Month 9: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 9 month old

Month 9: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 9 month old

Josh’s 9 Month Story

Zoooommmmm…. Did you see me?…. Zoooommmmm… Faster than mommy express.. Faster than a speeding daddy bullet.. they call me.. J-Flash!

Today’s challenge for J-Flash is to find the hidden snake in these giant mountains that stand before me. Climbing these mountains is a small feat for a superhero like me. For I will crawl up… and then down.. and up and down and along the way manage to check out all the caves for the angry bear 😉

I will keep on zooming until I find him. Time waits for no man. Until next month.

Lots of smiles,
JFlash aka Josh


Spending quality time with your baby is one of the most important things you can do. Quality time bundled with creative activities will help stimulate your child’s development.

The fictional story (above) introduced us to Josh’s homemade activities. The cushions acted as mountains and tents turned into caves. Be creative!

Try  this month’s activities to help your baby explore and learn as they play.

What to expect from your 9 month old baby

  • Motor Development:
    – Your baby loves moving around. Provide them with lots of opportunities to crawl, stand or cruise the furniture.
    – Changing positions is becoming easier: for example from tummy to back or to sitting.
    – Your baby may be pulling up to stand while holding on to the furniture.
    – Whenever possible allow your baby to walk/cruise barefoot. This allows better development of the muscles and tendons in their feet.
    – Your little one is now sitting unsupported.
    – Your baby is exploring objects around them through the use of their hands and mouth.
    – Their hand coordination improves as they are able to easier manipulate their toys.
    – They may be able to use their pincer grasp (use of thumbs and fingers) to pick up small objects and toys.
  • Communication Development:
    – You may hear lots of babbling from your baby. You may be lucky to hear ‘mama or dada’
    – Your little one’s understanding skills are also improving. As you ask ‘Where is Mama?’ they may be able to point to you or crawl over to you.
    – They may also start to use gestures to communicate their needs e.g. reach hands up to be picked up.
  • Social Development:
    –  You may also notice some separation anxiety at this age.

Sensory Activities for a Healthy Lifestyle

1. Crawling on various surfaces

Crawling uphills

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness, strengthening of shoulders, arms, developing arches in their hands (required for fine motor skills), coordination between right and left sides of the body Tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

As your baby strengthens their crawling skills you can try to push them further to continue strengthening their body through crawling.
The last few months I have included a variety of crawling activities that contained chasing things/people or exploring different textures. This month I encourage you to develop simple crawling obstacle courses. Just like in this month’s story.

These can include:

  • Crawling on unsteady surfaces such as trampolines, air mattresses or pillows.
  • Creating mounds or “hills” from pillows and blankets. Then have them crawl around on them. Going up and down.
  • You can play hide and seek, chase them around on all fours or have them follow their favorite or a random toy/object while crawling on top of the “hills”.

2. Messy play: Fun with Jell-O

Jello play

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, body awareness and hand eye coordination Tactile sense

How to Play

This is such a fun game to do with your little one. You can do this activity either outside or inside. Either way it is best to put some kind of a splash mat under them to limit the mess. If warm enough I would recommend keeping your baby in their diaper to let them explore the texture freely without freaking out about their clothes getting dirty. This is completely up to you though.
Once the prep is done simply sit them on to the mat with the Jell-O in front of them and let them explore. You can place it directly on the mat or a tray. They may approach it head on and jump into exploring the texture or they may be slow to explore. Either is fine. If they are slow to explore just provide some encouragement by showing them it’s ok to play in it.
You can also add straws and different sized containers that they can use to poke through the Jell-O. They may even find it fun to crawl around in it.

3. Lets shake it all around


Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Grasping, object manipulation and hand eye coordination Auditory, visual and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

Equipment needed: Tupperware containers (various sizes), plastic bottles, items to be placed inside containers (these can include: dry pasta, rice, beans, water beads, hard candy, bells or small toys).

Encourage your baby to explore different sounds and improve their manipulation skills by shaking a variety of home made rattles/shakers.
Simply choose a container and place objects inside (ideas provided above) that make sound when shaken. To avoid any choking hazards ensure that containers are securely taped or glued.

Once completed let your baby explore and play music.

4. Grab and drop

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Gasping, hand eye coordination, crossing midline, weight shift and balance Tactile, visual, vestibular and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

In month 8 of this activity series I spoke about a tracking and reaching activity. This month I want to move it to the next level.

Have your baby seated on the floor. Place a large container in front of them as well as toys on both right and left sides.
1. Have your baby pick up objects from either side and then drop them into a container.
2. Encourage your baby to reach across their bodies to pick up an object on the opposite side. This is called crossing the midline (the invisible line in the middle of their body). Then have them drop the toy into the container.
3. Once all the toys are collected they can dump them all out and repeat.
4. Simultaneously you can encourage object exploration as you repeat the game with toys, balls, kitchen instruments, blocks etc.

5. Messy play: Flour play

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination Tactile sense

How to Play

This is just as simple as it sounds. Place some flour on a tray or on the floor and have your little one explore this texture.

You can also add some cars or animal toys that they can ride or walk through.

6. Humpty Dumpty

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, strengthening of shoulder and arm Vestibular, tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

The objective of this game is to help develop your baby’s balancing skills while in a seated position.
To start off, sit behind your baby and hold them by their hips. Then move their weight to one side. As you pull them off balance you want your baby to place their hand on that side for support. If they are unable to position their hand provide them with some guidance.
Repeat this with the opposite side as well as forward and back.

To make this game more fun you can add the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ nursery rhyme to it.
‘Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall’

As you say the words ‘fall’ move them off balance as described above.

7. Ziplock painting on a flat surface

Ziplock painting

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Hand skills and hand eye coordination Visual and tactile senses

How to Play

Equipment needed: large zip lock bag, variety of paint colors and masking tape

1. Open up the zip lock bag and place a few drops of different colored paints inside.
2. Close the bag and secure it with masking tape. To avoid any paint spillage place the masking tape on both top and the bottom edges.
3. You can place the bag either on the floor or on a tray of a high chair.
4. Let your little one explore. They can squish and move the paint around mixing the colors.

8. Reach for the sky

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Body awareness, strengthening of shoulders, arms, developing arches in their hands (required for fine motor skills), coordination between right and left sides of the body, balance, grasping, hand eye coordination and motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task) Visual, proprioceptive, tactile and vestibular

How to Play

The main objective of this activity is for your baby to reach for hanging toys with one of their hands while on their hands and knees. This position will encourage your baby to shift their weight onto one hand while reaching with the other.

1. Find toys that can be attached to a string. These can include bells, shakers, rattles etc.
2. Then attach them to objects that they can crawl under. These can include dining tables, work desks, tree branches or large boxes that your little one can crawl into.
3. Then let your baby loose to try to crawl to and reach for each toy. Make sure that each toy is high enough so your little one needs to stretch to get it.

9. Get grabbing!

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

As your baby continues to develop their gasping skills make sure you provide them with opportunities to grasp and manipulate a variety of different objects. Variety can be in size, shape and weight. This will strengthen both their tactile and proprioceptive sensory systems. As well as teach them how to problem solve their grasping skills.

At this age your baby is starting to learn how to use their thumb and pointer finger to grasp smaller objects. The safest way to practice this grasp is by providing your little one different types of finger foods such as peas, diced cooked carrots, small pieces of cheese etc

You can also provide smaller sized toys but make sure you ALWAYS SUPERVISE to avoid choking.

10. Squigz grab & pull

Squigz baby play

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Gasping, wrist extension and hand strength Tactile and proprioceptive senses

How to Play

If you haven’t heard of Squigz then you could potentially be missing out on many fun memories. I use these frequently with toddlers and older kids but babies can get some fun in as well. Squigz is a suction toy that can be attached to various surfaces or to each other. I recommend the large size for our babies to eliminate a choking hazard. For more information check out the Squigz details.
With our young babies we can use them to develop their hand strength.
Simply stick them to a small table or a high chair tray. Then watch them grasp and try to pull them off. You can also have them seated near a window and have them try to pull them off.

Remember that our 9 month old still loves to explore objects with their mouth. This means that these Squigz will quickly end up in their mouths, so you should always supervise your baby to avoid choking.

Occupational Therapy Tip:
Working on a vertical surface, such as a window in this case, strengthens muscles in your baby’s shoulders and wrist. These are important for many fine motor skills such as writing and cutting.


So there you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 9 month old that you can do today to help their development.

These are just a few activities that are bound to spark other ideas. Just remember that every new sensory experience is helping your child’s growth and development.

Remember: Each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in these months’ activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 8 month activities < 10 month activities ❯
What is Sensory Processing?

What is Sensory Processing?

Amongst the green hills of a sunny Californian summer, there is an ecstatic farmer. He goes by the name Barry. Barry opens the doors to his fruit farm every weekend to let the local kids run free and enjoy the fresh berries. This morning, as Barry starts to open the gate, a boy named Josh storms through. His blond surfer haircut shaking side to side as he wiggles and bobs through the farm.

As Josh wanders through the farm, let’s think about what his sensory system would be doing. When he spots a strawberry bush in the distance he is using his visual sense to take in all the information. Deep red fruit with rough, shiny skin. Each fruit is no larger than a thumb. The bush appears to be full of these berries and Josh scurries towards it with excitement.

Finally having arrived, Josh uses his internal senses to bend down and pick the fruit off. His legs, arms, and head all working in sync to keep balance. Josh pulls off the strawberry while being aware how much force to use so it doesn’t get squished in his hand. Immediately notices the berry’s smooth texture through his tactile sense. Its weight lighter than the toys at home. Josh pauses… then brings the fruit closer to his face for inspection. Smells good. Looks good. He hears no bees closing in. Ok, it’s ready for consumption. In it goes, into the mouth. Mmmm… Sweet… juicy fruit… Josh’s eyes close with pleasure. No sooner his eyes open up locking in on another strawberry.

It’s going to be a fun day at the farm.

As Josh wanders around picking strawberries his sensory system is hard at work. Now think about your whole day and how hard your entire sensory system is working.

What is sensory processing?

“Sensory Processing is the ability to organize sensory information for use…. that enables man to interact effectively with the environment” Ayers, 1972

When a child begins to explore the world, they experience many different sensations. Their senses come alive. Information starts flowing through their senses. They begin to learn to organize and act on this information.

In other words sensory processing includes:

  1. Our ability to take in information through all of 8 senses,
  2. Our ability to then organize and interpret all this sensory information and give it meaning,
  3. Our ability to respond to that information in a purposeful manner

For example:

  • You hear something behind you. Your brain organizes and interprets that information. You respond by turning your head around to see what it is, or
  • Someone bumps into you. Your tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses start sending information to your brain. Your brain is able to organize and interpret this to respond by shifting your weight to make sure you don’t fall over.

“Proper sensory processing forms the underlying foundation for academic, learning and social behavior.” – Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, STAR Center

First we need to have a healthy sensory system before more intellectual and academic learning can take place.

Sensory system in a nutshell

Our bodies take in information through 8 different senses. They can be separated into internal and external senses. Take the nervous system, for it to develop, we need to experience many different kinds of sensations.

So lets take a closer look at each of the 8 senses. Keep in mind that the integration between the senses is as important as each one. Just like in the strawberry-picking story at the beginning of this post. 


Sensations that tell us what is coming from outside of the body.

1. Auditory sense (hearing)

Magical Bridge Playground - Tot Zone, Josh playing musical bells

  • Auditory system processes and interprets information that is heard.
  • It tells us the quality and directionality of sound.
  • It also helps us understand speech.
  • Allows us to distinguish a specific sound e.g. parent’s voice from background noise such as TV.
  • Allows us to discriminate sounds that are similar.

2. Visual sense (sight)

  • Visual sense interprets what we see.
  • It lets us recognize size, shapes, colors, as well as helps us read the body language and other non-verbal cues during social interactions.
  • It includes visual acuity, coordination of two eyes, focusing, eye movement control and visual perceptual skills.
  • Vision together with vestibular and proprioceptive senses helps to guide our movement and develop appropriate balance skills.

3. Gustatory sense (taste)


  • Josh eating
  • The information is taken in through the tongue.
  • It provides us with the information about characteristics of food such as salty, sour, bitter or sweet.
  • It is critical for our enjoyment of food and keeping things out of our body that can be harmful.

4. Olfactory sense (smell)

Josh smelling flowers

  • Olfactory sense is where the sensory information is inhaled through the nose.
  • It helps us recognize whether smells are dangerous, strong, faint, pleasurable or foul.
  • Smell may activate emotions/memories and influence what you like and don’t like.

5. Tactile system (touch)

Messy Play

  • Tactile system receives information through the skin. Both the skin covering the body and the inner linings of the mouth.
  • It provides information about temperature, pressure, vibration, size, texture, pain and movement through the hairs on the skin.
  • Tactile information gives us essential information for body awareness and motor planning.
  • It also helps us to understand our surroundings, to feel safe and assist with the development of both fine and gross motor skills.


Sensations that tell us where the body is in space, how it is moving and what is going on inside our body.

6. Vestibular system (sense of position and movement)

Josh on a swing in Mountain View, CA

  • Receptors are located in the inner ear.
  • Provides information about movement, balance and your body’s relation to gravity.
  • It coordinates how the child’s head and body is moving through space.
  • Vestibular sense tells us whether we are right side up or upside down and how quickly and in what direction we are moving.

7. Proprioceptive system (joint and muscle sensation)

Josh pulling a branch

  • The word proprioception refers to the sensory information caused by the contraction and stretching of muscles and the bending, straightening, pulling and compression of the joints between bones. (Ayers J, 1972)
  • It receives information from the muscles and joints to provide awareness of our body position. It makes it possible for a person to move his arm or leg without having to observe every action.
  • It tells us how much force is needed for a particular task, such as picking up a juice box without spilling out its contents, or throwing a ball.

8. Interoception

  • This sense tells us what is going on inside our body through the senses within our organs.
  • This sensation helps to regulate blood pressure, digestion, breathing. This encompasses all the physiological feelings of all the body parts including pain, temperature, itch, hunger, thirst, stomach ache etc.


So there you have it, Sensory Processing and the 8 internal & external senses that help us navigate our world. You can now see why a healthy sensory system is a foundation for all other learning and social behavior. It’s never too late to start, so try out my activities to give your child the opportunities to develop a healthy sensory system. And as always, remember to have FUN playing!