While it’s true that we are all born with all five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – most aren’t fully developed until we reach our first birthday. At birth, smell and taste are our most developed senses. As those first few days and months tick by, we start to see a little better, hear a little more clearly, and we are increasingly aware of the world around us through those five senses.
Stimulating Brains, Activating the Imagination
It’s no wonder then that sensory play is vital to our children’s brain development. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates any of a child’s five senses, as well as body awareness, movement, and balance. Sensory play also activates your child’s imagination, as much of how children develop is through pretending in the environment around them. Babies and children learn so much about the world through sensory exploration, and as they grow and learn and adapt, they gain a better understanding about themselves and other people, and also about objects and open space.
Have you ever noticed how babies and toddlers have this incessant need to touch everything and anything they see when you’re out and about? This is their special way of independently engaging in sensory play, and while our first response is to deter it, we should really be encouraging it.
Picking up on the ‘Touch’ and ‘Sound’ of Objects
And what better way to encourage sensory play than by introducing specially made sensory toys to babies and children! The most common type of sensory play is through touch – but when it comes to sensory play, there is so much more than that. For babies, simply scrunching up some construction paper, feeling the change of the shape and hearing the delightful ‘crunch’ sound the paper makes for some fantastic sensory play. However, there are sensory baby toys that incorporate so much more than just those two senses.
Babies love things that crinkle, shake, and move independently. They love this not only because it entertains them, but because it entertains their ever-growing brains. Different textures, sounds, weights and sizes, when it comes to sensory baby toys, are intriguing to their thirsty minds. Toys like bumpy balls and teethers and rattles are great sensory toys for babies – they are toys they can touch, taste, hear and cuddle. And they love them!
Inspiring Confidence in Little Minds
Sensory toys are not just for babies, however. Children need sensory play too! Sensory toys can be anything from toys that light up to playdough to puzzles, and for older children this is fantastic as it not only develops their sensory play, it also helps reduce anxiety. Yes, children experience anxiety too – and children who play with sensory toys will be more confident and less likely to display signs of anxiety, such as nail biting, thumb sucking, or biting their hair.
Remember the fidget spinner craze? Those are great sensory toys for older children with anxiety or trouble paying attention. Simply by experiencing the weight of the toy and relishing the speed of the spin, they are able to focus and center themselves.
Helping Active Brains Get a Full Work-out
Sensory toys can do so much for our children – in the early years, baby sensory toys help them understand their environment and interact with their little worlds more confidently, and as they grow up, sensory toys can instill confidence and even help with their language and communication skills. What’s more, sensory play can calm and soothe children at the end of a long day, improving their ability to sleep through the night and let their active brains rest. Sensory play is key to our children’s development and sensory toys for babies and children can help them safely explore the exciting and engaging world they live in.