If you keep up with Nanny Anita’s crafts and activities for newborns, you’ll notice they’re often centred around sensory play. Here, we’d like to discuss the importance of sensory play in the early years and the best ways you can support the development of your baby’s senses.
When children are very young they learn through using one or more senses at the same time, explains Anita. Touch, smell, sight, hearing and balance all work together to develop your child’s body, confidence and awareness for the world around them.
When you touch or taste something, for example, sensory processing occurs and babies need to make these connections for the first time. Best Years, creators of sensory toys for babies, explain how when babies use their senses to discover “a new noise or smell, they are creating a neuronal pathway in the brain.” It’s important to encourage your child to make these initial connections with the world.
The benefits of sensory play
- It helps to develop fine motor skills. These skills are important for the control and coordination of the small muscle groups in your hands. This will ultimately help your little one with writing, tying shoelaces, doing buttons, and many other activities basic day-to-day activities.
- It encourages children to develop a sense of themselves and the world around them. This exploration not only practises use of the senses, but can also aid language development as children will want to express what they’ve experienced.
- It aids memory function. By experiencing different textures, smells and tastes, children are building up a repertoire of knowledge that they’ll be able to recall how they felt when they come across the feeling again.
- It can help children who don’t like or are unfamiliar with certain textures. Anita explains how her one-year-old charge doesn’t like touching certain foods because of how they feel in his hands. Sensory play helps children become familiar with textures and even start to enjoy the feel of them.
- It isn’t only about touching and physical development. Taste and smell are learnt and experienced too. Food play helps children develop their taste buds and learn smells they like and dislike.
- Finally, sensory play is very good for helping to calm down anxious or frustrated children. It directs their attention away from whatever was making them uncomfortable and helps to regulate their energy levels and mood.
How to encourage sensory play
Sensory toys are a simple way to stimulate very young children and aid their physical and mental development.
Babies can’t really identify colour during their first six months, so monotone toys work really well during the early months.
“Babies find contrasting stimuli more engaging than multicoloured ones,” explains Anita. “Not only will their visual development be stimulated but also their physical development like kicking and reaching.” What’s more, studies show monotone colours can help to increase baby’s concentration skills.
The Best Years monotone collection is a great choice for young babies. The contrasting colours are stimulating to look at, while the crocheted texture is appealing to touch.
Black & White Monkey Baby Rattle. Click to buy now
Rattles have always been popular baby toys – and with good reason too! Once your baby is able to grasp, he or she will be able to start making noise by shaking the rattle. Repetition of a sound may become annoying for you, but it a great sensory experience for your little one, explains Best Years.
The Best Years dinosaur rattles are such a vibrant collection. Similar to the monotone toys, they’re tactile, robust and lots of fun.
Dinosaur Rattles. Click to shop the collection
Keep it soft
Sensory play is all about exploration and learning about new textures. Repetition is also important in making textures familiar. Opt for a soft comforting companion that your little one can take everywhere with them. All children love toys that are irresistibly huggable.
Best Years make the most adorable baby comforters from 100% organic Egyptian cotton.
Baby comforters. Select your favourite here
About Best Years
Best Years have been making knitted and crocheted toys for over 10 years. The toys are available to purchase on here on their website, as well as for wholesale and retailers.
The Best Years Pebble Toys are handmade in Bangladesh. They have the World Fair Trade Organisation badge of approval. These toys not only benefit your child’s development but also the lives of Pebble Toys workers.
Large Humpty Dumpty (suitable from birth), Best Years
Best Years are offering a 20% discount exclusive to My Baba readers. To take advantage of this, enter ‘MyBaba20’ at the checkout.