Sensory play is not limited to daycare centers only, and parents can encourage their children to go through many sensory activities at home. Sensory activities are very important as they allow your babies and toddlers to explore the environment with their senses.
As you already know, there are 5 senses that humans perceive – touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. But there are some other senses like movement, balance, and position, and children learn and find out about their surroundings with the help of these senses.
Sensory activities are different from other kinds of games because they put emphasis on the senses which boosts the baby’s overall development. Therefore, any activity that can emphasize the senses of your little child is a sensory activity.
If you want to involve your child in sensory play then you are at the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of sensory play for regular and autistic babies along with some important activities that you can perform at home.
We are also going to recommend 3 affordable and high-quality sensory toys to boost the sensory skills of your young ones.
What is Sensory Play for Babies and Toddlers?
Your baby’s senses are not developed fully when they are born, and their development requires interaction with the sensory environment.
For this, your child must experience new activities which involve the development of different senses. These experiences increase the overall growth of your child’s brain development.
The best way to develop the senses of your baby is to engage him or her with sensory activities, and sensory toys. That will help your baby boost the function of sensory organs.
Benefits of Sensory Play for Babies & Toddlers:
As sensory activities focus on the senses, it helps your baby in cognitive growth, motor skills, and language skills. Sensory activities also encourage your child to learn from experiments and help in social interaction.
While the outside world provides dozens of fun and messy ways for children to boost their senses, sensory play can also be practiced indoors while keeping your home tidy and safe.
Here are the key areas that sensory play improves regardless if your young one is playing outside or indoors:
1. Brain development
When your child is playing, his brain is growing. According to the research, sensory play is very effective for the development of a major part of the central nervous system which is the brain.
Sensory play provides an opportunity for a child to think and let the brain work which directly strengthens the nerve connections and boosts the development of the brain.
A well-developed brain at a very early age will lead to stronger learning and memory skills. Sensory play also trains your child for his future tasks including problem-solving and language skills.
2. Language enhancement
During sensory plays, children use every single sense of them including hearing, seeing, touching, and smelling. This engagement of senses helps your child to describe what they are doing. They use more descriptive words to describe their impressions which directly leads to language development.
3. Strengthens the Motor skills
Sensory play nurtures the fine motor skills of your baby or toddler. Trying on their shoes, writing letters on paper, and zipping their coats are all such activities to boost their motor skills.
When you allow your child to play freely and explore things like cereals, slime, or playdough, it also reinforces their abilities. The tactile play where your child pours or mixes is another excellent way to let the children work on their coordinated movements and move their little muscles.
4. Skills to get Adapted
Every new day with new games helps your child to gain adaptability skills. The several experiences of different sensory play give them the confidence to easily adapt to every changed situation.
With such thriving adaptive skills, your baby becomes able to accept life challenges and achieve its future goals successfully. Your positive response at an early age further motivates them to move forward and face every new challenge bravely.
5. Cognition skills
Observing new objects and trying new games boost the thinking capability of children. The variety of sensory plays teaches your children the basic preschool stuff. They learn about pre-math skills including matching, patterns, size comparison, and sorting out objects.
Sensory play also boosts up the scientific part of the little brain. For example, the float and sink game teaches them the concept of floating and sinking, and when they see how gravity works on their body and with different other objects.
6. The soothing effect
Sensory play is a great way to calm agitated children. During tactile play, the babies gain a soothing influence on their bodies and mind. The little fingers kneading in play dough, and running the rice grains, sand, and water in the sensory buns are quite satisfying.
In short, the sensory activities help the children to drain out their tenses, worries, and negative emotions and fill them with long-lasting satisfaction. They get all refreshed and recharge to have fun again.
7. Problem-solving skills and experimentation
Interaction with a wide variety of materials and open-ended activities gives them the ability to predict, solve problems, and make decisions.
The children develop the essential skills to solve the pre-math and science experiments through sensory play. When something makes your child curious and they ask questions or wonder how it works, all such things foster their problem-solving skills.
Pouring out material into a box or cup, fitting objects through a tube, and learning about different sizes and weights of objects are some activities that give your pre-schoolers a sense of problem-solving.
Your child tries new experiments during sensory play. They predict the results, see how the results differ from their prediction and then try new methods next time. All such activities provide them an opportunity to step into the scientific world.
Some activities of sensory play involve comparing, sorting, and observing the similarities and differentiation between the objects giving babies skills needed to solve basic math problems.
The open-ended activities promote your child’s creativity. Their imagination has no limits so when you provide your child with exciting sensory objects, they see them differently.
For example, when you give your child shaving cream, they imagine the cream as a cloud. All these fun plays boost their self-esteem to take out their hidden creativity.
9. Emotional development
When children observe their adults, their kindness, and the way they use safety measures, they also develop the same skills. This emotional development is very beneficial for children of all ages.
10. Social skills
Sensory play at an early age is significantly important to encourage involvement and acceptance. Playing in groups during sensory play develops the communication and social qualities of your child.
Group play teaches them to accept the point of view of others. They learn to get along together and also gain empathy and mindfulness.
11. Connection with Nature
Sensory play is a great way to connect your baby with nature. When they play with the water and dig their figures deep into the soil, they feel and touch it. They discover new experiences and get connected with them.
Smelling the sweet fragrance of flowers while playing in the garden soil also encourages them to admire the beauty of nature. All these things fortify their learning capability.
The Importance of Sensory Play for kids with Autism:
Sensory play also brings a bundle of benefits for children with autism. Here is a list of reasons why sensory play is good for such babies and toddlers.
- Sensory play helps them to control their senses.
- It helps them to control or prevent hypersensitivity.
- It also helps them to use their senses and external stimuli response.
- It develops their interest in their surrounding world.
- Engaging in sensory activities also helps children with autism to enhance their cognitive and coordination skills.
- It improves their fine motor and gross motor skills.
- Sensory play also soothes them when they get agitated.
- It also improves their overall body and mind development and allows them to practice their specific strengths.
Best Sensory Toys for Babies and Toddlers:
Playing with sensory toys provides the best sensory activity for your preschooler. Active playing brings several facilities for your child to sense things around them and also stimulates their overall growth. Moreover, it also promotes independent play, self-esteem, and focus.
Here is the list of the top 3 sensory toys for your children.
1. Baby music shake ball:
Baby music shake ball is a fun and engaging musical toy for your child. The bouncing ball vibrates and rolls on the floor. The amusing music further enhances the charm of this toy and contributes to your child’s brain development.
This bouncing ball facilitates your baby in improving their core skills, especially their motor skills. Playing with such bumble balls strengthens their little muscles when they chase to catch them.
- The baby music shake ball has bright colors and bold patterns that attract the attention of children.
- The structure of the ball makes it easy to grasp.
- The material used in the making of the shaking ball is safe for babies and is environment-friendly.
- The loud noise can frighten your baby. Your child might need some to get used to it.
2. Wooden kids activity cube:
The wooden kids’ activity cube is specially designed to promote counting and math skills. It comes with the Play Idea e-book so you can also have fun with your baby.
It is another cool multifunctional toy with 5 functions in one. It contains an activity play cube, fully accessorized with the stacking cups and essential world board book. The interesting activities include wooden beads, spinning gears, a learning clock, and a shape sorter.
These assortments of activities boats their senses and skills. It also promotes pre-math skills including counting, color pattern, and shape recognition.
- It is light and compact, being a perfect travel toy for your toddler.
- It is an educational and fun toy that is parent-approved.
- It is an excellent birthday for 1 to 2 years kids.
- It is durable and can be passed down to other kids.
- The small blocks can cause choking hazards. You cannot leave your child unattended with this toy.
This incredible busy board toy comes with 14 different features on a single board. It includes a variety of buckles, zip pockets, lace, etc. It also includes both the English alphabet and number letters. All these functions help your child to practice their basic preschooler stuff.
This fun toy will keep your child entertained and help them to learn basic math and spelling. It also helps them to learn how to dress. With the help of this toy, your child will develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and finger dexterity.
It is a perfect toddler activities sensory board that also keeps them occupied at home or during traveling. It is ideal for Christmas and birthday gifts for one, two, or three years old girls and boys.
- It has different difficulty levels to be challenging for children.
- The material used in its production is toxic-free. The fabric is soft and doesn’t have any hard edges.
- Can be carried in most diaper bags and school bags.
- If the buttons on the board break, it can cause a choking hazard.
We hope these sensory activities make your children capable and resourceful enough to create and learn different things. Your babies and toddlers can learn a lot of things through sensory activities. Through sensory activities, your children become able to self-examine and learn many new things through curiosity and exploration. Therefore, whenever you see your baby playing or spending time on some random things like straws, pots, or toys, try to encourage and appreciate them.
With your appreciation and support, your children will be confident that they can learn new things, so, don’t discourage them and allow them to explore independently.