From birth, babies begin using the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Children learn through their senses, with sensory development critical to a child’s overall health, development, and wellbeing.
What is Sensory Development?
Sensory development refers to a child’s ever-increasing ability to learn through their senses. Essentially, it refers to the way in which little children explore the world through their senses.
The brain receives information through the senses and learns how to process that information correctly. The body can then react accordingly and the child knows how to respond.
While a certain degree of sensory development occurs naturally through stimuli in the environment, there are many ways parents and educators can enhance all aspects of a child’s growth and development.
The more information that the brain processes, the greater it develops.
However, too much stimulation from surroundings, such as visits from family members, loud TVs, busy supermarkets, and even rides in the car, can quickly overload a young baby’s sensory system.
Including sensory development activities in a child’s routine can prepare them for changes around them, different settings, and everyday situations.
In other words, parents can help a child’s development through sensory activities, keeping in mind that a child’s sensory needs change as they age.
Examples of Sensory Activities
Any activity that stimulates the various senses is beneficial for a child’s development.
Parents can include different textures, colors, shapes, sounds, smells, and tastes, for example, into daily activities and routine play.
Some activities, such as trying new foods, stimulate several senses (in this case taste, smell, sight, and touch) at the same time.
For babies, there are tons of toys that engage multiple senses. Think toys that play tunes and make different sounds, have parts that a baby can push, pull, twist and turn, use a variety of bright colors, and so on.
Other great ideas include textured books, pop-up books, bubbles, baby massage, bath toys, sensory balls, edible sand, baby-safe paint, and DIY sensory boards.
For toddlers, finger painting, shadow play, bubble wrap, play dough, magnets, scented soft toys, and balloons are a few ideas of things to use in sensory activities.
As children get older, musical instruments, playground equipment, mud kitchens, water play areas, edible paints, and DIY sensory tubs are just a few examples of how to incorporate sensory play.
Why is Sensory Development Important?
As already mentioned, sensory development is essential for a child’s growth and wellbeing.
Overall, it helps with the development of language, motor skills, problem-solving ability, memory, and cognitive skills. In short, the brain cannot develop fully without sensory input.
Sensory development is the basis of a child’s perception. In turn, the development of perception enhances concentration and attention, such as the following:
- Aids with social development and personal growth.
- Helps a child to learn how to identify danger.
- Enhances creativity and fosters adaptability.
- Encourages mindfulness, which can support emotional development.