Tops Tips: Sensory play for your baby
Sensory play is fundamental to children’s growth and development as it engages and appeals to one or more of the child’s senses. It also encourages children to create, explore, investigate and experiment.
How does it work?
Each time a child comes across a sensory provocation a neuron (brain cell) connects to another neuron, establishing new connections in the brain. Imagine a tiny thread of cotton connecting the two!
Occurring in the first two years of life, sensory play is characterised most by learning occurring through the senses and manipulation of objects. The human brain thrives on variety, stimulation and the unexpected. For children, play with sensory rich resources offers just that.
We recently spoke to our friends at Mini Magoos who gave us their top tips for introducing sensory play at home.
Top 5 Tips for sensory play at home:
1. Plan activities when the time is right!
Babies have an optimum time when they are not hungry or sleepy when play and learning is most effective. Unfortunately, it must be on their terms, not ours! If a baby has other needs that need to be met, trying to play and engage can be stressful, exhausting and frustrating. Learning to read baby’s cues for this comes with time and practice, give yourself some time to get in the swing of things can make all the difference.
2. Engage with baby!
Today’s world is full of distractions! Especially in our own homes. Phones, TV, washing, ironing, cleaning…. The list is endless. Take a small portion of your day to engage with baby. Fully immerse yourself in what they are doing. This type of social interaction is so important for bonding between you both. It’s also excellent for baby’s development in eye contact, facial expressions and talking to name but a few.
3. Sensory play doesn’t need to cost the earth!
Ever wondered why baby likes the wrapping paper more than the gift? This is exactly the reason, its way more interesting! There are lots of toys that you can buy to aid development, but with a bit of imagination you can make and source lots of things that will bring hours of amusement at a fraction of the cost. Pans, wooden spoons, plastic bottles, mirrors are all excellent items to use to start off. One of our favourite is Glitter Bottles: clear plastic bottle filled with glitter and food colouring. Hours of amusement for baby to start exercising those vision skills.
4. Use your voice!
All babies learn through imitation. It doesn’t matter what you say to them at this stage, just hearing your voice is a massive comfort due to hearing it for so long in the womb! All babies learn through imitation and this is their first opportunity to start developing language skills. Want them to learn more complex language skills? Start to sing! It doesn’t matter if you are in tune, they don’t know that just yet! But what they do like is the different rhythms, tempos and pitches your clever voice can make. Give it a try!
5. Build up a tolerance!
Coming into the world can be a stage of huge adjustment to baby. Some babies relish it, others take some more time to adjust depending on their individual personality. This is important when introducing them to new stimuli. Can they be overwhelmed or over stimulated easily? Does this cause them distress? Try new things slowly and don’t be surprised if you need to build up a tolerance to things. One round of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ may be all baby can take at this stage. And that is ok! They will learn to find their way in time, just help them to feel comfortable in their surroundings.