As your little one explores the world around them, their sensory development plays a crucial role in shaping their understanding of the environment. To foster this growth, providing the right toys is essential to ensure your child’s senses are enhanced while also keeping them engaged and entertained.
What Is Sensory Development?
Sensory development refers to how a child’s five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) process and interpret the information they receive from the world. During the early years, these senses form the foundation for cognitive and physical growth, and stimulating these senses with appropriate toys can aid in brain development, emotional regulation, and essential motor skills.
How To Foster Your Child’s Sensory Development
It’s vital to choose a range of toys that aid in the development of each of the five senses. While that may seem like quite a few toys to buy, it’s worth it in the long run for your little one. To help you get started in navigating the toy shops, we’ve outlined below which kinds of toys you should choose to help develop each of your child’s senses.
Bright colours, bold patterns, and contrasting shades captivate a child’s visual senses. Toys that feature vibrant hues and varying textures can help improve visual acuity. Look for toys with high-contrast patterns, mobiles, and picture books that allow your little one to explore different shapes and colours.
Auditory stimulation plays a crucial role in language development and auditory processing. Toys that produce gentle sounds or melodies are perfect for this. Choose items like rattles, musical toys, or toys with different sound textures to engage your child’s hearing senses.
The sense of touch is one of the earliest and most developed in infants. It helps them understand their world and forms the basis for communication and emotional bonding. Toys with various textures like soft, plush, squishy, bumpy, or rough surfaces are ideal for tactile stimulation. Consider toys made of different materials, such as cloth, rubber, or wood, to provide a variety of touch experiences.
Taste and Smell
Taste and smell are essential senses in understanding and experiencing the world, but it is vital to be cautious with toys that involve these senses. Avoid toys with small parts that can be swallowed, and ensure that any scents are safe and non-toxic. Natural toys like wooden teethers or toys made from food-grade materials can be beneficial for these senses.
What To Consider When Choosing Sensory Toys
Now that we understand the importance of sensory development and which kinds of toys help each one of your little one’s senses grow, it’s crucial to explore some factors to consider when selecting the right toys for your child.
Choose toys that are suitable for your child’s age and developmental stage. Age recommendations are usually provided on toy packaging to guide you in making appropriate choices. Toys that are too complex or too simple may lead to disinterest or frustration, hindering the learning process.
Your child’s safety is paramount. Always opt for toys that have been tested and certified to meet safety standards. Check for choking hazards, sharp edges, and toxic materials. Read reviews and research the manufacturer’s reputation before making a purchase.
Toys that encourage open-ended play are excellent for sensory development. These are toys that can be used in various ways and allow children to use their imagination and creativity. Building blocks, playdough, and shape sorters are great examples of open-ended toys.
Children can be quite enthusiastic when it comes to exploring their toys. Choose toys that are sturdy and can withstand rough handling. Durable toys ensure that your child can continue to enjoy them for an extended period.
Look for toys that engage multiple senses simultaneously. For example, a textured ball that makes gentle sounds as it rolls enhances both tactile and auditory senses. Multi-sensory toys promote holistic development and provide a more enriching play experience.
What Types of Sensory Toys Are There?
There are a wide range of toys designed specifically to help promote sensory development in children. If you’re still stuck in a rut about which sensory toys to get for your child, don’t worry, as we’ll outline some of the most common types of sensory toys below.
Soft and Plush Toys
Soft and plush toys offer comfort and sensory stimulation. Choose ones with varying textures, such as faux fur, satin, and ribbons, to provide a tactile experience for your child.
Activity Gyms and Playmats
Activity gyms and playmats feature hanging toys, mirrors, and textures to captivate your baby’s visual and tactile senses while encouraging physical movement and exploration.
Sensory balls come in different shapes, sizes, and textures, making them perfect for tactile stimulation and gross motor skills development.
Musical instruments like shakers, drums, and xylophones engage the auditory senses while encouraging rhythm and creativity.
Building Blocks and Stacking Toys
These toys not only enhance fine motor skills but also allow children to explore shapes, colours, and textures as they build and stack.
Water and Sand Play
Water tables, sandboxes, and water toys provide a sensory-rich experience, allowing kids to explore different textures and temperatures.
Interactive books with different textures and pop-ups engage multiple senses and promote early literacy skills.