Toys play an important role in your baby's life right from the start – as play is an essential part of the physical and cognitive development in babies and young children. During this developmental phase, it is really important that your little one has lots of play opportunities, which should include access to a wide variety of toys, including sensory toys.
Your little one learns and develops at a rapid rate and at only a few months old they are already absorbing huge amounts of information from the surrounding world, much of which is learnt via touch and stimulation of the senses. Therefore, the toys and type of play that your little one engages with have a significant influence on their learning experience. Creating a sensory environment from a young age is beneficial in many ways and can contribute towards early development and education.
Sensory toys are designed to stimulate and activate your little one’s five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. They might include elements such as bright, contrasting colours, sounds, or different textures. One of the main benefits of toys is the chance for your little one to go on sensory explorations, checking out different feels, sounds, even smells. These toys stimulate the tactile system through various textures, vibration, temperature, or weight.
- Visual toys; light up sensory toys, flash, run in patterns, or glow toys - stimulate colour receptors by changing colours; eg light up sensory balls. Sensory black & white cards will allow your newborn to learn to focus. Shiny surface balls & mirrors all play important roles in visual stimulation and developing self-awareness.
- Auditory toys; music, metronome beats, chimes, or bells. Toys like handbells, maracas, rattles, xylophones, crinkly toys.
- Tactile toys; comforters, crinkly toys, teddy bears, tactile balls, touch & feel books.
- Vestibular toys; toys like swings, rocker boards, scooter boards, skateboards, spinners and some wooden toys that move through space in different directions and different speeds.
It is amazing to watch your little one develop as they are continuosly learning through play. They develop vision, hand-eye coordination, cognitive language, motor skills, spatial awareness, concentration, creativity and imagination, as well as aspects in toys that allow your little one to learn how to problem solve or learn to interact with others.
Watch out for toys that are too busy, confusing, and just a lot for a baby to focus on! This can lead to the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish, which is focused interactive play and learning. Choosing toys with gentle or neutral colours and with one clear function is usually a good rule for buying toys for babies. Make sure also that your little one is playing more than the toy!
Most importantly, have fun playing with your little one getting to know their little personality. You’ll form a close bond, stimulate their senses and encourage development