Ninety percent of your baby’s brain will have developed by the time they reach three years old! Each second after they’re born, they’re making new nueron connections as the 100 billion brain cells learn to connect and communicate with each other. It’s no wonder they do a lot of sleeping – it’s an enormous amount of work.
So how do you encourage this natural brain development?
Love, attention, good, safety, sleep are all essential ingredients to healthy brain development. It’s also important to understand how their interactions with the people and environment around them shape this development.
The smiles, conversations (albeit often one-sided) songs and cuddles we give babies are not just for our benefit. They are fundamental to our baby’s learning. Done right and done consistently, they’re connecting their actions with positive responses and helping them work out how the world around them works.
Similarly, their interactions with ‘things’ – toys, furniture, their own bodies – shape their understanding of how the world around them works and their own place in it. With each turn, twist and squeeze, they further recognise how their environment reacts as they engage with it. Push that soft toy and it gives way, squeeze this chair leg and it doesn’t budge – there’s a lot to take in!
So what is baby sensory?
Baby sensory activities involve a wide range of creative play, massage, tummy time, movements, and visual and touch interactions with the world around your baby to encourage brain development.
There’s a lot of activity, play and interactions that will naturally happen around any baby growing up in a stable, loving home. But even for attentive parents, there are ways to encourage kids to explore and develop using techniques and toys that stimulate aspects of your child ‘s brain.
What are examples of baby sensory activities I can do at home?
Baby sensory play will change as your baby grows. At 3 months, it might look like creating an interesting environment in which they practice time on their tummy. Or playmats like these encourage your baby to develop hand-eye coordination and engage their focus on the shapes and patterns in front of them.
Baby sensory activities for similar aged babies might involve massage (there are great classes like these where you can learn more how to do this) or just reading simple black and white books to your baby.
As they move into toddler years, it might involve exploring different materials for them to touch. Water and sand play help them understand the textures and forces of different substances. Climbing and soft play will help them understand more about their bodies and what they’re capable of in a physical space.
Sensory play can continue with new emphases all the way through pre-school and school aged children. Threading, cutting and drawing are all excellent ways to build fine motor skills – connecting your kid’s brain keenly with more intricate movements while also understanding more about the properties of tools and how they can be used to interact with their environment.
What baby sensory toys should you buy?
The best baby sensory toys really depend on your little one’s age, so here’s some ideas for the best baby sensory toys by age group
Baby sensory toys for 3-month-olds
Baby sensory toys for 6-month-olds
- These feet and hand finders from Lamaze to encourage body awareness
- This musical playmat that connects sound and vision
Baby sensory toys for 9-month-olds
- This light up spiky sensory ball to build dexterity
- This gorgeous stacking tower made from silicone to build hand and eye coordination
Baby sensory toys for 1 to 2-year-olds
- This wooden shape sorting box to help build shape and colour awareness
- This large assortment of blocks for learning to stack and create new structures
Baby sensory toys for 2-year-olds
- This sound book that allows toddlers to match sounds with pictures
- This balance bike to help develop early balance skills
Baby sensory toys for 3-year-olds
- These super creative life size building toys for active play
- This LCD writing board for mark making and pen grip skills
Why do I need baby sensory toys for bath time?
Bath time is a great time for kids to explore a new environment and understand both their own bodies and new toys. We recommend having separate ‘bath toys’ designed to explore new shapes and make the most of the watery world around them. Here’s some suggestions to help your little one’s build dexterity, get creative and enjoy new sights and sounds.
Try some of these bath time sensory toys
- We love these extremely cute and very imaginative build your own bath toys
- These very affordable bath time crayons get your kids creating without much supervision needed
- Our own Pebbl bath time brush is a great way to get kids learning how to clean themselves
- This genius set of suction bath time pipes and cogs to help them build their own bath time factory
If you’re looking for more ways to make bath time fun, you can also read more here.