Sensory toys and activities for babies, toddlers and older

Sensory toys and activities for babies, toddlers and older

Sensory play refers to activities that stimulate and engage a child's senses—sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch—in a fun and educational way. These activities provide valuable opportunities for babies, toddlers, and older children to explore and make sense of the world around them. Sensory play helps develop various skills, including cognitive, fine and gross motor, social, and emotional skills.

How to Choose Sensory Toys

When selecting sensory toys for your child, it's important to consider their age, developmental stage, and interests. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  1. Safety: Ensure that the toys are free from small parts or potential choking hazards, and made from non-toxic materials.

  2. Age Appropriateness: Choose toys that are suitable for your child's age and developmental level. For infants, opt for toys that are soft, easy to grasp, and make gentle sounds. Toddlers may enjoy toys with different textures, shapes, and colors, while older children might prefer more complex puzzles or building sets.

  3. Variety: Provide a range of sensory experiences by offering toys that target different senses, such as toys that make sounds, have different textures, or provide visual stimulation.

  4. Open-Endedness: Look for toys that can be used in multiple ways, allowing for open-ended play and creativity.

Sensory Play Ideas for Toddlers

  1. Sensory Bins: Fill a large container with materials like rice, dried beans, sand, or water. Add scoops, cups, and toys for scooping and pouring.

  2. Playdough or Clay: Let your toddler explore and manipulate playdough or clay, which helps improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

  3. Sensory Bags: Fill a resealable plastic bag with hair gel, glitter, or water and small toys. Seal it tightly and let your child squeeze, squish, and manipulate the bag.

  4. Texture Walk: Create a sensory path by placing different textures (e.g., foam, bubble wrap, fabric) on the floor. Encourage your toddler to walk barefoot and explore the different sensations.

Sensory Game Ideas for Preschoolers and Kindergarten

  1. Scented Guessing Game: Fill small containers with various scents, such as vanilla, lemon, or lavender. Blindfold your child and have them identify the scents by smelling.

  2. Sensory Scavenger Hunt: Hide objects with different textures around the house or yard. Provide your child with a list of clues and let them explore to find the hidden treasures.

  3. Sound Matching: Create sound cards with different noises (e.g., animal sounds, musical instruments) and have your child match the sounds to the corresponding pictures or objects.

Outdoor Sensory Play

  1. Nature Walk: Take your child on a nature walk and encourage them to touch and explore different natural materials, such as leaves, flowers, and rocks.

  2. Water Play: Set up a water table or fill buckets with water and let your child splash, pour, and experiment with water toys.

  3. Sensory Garden: Create a garden area with plants that have different smells, textures, and colors. Let your child explore the garden using their senses.

Touch Games for the Holidays

  1. Sensory Stockings: Fill stockings with different textured items like feathers, jingle bells, pinecones, or small toys. Let your child reach inside the stockings and guess what they are touching.

  2. Festive Sensory Bins: Create holiday-themed sensory bins using materials like fake snow, red and green rice, or small ornaments. Provide scoops, cookie cutters, and holiday-themed toys for added play.

Toys that Help Develop Sensory Perception

  1. Texture Balls: Soft, squishy, or bumpy balls provide tactile stimulation and encourage sensory exploration.

  2. Musical Instruments: Drums, xylophones, and shakers help children explore different sounds and develop their auditory senses.

  3. Building Blocks: Blocks with various textures, sizes, and shapes allow children to explore tactile sensations and enhance fine motor skills.

Remember, sensory play should always be supervised, and it's essential to choose activities and toys that are appropriate for your child's age and developmental stage. Engaging your child in sensory play not only provides enjoyable experiences but also promotes their overall development and learning.

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