The Importance of Sensory Stimulation for Babies
As soon as you’re born, you rely on your senses to become familiar with your environment, recognize loved ones, and gain comfortability. And it is with our senses that we explore, gain cognitive skills, and try to understand the world.
By listening, touching, tasting, smelling, and watching, babies begin to receive and retain information from all around them. In fact, the more they stimulate their senses, the more information they can retain.
This is why many of us can recall a childhood memory when we smell a specific scent. Perhaps the smell of gardenias brings you back to your mother’s garden or lumber reminds you of your father’s workshop. Whatever the scent may be, it has the power to bring you back to a very specific time or even moment.
This is no phenomenon, it is actually a critical part of your brain development. That is why it is so important to give your baby sensory play.
What is Sensory Play?
Firstly, sensory play engages not just the five primary senses, but also body awareness and balance.
Sensory play includes various activities that engage one’s senses. This could include listening to various sounds, feeling the difference between textures, and analyzing visuals.
With consistent sensory play, children can strengthen their sensory-related functions and improve their neuroplasticity.
Sensory play encourages children to use their natural skills and scientific processes, such as observation, while they play. So, while these activities may just seem like playtime to them, they are actually create strong connections in their brain.
The brain has trillions of brain cells known as neurons that establish connections called synapses. During the first three years of life, babies’ brains grow at a rapid speed, going from 50 trillion to over 900 trillion synapses!
With consistent sensory play, children can strengthen their sensory-related functions and improve their neuroplasticity. This neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change synapses and rewire pathways.
In other, less fancy, words; sensory play exercises children’s processing capabilities to enhance brain development.
The Benefits of Sensory Stimulation
As we’ve already discussed, smell is strongly linked to memories. However, research shows that the rest of our memories are scattered throughout the brain’s sensory centers. Therefore, sensory play enhances memory function.
There is no right or wrong way to go about sensory play, as long as the child is engaging one of their senses. This encourages inclusion when playing with children that have disabilities, language barriers, or other obstacles.
Motor skills are predetermined actions that the brain is wired to execute. Sensory play helps children repeat movements to improve their motor skills and reflexes.
It is no secret that children love making messes and playing with anything that they can get their hands on. Fortunately, sensory play encourages these actions, as they allow the child to role play and use their imagination.
Sensory play is a great way to get an upset or wound up child to calm down and settle in their environment. It is common for children involved in sensory activities to become absorbed in their playtime, as they explore different objects, textures, scents, and scenes! This is a great way for them to learn how to ground themselves and practice mindfulness when they become overwhelmed.
By discovering new tastes, smells, sounds, and sights, children learn different words to describe various things. This expands their vocabulary and improves their overall language development.
Children can enjoy sensory play in any environment, from the living room to the outdoors! In fact, parents can create sensory activities from virtually anything within their own home! For messier play stations, such as slime or sand, you can use tubs or plastic coverings. Or you can take the fun outside and not have to worry about the mess!
Sensory play relies on our natural scientific processes, including observation, experimentation, and research. This creates a sense of curiosity that requires scientific thinking to test hypotheses.
Sensory play is fun! Plain and simple. Children like to stretch, bang, spill, and touch things to learn their mechanics. So while they’re having fun, they’re learning too!
Sensory Play at Home
The great thing about sensory play is that you can start off by using things around the house to make:
Sensory tubs are filled with loose materials, such as sand, stones, or seeds, so children can familiarize themselves with the texture.
Sensory tables have various items, like books or figurines, that children can interact with.
How Sophie Stimulates the Senses
Sophie la Girafe is great for more than just teething babies. In fact, each part of her is designed to stimulate a specific sense:
Taste/Smell: Sophie la Girafe is made from 100% rubber from Hevea trees, which naturally has a pleasant taste and smell.
Sight: Sophie’s brown spots offer a stark contrast from her cream body, engaging babies’ color vision.
Hearing: When you squeeze Sophie she lets out a playful squeak, grabbing babies' attention!
Touch: Sophie has a variety of textures that babies can explore, from her ribbed neck to her smooth body.
Sophie la Girafe also has several other items that are specifically designed to stimulate senses, including:
We will continue to provide the safest, healthiest toys for your precious little ones, so you can continue being the best parents!
With Love and Gratitude,
The Calisson Toy Family