnal leaves
- Pumpkin innards
- A foil emergency blanket (trust us on this one!)
- A munchkin pumpkin
- Marshmallows – so soft, don’t let them try them though!
- Pine cones
- Pom poms
4. Autumn Bubble Foam
You’ll need to direct baby carefully for this one, but it can be a lot of fun! Get a small bowl and add some bubbles, you can get this from the excess on top of using washing up liquid in water.
You want it bubbly, not lots of excess water. Once the bowl is full of bubbles, simply add in some leaves. Baby will love feeling their way through the bubbles and grabbing those leaves when they find them!
5. Apple Sensory Fun for Little Ones
Apples aren’t just for eating! They provide a number of sensory activities for children from apple tasting to apple-scented play dough and apple-scented sensory bags.
The best bit? They’re affordable and easy to recreate as most people will have an apple or two lying around at home.
6. Autumn Scented Playdough Recipes for Babies
Playdough is one of kids favorite sensory activities, but as Autumn approaches, add some fun scents so baby can learn new smells and have fun!
Creating scented playdough with autumn-inspired scents like cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or apple cider is a fun and easy sensory activity for babies. Here’s a simple recipe to make scented playdough for sensory exploration:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Food coloring (optional)
- Fall spices or extracts (e.g., cinnamon, pumpkin spice, apple cider)
- Combine Dry Ingredients: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt, and cream of tartar. These are the dry ingredients that will form the base of the playdough.
- Add Wet Ingredients: Add the water and vegetable oil to the saucepan. If you want to color your playdough, add a few drops of food coloring at this stage. Stir everything together until it forms a smooth, thick batter.
- Cook Over Low Heat: Place the saucepan over low heat and cook the mixture, stirring constantly. It will begin to thicken and form a dough-like consistency. Keep stirring to prevent lumps and ensure even cooking. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
- Add Fall Scents: Once the playdough reaches the right consistency and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, remove it from the heat. While it’s still warm, add your fall-inspired scents. You can use ground cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or a few drops of apple cider extract. Start with small amounts and adjust to your desired level of scent. Knead the dough to distribute the scent evenly.
- Let It Cool: Allow the scented playdough to cool for a few minutes until it’s safe to touch. Be cautious as it may still be warm.
- Knead and Store: Once it’s cool enough, knead the playdough until it becomes smooth and pliable. If it’s too sticky, you can add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, you can add a bit of water. Store the playdough in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to keep it fresh.
7. Autumn Touch & Feel
Rather than a sensory bin, why not create your own Autumn touch and feel session with baby. Fill a bag with Autumn appropriate items such as leaves, pine cones, munchkin pumpkins, bark and acorns and one at a time, pass baby one of the items to feel in their hands.
This activity is great for toddlers too, discuss the different items with them and ask if they can remember what the item is.
8. Leaf Printing & Stamping
Engaging babies in creating their first nature-inspired art using leaves, paint, and paper can be a wonderful sensory and creative development activity. Here’s how you can do it:
- Large sheets of paper or cardboard
- Non-toxic washable paint in autumn colors (e.g., red, orange, yellow, brown, green)
- Baby-safe paintbrushes or foam brushes
- Assorted leaves collected from the outdoors
- Smock or old clothing to protect your baby’s clothes
- A safe work surface or mat
- Prepare the Work Area: Lay down a protective mat or old newspaper to create a designated work area for your baby. Place the large sheets of paper or cardboard on this surface.
- Collect Leaves: Go for a nature walk with your baby to collect a variety of leaves from your local area. Make sure the leaves are clean and dry before starting the activity.
- Set Up the Paint Station: Squirt small amounts of the non-toxic washable paint onto a palette or disposable plates. Use autumn-inspired colors like red, orange, yellow, brown, and green. Have the paintbrushes ready.
- Dress for Mess: Dress your baby in a smock or old clothing that you don’t mind getting a little messy. This will help protect their clothes from paint splatters.
- Leaf Printing: Show your baby how to dip the leaves into the paint. You can do this by gently holding their hand and guiding them. Then, assist them in pressing the painted side of the leaf onto the paper. The leaves can be used like stamps to create leaf patterns and prints on the paper.
- Experiment with Colors: Encourage your baby to use different colors of paint and leaves to create a variety of prints. Let them explore the textures and colors as they press the leaves onto the paper.
- Rotate and Repeat: As your baby becomes more comfortable with the process, let them rotate and arrange the leaves on their own. They may also enjoy experimenting with mixing colors. Continue pressing the leaves onto the paper to create their unique artwork.
- Observe and Interact: While your baby is engaged in the activity, talk to them about the colors, shapes, and textures they are exploring. Describe the different leaves and the marks they make with the paint.
- Safe Cleanup: Once your baby has finished their artwork, clean their hands and any paint residue. Allow the artwork to dry completely.
- Display and Celebrate: Display your baby’s nature-inspired art where they can see it. This not only celebrates their creativity but also provides an opportunity for them to revisit and interact with their artwork.
9. Exploring Grains and Seeds
Whilst thinking about conventional items for Autumn sensory activities is a great idea, grains and seeds provide a completely different sensory activity that little hands will love!
Get them to explore different grains and seeds associated with the autumn harvest, such as corn kernels, dried beans, and rice. Separate them in different bowls and encourage babies hands to dip in and out.
10. Baby’s First Autumn Picnic
Picnics aren’t just for summer! Create a pretend picnic in the park or in your garden with autumn-themed items like play food, stuffed animals, and sensory blankets to engage your baby’s senses. It will encourage curiosity and role play and they’re guaranteed to love it.
11. Autumn Board Books for Babies
Autumn-themed board books provide babies with not only a sensory experience but also a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Reading to babies from an early age can foster a lifelong love of books and learning, and these books specifically cater to their developmental needs while embracing the magic of the autumn season.
Here are some of favorites; “Touch and Feel Fall” by Scholastic, “Peek-a-Boo Forest” by Lamaze and “Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?” by Karen Katz.
12. DIY Sensory Bottles for Autumn Delights
Creating sensory bottles with fall-themed items like glitter, leaves, and colored water is a fantastic way to engage babies in a mesmerizing sensory experience. These bottles can captivate their attention and stimulate their visual and auditory senses. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make these sensory bottles:
- Clear, empty plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids (small water bottles or sensory bottle containers work well)
- Distilled water
- Clear liquid soap (optional)
- Fall-themed items (leaves, small pinecones, acorns, small plastic or rubber animals in autumn colors, etc.)
- Glitter in autumn colors (gold, red, orange, or brown)
- Food coloring (optional)
- Strong adhesive or super glue (to secure the lid)
- Prepare the Bottle: Start with an empty, clean plastic bottle. Remove any labels and ensure it’s dry inside.
- Select Fall-Themed Items: Gather small fall-themed items like colorful leaves, pinecones, acorns, or small plastic animals. These items will serve as the focal points in your sensory bottle.
- Add Glitter: Sprinkle glitter into the bottle. Use glitter colors that mimic the shades of autumn, such as gold, red, orange, or brown. The glitter will create a mesmerizing effect when the bottle is shaken.
- Fill with Water: Fill the bottle about 2/3 full with distilled water. If you want to make the liquid a bit thicker, you can add clear liquid soap to the water. The soap will slow down the fall of the items, creating a more mesmerizing effect. Leave some space at the top to avoid overflow when adding the fall-themed items.
- Add Fall-Themed Items: Carefully insert the selected fall-themed items into the bottle one by one. Use a long tool like tweezers or a wooden stick to position them as desired. Distribute them evenly for a balanced visual effect.
- Optional: Add Food Coloring: If you want to add a hint of color to your sensory bottle, you can put a drop or two of food coloring into the water. This can enhance the sensory experience and make the items more visually appealing.
- Seal the Bottle Securely: Once you’re satisfied with the contents and the water level, tightly secure the lid on the bottle. To prevent any potential leaks or accidents, you can use strong adhesive or super glue to seal the lid in place.
- Strengthen the Seal (Optional): To further ensure the lid is sealed securely and won’t open, you can wrap the bottle cap with electrical tape or another form of strong tape.
- Shake and Observe: Shake the sensory bottle gently to watch the items swirl and glitter sparkle. Hand the bottle to your baby, and let them explore the mesmerizing visual and auditory experience. Encourage them to shake and tilt the bottle to observe the fall-themed items moving around.
- Supervise and Enjoy: Always supervise your baby while they interact with the sensory bottle. They will enjoy the calming, sensory stimulation it provides.
13. Sensory Walks
Getting some fresh air with baby in Autumn is perhaps one of the greatest free and enriching experiences for you all. Let baby admire the falling leaves, warm colors and pick up items on your walk for baby to feel, be it leaves, foliages, acorns or bark. A great family outing for everyone which doesn’t cost anything.
Just a few ways that you can upgrade babies usual sensory activities with these fun, autumnal activities! We’d love to hear from you if you have any other favourites for this season.