How Sensory Toys Can Encourage Early Development In Children

Children playing and making art and crafts
Sensory toys have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many parents hoping they will encourage early development in their children. Read on to find out more about sensory toys and how they can help your child to grow and develop.

What are sensory toys?

Sensory toys are specially designed to stimulate one or more of the senses, including sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. They are used to help children make sense of the world around them. Sensory toys come in a variety of different forms, ranging from rattles and percussion instruments to crinkly books, shiny surfaces, and xylophones. More and more new sensory toys are coming onto the market all the time, with fidget spinners one of the latest trends.
Box of sensory toys

Who are sensory toys for?

All children can benefit from sensory toys. They can help promote physical and cognitive development in children of all ages, including babies. However, they are particularly useful for children with autism since they often have sensory sensitivities. Autistic children can struggle to process everyday sensory information. The right toys can help kids on the spectrum to develop their senses, improve focus, learn language and social skills, and enhance their motor skills.

The benefits of sensory toys for child development

Sensory toys can help children to develop in a number of ways, from strengthening brain development and hand-eye coordination abilities to improving fine and gross motor skills.
Kids showing off their work in the classroom

Cognitive ability

Sensory toys can help to strengthen cognitive ability in children, helping them to think, explore and figure things out. As well as helping them to learn how to complete more complex tasks due to constructing more nerve connections in the brain's pathways, their hand-eye coordination will also improve with the right sensory toys.

Language development

Sensory toys can improve language development in children. This is because they’ll be encouraged to talk about the toys, including the new shapes or textures they come across. You can assist your child with their language practice by using descriptive vocabulary, using words like sticky, smooth, or gooey, for example. Ask them questions during their sensory play to encourage their language development.
Baby playing on a baby gym

Fine and gross motor skills

Children’s fine and gross motor skills can be strengthened when they play with sensory toys, helping them to better coordinate the muscle groups needed for both small, fiddly tasks and larger movements. Playing with sensory toys involves the use of hands and feet and sometimes even the mouth. Sensory bins, bottles and bags are good examples, requiring children to use their hands to pick up and explore items. They might pick them out using a pincer grip, squish them with their palm, and push them around with their fingers. A baby gym is a great choice for improving gross motor skills since they can use their arms and legs to touch the dangling toys.

Social interaction

Sensory toys can help to encourage social interaction, helping children to play with others in a positive manner. They can learn skills such as sharing and turn-taking and decision making as well as communicate politely. Playing with sensory toys in a social setting can also help to improve children’s confidence and self-esteem.

Girl playing with pink slimeThe best sensory toys in 2021

There’s a huge range of sensory toys on the market in 2021. Classic toys such as rattles and xylophones remain popular due to their obvious benefits for children’s development. However, there are new types becoming available all the time.
Gelli/slime play: Gelli and slime toys are the ideal sensory toys for children of all ages. The unique slimy texture and bright colours make them great for messy play sessions that will keep kids entertained for hours!
Fidget spinners: Studies show that fidget toys like spinners can help children to self-regulate. Those with sensory processing dysfunction, autism, ADHD and anxiety can benefit greatly due to the tactile sensory input and repetitive motor movements associated with these toys.
Child playing with kinetic sand
Kinetic sand: Playing with kinetic sand can be great for a child’s development. Whilst it’s similar to wet sand in that it can be shaped by their little hands, it has the benefit of not drying out. Kinetic sand can improve fine motor skills as well as social and emotional development.
Water/sand tables: Sand and water provide endless opportunities for sensory play. As well as allowing children to take in new information through their senses, they can also help to educate in areas such as mathematics and science. For example, children can learn concepts such as volume. Sand and water tables are very affordable these days, making them more accessible than ever before. 
Sensory toys have been around for generations, helping to encourage early development in children of all ages. Browse our fantastic range of sensory toys here at PoundToy, at prices to suit all budgets.

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