While most would say that formal education takes place sitting at a desk in school, the primary way that our little ones learn is actually through play! Children (and even adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage all of their senses - through touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing.
What is sensory play? Simply put, sensory play is any activity that stimulates your little one’s senses. As your baby begins to grow and develop, providing opportunities for them to actively explore their world through sensory play is crucial to the development of their fine motor skills and sensory processing. Along with a variety of other benefits of sensory play, this type of interactive playtime helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, leading to cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction skills, and problem-solving abilities.
While you may be wondering how and when to start sensory play with your baby, it is important to remember that the desire to engage in sensory exploration comes naturally for little ones. You are your baby’s first playmate, and you are equipped with all that you need to provide their necessary stimulation in the early days. The activities you do together, such as cuddling, making faces, talking, singing, reading stories, and exploring interesting objects and toys, are all rich sources of stimulation for your little one. Truly, all they need while engaging in sensory experiences and sensory activities is your support and encouragement! The options for sensory activities for baby are endless. Sensory play for babies and toddlers can range from something as simple as blowing bubbles so that they can watch them float and feel them land on their skin, to scrunching paper so that they can hear the noise. You can also use everyday activities such as mealtime or bathtimes to introduce sensory play ideas or incorporate various toys and mats into tummy time play.
Toys & Gear for Sensory Play
However, as your little one grows and begins to move beyond tummy time, it is important to continue to choose toys and hands-on activities that will engage all of your baby’s senses throughout all stages of their development. At Infantino, we truly believe that learning through play is the best way! As a result, we strive to create products that promote sensory development. For example, our Sit, Spin, & Stand Entertainer 360 Seat & Activity Table™ encourages both infants and toddlers to actively engage in sensory play. They can spin 360 degrees while exploring six different interactive toys, which include light-up buttons that activate music and sound effects, allowing them to learn through movement, sights, sounds, and touch. Once your baby begins to walk, the entertainer can be transformed into a stand-and-play activity table with three rolling animal pals.
The Spin & Slide DJ Panda™ is another fun toy that will help your little one engage in sight, sound, and touch sensory play! Its funky beats, busy switches, and silly songs are perfect for babies who are six months and older. They can push, slide, and spin the turntable knobs to activate the crossfader and pitch effects, which will change the music and activating super sound effects. This type of sensory play for infants reinforces cause and effect, helping to connect those brain pathways and problem-solving skills with sensory materials. Also, the turntables light up and have rotating rims for record scratching sound effects, and the beads on the headphones are fun to slide and spin.
Our Fox Playtime Pal also has multi-sensory features including different textures, rattling noises, and bright colors. This soft toy is perfect for baby to cuddle with and is easy to travel with - easily connecting to a car seat or stroller.
Finally, our 4 Modes Learning Peacock provides a great way to promote sensory learning as well! Each of the peacock’s feathers plays different musical notes and songs while incorporating a variety of textured fabrics. This entertaining toy also teaches your little one about colors and letters, all while engaging them in fine motor and sensory play!
Overall, sensory play is so important and beneficial for your little one when it comes to developing hand-eye coordination and acknowledging sensory stimulation. Encouraging your newborns and toddlers to engage all of their senses by providing a wide variety of opportunities can help them learn and grow!