Babies are born with all five senses – sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. While we don’t remember learning to use our eyes or ears, sensory development is something that all babies are doing in the first few years of their lives. And the best way to help them is with sensory play.
What is sensory play for babies?
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a baby’s senses, whether it’s touch, sight, taste, smell or hearing. Sensory toys and activities are designed to do just that: aid in a child’s sensory development through enabling them to play with, create and explore textures, colours, flavours, scents and sounds.
The benefits of sensory play range from physical to intellectual: it helps babies to form important neurological connections, and aids in language development, problem solving and developing motor skills. The best thing about it is that all this takes place in the form of play, meaning there’ll be no skimping on giggles and smiles while your little one does some important learning!
Sensory toys for babies and toddlers
Sensory toys encourage babies and toddlers to use their eyes, ears, mouths,
noses and fingers to experience sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures. Some of our favourite sensory toys include:
- Teethers, such as this rainbow teether by Nature Bubz, which helps with teeth, gum and jaw development
- Chunky / 3D puzzles, where large puzzle pieces must be placed into order to create a picture, aiding with visual development and problem solving
- Pop up books, which aid in visual and language development through
exploring shapes, colours and words
- Maracas, which aid in auditory and motor skills development
Sensory activities for babies, newborns and toddlers
Sensory activities come a lot more naturally to parents and carers than you might think. Sensory activities for newborns include belly time, aiding in development of back, neck and core muscles, and almost everything parents do with their babies – singing, cuddling, rocking, talking to them and playing.
For babies, even starting on solid foods and exposing them to a range of colours, textures and tastes is a sensory experience. Other activities include water play, finger painting, walks in the pram and sand pit play.
For toddlers, everything from walking to eating dinner counts as sensory play, but you can enhance their development through playing with musical toys like xylophones, taking a bubble bath, dancing, helping mum or dad with cooking, and sorting things into colour categories.
These are some of our favourite sensory toys and activities, but you can always make sensory play your own – when it comes to sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes, the world is your oyster!