Sensory Toys for Child Development

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A sensory toy is basically any object that stimulates at least one of the human senses. Sensory toys, therefore, encompass a lot of things, including simple things, like dry rice, or complex ones, like the busy board. 

You can classify a swing set as sensory toys similar to kinetic sand and puzzles. This further widens your options, causing confusion as to what you should use to effectively stimulate your child’s senses. 

Fortunately, you can now eliminate the confusion as this article is now around to help uncover everything about sensory toys. You will also learn the things these can do for your child depending on their age.

What are Sensory Toys?

Just by looking at the name, you can immediately define sensory toys as items designed to stimulate or activate your senses, whether it’s the sense of taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. These toys work well for children on the spectrum. The reason is that these are effective in calming them down and providing them the best sensory experience, specifically the ones they prefer. 

You have different choices for sensory toys since they come in different forms – among which are musical instruments, fidget toys, sensory bins, and soft-textured balls. Find out what specific activities your child likes and dislikes, so you can choose a toy that can give them the ultimate sensory experience. 

Your choice of toy should not also be based solely on your budget. Check the toy’s size, too. Ensure that you also spend time checking the environment your child is exposed to and the primary sensory system that the toy will stimulate. 

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    Once you have chosen one, expect it to greatly help your child’s development. The reason is that the toys are effective in honing creativity, imagination, and exploration. Children will have fun and can keep themselves engaged as they get to explore their environment with the help of their senses. 

    How Do They Work?

    Sensory toys function by mainly stimulating your senses and giving you therapeutic benefits, especially for those who have developmental disorders or sensory processing difficulties. Basically, they can give children the following sensory experiences:

    • Sensory stimulation – The toys are available in different shapes, textures, and colors, thereby engaging your child’s visual and tactile senses.
    • Calming/soothing effects – Several sensory toys are designed in a way that they can calm down those who are anxious and have sensory sensitivities.
    • Fine motor development – Fine motor skills are honed with the help of sensory toys as your child will have to grasp and manipulate these objects.
    • Sensory integration – Expect sensory toys to be of help in effectively processing and responding to sensory details and information.
    • Visual and auditory stimulation – A lot of sensory toys have vibrant colors and are designed with movements, which is a huge help in engaging visual senses. Many of these toys also feature sounds, thereby offering auditory discrimination and processing.
    • Tactile exploration – Sensory toys with different textures are also of help in encouraging sensory discrimination.

    How Can Sensory Toys Support a Child’s Learning and Development?

    Sensory toys are definitely made in a way that they can support the learning and development of children. It has several benefits for kids regardless of age and ability. Every sensory experience gives kids the chance to grow and develop.

    By keeping your child’s senses engaged, sensory toys can support their learning and development by:

    • Improving problem-solving and cognitive skills
    • Honing gross and fine motor skills
    • Improving language and communication
    • Boosting imagination and creativity
    • Honing emotional intelligence and self-regulation
    • Fostering collaborative play and social interaction
    • Alleviating stress and anxiety

    To achieve such benefits, you just have to make sure that you are choosing the right toy. In that case, you have to consider the unique preferences and needs of your child. Consider the following vital factors in making your choice:

    • Age-appropriateness – Ensure that the toy adheres to the developmental stage and unique abilities of your child.
    • Level of safety – As much as possible, check the materials used in creating the products. Ensure that the sensory toys adhere to safety standards and do not consist of any toxic material.
    • Sensory input – Determine the specific senses targeted by the sensory toy. Consider the sensory preference of your child, too.
    • Versatility – Look for toys capable of providing various forms of engagement. It should be versatile that you can use it in different ways.
    • Durability – Find out how durable and sturdy the sensory toy is. Ensure that it can withstand constant use. It should also be easy and quick to clean.

    If you consider all these factors, it will be easy for you to find the best sensory toy capable of captivating your child and stimulating their senses.

    Sensory Toy Options for Kids

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    Now, it’s time to discover some of your best options when it comes to children’s sensory toys. All the toys here aim to stimulate your child’s senses and ensure that they will grow and develop:

    #1 – Rattle and Teether in One (12 months and under)

    You can look for a sensory toy, which serves as both a teether and a rattle. You can give this toy to your little one once they reach four months. The reason is that this is the time when babies start learning how to grasp.

    #2 – Sensory Beads (3 years up)

    There are also sensory beads in the market that come in various geometric shapes and have different textures. All of them are squishy, making it possible for your child to squeeze them, thereby stimulating their sense of touch.

    The good thing about these sensory beads is that your child can also stack or thread them. The toy also has cards with patterns that children can follow, turning the toy into a kind of pre-coding or pre-logic game.

    Kids are fond of building things using these toys. These sensory beads can even challenge them through the included patterns.

    #3 – Outdoor Play Set/Swing Set (3 years to 7 years)

    It is also a great idea to invest in an outdoor play or swing set for your child. This outdoor play set can provide your child with various activities designed to hone their ability to detect and handle movements.

    It also works in honing their skills to detect their own strength and movement while their body functions. Once all these systems are developed, there is a high chance for your child to boost their physical strength, balance, and capacity to withstand various forms of movement.

    #4 – Sensory Balls (0-month+)

    For babies and infants who need sensory stimulation, sensory balls are perfect for them. You can get these balls even for infants who are just a couple of days old. Go for sensory balls made of natural rubber and come in a set with various textures and sizes.

    The good thing about these balls, which are available in different sizes, colors, textures, and shapes, is that they can boost sensory stimulation whether visual or tactile. Since the balls are constructed out of squishy and soft rubber, teething toddlers will be able to gnaw at them safely.

    #5 – Baby Fidget Toy (3 months+)

    Invest in baby fidget toys for your kids, too. These are toys designed to occupy the small fingers of young infants. What’s great about the baby fidget toy is that it provides open-ended play opportunities.

    Your baby can pop, grasp, hold, and twist the brightly-colored shapes so they will enjoy a fun and exciting tactile experience. They will also love the amazing high-contrast patterns and rattle sounds that come along with it. This can definitely promote better visual and auditory development.

    #6 – Plush Book (0 month+)

    You can also give your baby a soft book, which aims to foster literacy skills at such an early age. Made out of textured fabric, your baby will surely enjoy looking at the pictures. You can read him/her charming tales through these plush books.

    It is also possible to hone their sense of touch by letting them thumb through the book’s textured pages. Some of these books even come with various fabrics, crinkle textures, embroidered art, and a rattle and squeaker – all of which can give them a much better sensory adventure.

    #7 – Shape Sorter (6 months+)

    This particular toy is ideal for babies six months and up. It features colorful blocks with unique textures and shapes, thereby stimulating tactile exploration. Your kids will be fond of experimenting as they push each piece through cloth and stretchy bands composing the cube.

    What’s even better about this sensory toy is that it is lightweight while still being sturdy. This makes it perfect for your child’s small hands, letting them enjoy it either at home or anywhere.

    Conclusion

    Sensory toys are indeed great instruments to support a child’s development. Especially once they get into preschool age, you can give them more sensory stimulation without overwhelming them.

    Regardless of your child’s age, they will definitely enjoy playing with sensory toys. They are also effective in boosting your child’s concentration and keeping them calm in various situations.