Focus on: the foil blanket
Foil blankets really are the unsung hero of our sensory boxes, and it’s likely that if you’re new to sensory play with your baby, then it’s probably one of the first things you’ll try. Why? Well, foil blankets are incredibly fun and noisy! They’re used in lots of sensory classes and social media is full of photos of babies and their sensory blankets.
There’s lots of different ways to play with a foil blanket, especially as your little one gets older. We’ve been playing with Zack (who is now 7 weeks old) and his foil blanket the past few days by simply lying him down on the blanket and letting him kick and move around. It’s a great one to get on video and share with friends and family during lockdown.
As your little one gets older, team the foil blanket with a variety of other items - a flashing spiky ball is great to add for tummy time, and a light projector with a foil blanket draped over a chair can create a mini light show!
Why do babies love foil blankets? Firstly it’s the noise! They inadvertently learn that if they move certain parts of their bodies, noise will follow, so it’s a great tool for helping with body awareness. The noise is similar to white noise too, so it can be comforting to some babies (it certainly is for Zack). But for others it may be too loud, so watch your baby for cues that they are or aren't enjoying it.
Secondly, the reflections of lights and objects bouncing off the shiny surface are mesmerising for little ones who are just discovering the world around them. Concentrating on the different sights around them can be great to help strengthen their weak eye muscles as well as help their neck strength - move objects just out of view to encourage them to track the objects with their eyes and move their heads.
As Joey is now 2, he plays with the foil blanket completely differently to Zack - he observes us with Zack quite a lot and requests that we build him a den with the foil blanket, or we hide him or us under it and play peekaboo.
Other ideas for the sensory foil blanket:
Place your baby on their tummy on the blanket, using a flashing spiky ball in front of them, roll it from side to side and encourage them to move their head from side to side
Scrunch the blanket into a ball and sing along to songs whilst throwing the ball in the air - this is a great one to couple with 'Five Little Monkeys' by bouncing it around as if it's a monkey!
Place your baby on their back on the foil blanket, take one edge and lift it over to the other side covering your baby (not their face - think similar to swaddling) and touch their hand/foot through the blanket whilst looking surprised.
Lauren, Joey & Zack x