Babies begin to process information from their surroundings using their senses in the womb. They feel the vibrations from mom’s voice, see what is around them, hear what is going on, taste and smell different things, and feel the different textures around them.
Babies gain additional skills by engaging with their surroundings and developing sensory processing abilities. Some infant toys and products are better at allowing children to explore and strengthen their sensory processing skills.
The Best Sensory Toys for Infants
1. A deck of cards
When babies are first born, they have the ability to see colors in their most vibrant form. Because the rods and cones in their eyes have not finished developing, the hues black, white, and red are the ones that stand out the most to them. For a brand new infant, the two of hearts or the five of spades might be quite aesthetically interesting cards to look at. Because they are unfamiliar and novel to babies, cards are a fantastic tool for encouraging them to concentrate their eyes on something specific.
Infants quickly tire of their toys and gravitate toward newer and more varied playthings as they get older. Try this activity with the younger children. To get the baby’s attention, move the card back and forth between eight and ten inches from her face as you do so. Try moving it up and down to see if she can keep up with it after she’s able to focus on it. Her ability to focus her vision and the coordination of the minute muscles found surrounding her eyes both benefit from this activity. It is a great way to improve your visual-motor skills, and it will make it easier for you to track and even read a print line in the future.
2. Wrist rattles and bootie rattles
Babies learn about cause and effect at a very young age. Rattles are a great way to teach this. When the baby moves her arm and hears the rattle, she will turn her head to see where the sound is coming from. It also helps her learn about her body and how it works. It is an important part of sensory processing that will help with gross motor skills and coordination later.
Studies have found that babies love looking at their parents’ faces. More than anything, I enjoy looking at other babies’ faces and their reflections in a mirror. Mirrors are visually stimulating for babies and play an essential role in developing their sense of vision.
4. Music boxes
The left brain controls the left side of the body; the right brain controls the right side. The corpus callosum is a connection point between the left and right sides of the brain. When we process music, it helps to develop the corpus callosum. It is important because it helps with higher-level cognitive skills later in life. Processing music also helps to develop our sense of hearing which is already formed at birth but continues to get better throughout the baby’s first year.
5. Beach balls
Using beach balls can assist in the development of balance, core strength, and overall body awareness in your young child. Experiment with different activities that move on the beach ball. Place your child on the ball on her tummy or back, then roll her in all directions (forward, backward, and side to side). She will gain a better understanding of the effects that gravity has on her body as a result of this. The next step is to place her on the ball and gently bounce her back and forth while supporting her torso. It will teach her balance, which is a vital ability for when she takes their first steps. She will learn balance through doing this.
6. Taggie blankets
Taggie blankets are a type of blanket that babies love. The soft fabric and tags on the blanket feel good against their skin and help their finger dexterity.
7. Crinkle books
Books with crinkly noises stimulate a baby’s sense of hearing and touch and teach them about cause and effect. Babies learn quickly that they can make the noise and that it will happen again.
8. Teethers with lots of textures
Babies discover the world by putting objects in their mouths. It helps them understand objects’ texture, density, size, and shape. Babies need to explore different textures to develop their sensory processing skills. With the proper guidance and exposure to safe objects, babies can learn about the world through their senses.
The Best Sensory Toys
Almost everyone knows about the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Babies learn about the world by using their senses. Sensory input is essential for children’s development because it helps them with problem-solving, coordination, body awareness, and social interaction.
Toys offer a fun and stimulating way for children to explore their senses. When playing with toys, children learn about the world around them by taking in and responding to different types of sensory input. For example, babies often chew on toys to stimulate their senses of taste and smell.
Taf Toys Tissue Wonder Box
This invention is excellent for both you and your child. If you have noticed how much kids love to pull wet wipes out of the packet, this holder will stop them from doing that. It will also make it more fun for the child because they can grab them easier.
The colorful box, decorated with different images on each side, comes with eight pieces of sheer organza in different colors. The box is made from tough cardboard, while the top is plastic designed to be soft on any mitts reaching inside.
For tiny children, this toy is a lot of fun. It helps them learn about colors, and it also helps stimulate their senses of sound and touch. This toy can be used differently during different stages of a child’s development.
Sassy Light-Up Rainbow Reel
This fun sensory kit includes lights, colors, sounds, and textures. It helps the baby’s hand-eye coordination. The wheels’ rubberized domes are easy to spin. This wheel changes colors when moving. Tiny balls tumbling within make a rain sound. Toys include a rubbery hoop around the stand and a spinning sphere in the center of the wheel.
This toy can stick to flat, smooth surfaces thanks to its sucker. We found it great for keeping our testers occupied in their highchairs while waiting for dinner.
Early Learning Centre Soft Sensory Balls
Sensory balls are excellent for assisting children in developing motor skills and spatial awareness. The Early Learning Centre offers six packs of these soft, light, easy-grip models. Each has a unique form and texture to excite the vital sense of touch. They can be grasped, rolled, flung, and squeezed with tiny hands.
Given the many different forms, they all feel and behave differently. One has smooth, round indentations, while another is dotted with little bumps, and one is covered in ridges, for example. Our testers were drawn to the bright hues and enjoyed watching them roll around while feeling their texture with podgy digits.
Mushie Stacking Cups
This toy can be utilized in various settings because of its adaptability. Stackable cups are helpful for multiple tasks, including building, arranging, and sorting. They are also beneficial in the shower and the tub. The cups have a matte finish, which makes them tactile for little hands. They’re also fun to push over when they’re in a tower.
The pastel shades on this toy are trendy and look good in any space. It is handy because kids (who famously don’t like to put their toys away) can nest the toys inside each other when they’re done playing.
A sensory play experience does not require a lot of money in terms of special equipment. Something that rattles is all you need. This maraca is smaller than most percussion instruments and has a textured, easy-grip handle.
This toy is suitable for babies. Babies like to move around, and this toy rewards them with noise. The toy is also very durable. Babies can hit it against things, and it will still work. Plus, the toy is brightly colored, which makes it fun for babies to look at.
Hape Penguin Musical Wobbler
This fun little guy, made from eco-friendly wood and long-lasting plastic, grabbed the attention of the babies we showed him to. He combines movement and sound for a multisensory experience.
This penguin wobbles and spins when you push it. It makes a tinkly sound and flaps its wings. It is composed of thick plastic and has a weighted base to prevent it from tipping. This toy helps children with their hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Edushape Sensory Puzzle Blocks
Building blocks are a classic toy for babies. These blocks are different because they are colorful and have a bumpy texture. They also have different shapes. It will help babies learn how to solve problems, focus, and recognize shapes.
They are made from a lightweight material, so they won’t get damaged when stacked and pushed over. They are also squishy and durable, perfect for toddlers aged two and up.
The Little Sensory Box My First Words Flashcards
These flashcards are perfect for toddlers starting to find their first words. They feature everyday objects with color themes and are bright and bold for visual stimulation. You can use these for sensory play by helping your child categorize things, hunting for matching items, or making the right sounds. Wipe clean and hardy; these cards will last a long time.
Jaques of London Bouncing Bunnies
This toy is made from wood approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. The toy is solid and can resist being broken. Our chief tester tried to break it but couldn’t.
When you push down on each little cylinder, a hidden spring mechanism makes it jump into the air. It’s captivating to watch, and our nine-month-old wrapped its sticky fingers around it and clamped its gums around it. (Thankfully, the paint is water-based and safe for this.)
This game is brightly colored and appeals to babies’ sense of sight and touch. Additionally, it promotes the growth of fine motor skills and classification capabilities. The carrots on the base are painted in different colors so the baby can learn to group things by color.
Etta Loves Sycamore Teething Comforter.
Patterns help young babies develop their eyesight and focus. Babies learn to make sense of images, understand colors, and see how things are connected.
The pattern on the fabric has been designed with help from an orthoptist. An orthoptist is a person who knows a lot about how our eyes work together and with the brain. The pattern has been designed to help stimulate the connections between a child’s eyes and brain.
This wooden ring is suitable for little hands to clasp and gums to gnaw on. Our tester liked to wave it around and watch the fabric fly.
Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball
This ball is designed with bumps that are easy to grab. The bumps are different colors and textures and have unique features. Some of the bumps have beads that rattle around. The colors and textures will attract babies. Babies will also love the sound the beads make when they move around.
Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set
When you push down on these fun little suckers, the vacuum you create lets them connect or any other surface. Then you can bend, stick, stack, and make anything they can think of. When it comes time to separate them, they grudgingly peel apart with a “pop!” It’s a mild and absorbing exercise that promotes creativity, fine motor development, and experimentation while stimulating various senses.
Simple Dimple Fidget Popper
People of all ages like to play with Simple Dimples. These are toys that have colorful bubbles on them. When you push down on the bubbles, you hear a popping sound. There are different versions of Simple Dimples, including ones that are smaller and ones that can be attached to a keychain.
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether
A popular baby toy is the Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Teether. Babies enjoy the soft and colorful tubes and the rattling sound and biting on the toy. The Winkel can also be cooled to provide teething babies with a relaxing sensory experience.
Appash Fidget Cube
One way to reduce anxiety and stress in children is to give them fidgets. Fidgets are objects that the child can play with to help calm down. This particular fidget is popular among the children Dr. Stark sees in her practice. It has six different sides, each with another activity (such as buttons that click and flip, a ball that rolls, or a circle that spins). The fidget can be taken anywhere at home, work, school, or in the car.
iPlay iLearn Bouncy Pals Bull Hopping Horse
Kids who need movement-based input can get it by bouncing. It’s a terrific way to have fun while also getting a good workout. The bouncing bull is also a lot of fun for kids. They will love to climb on it, grab onto the ears, and hop away. And if they want the bull to be bouncier, they can use the hand pump to inflate it more. Plus, the fabric cover is easy to take off and wash.
Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water Mat
This squishy mat is a fun way for babies to play without getting wet. You put air in the outer section and water in the inner section. The babies can look at the sea creatures and touch them. It will help their sense of touch and sight.
Edushape See-Me Sensory Balls
These four sensory balls are covered in different textured nubs to give babies a tactile experience. Babies love working the balls over in their hands, and rolling them, which helps improve dexterity. Watching the balls roll helps babies’ vision get sharper.
Bristle Blocks by Battat Basic Builder Case
Building toys are a classic for young children because they encourage open-ended and imaginative play. They also help promote focus and calmness. These blocks have bristles that make them cling together, which creates a new building challenge. The blocks are available in various sizes, shapes, and colors, allowing children to be creative with their construction. Plus, everything fits inside the included case for easy cleanup and portability.
Kinetic Sand Beach Castle Starter Kit
Kinetic Sand is a fun toy to play with. It feels like wet beach sand but doesn’t make a mess. Kinetic Sand is popular with preschoolers. It never dries out; you can mold it into any shape you want.
This kit includes a great storage box and 2 pounds of Sand. The storage case was a godsend, helping keep play contained and easier to clean up. This Sand sticks to itself well and gives a truly unique tactile sensory experience with its soft and stretchy consistency.
It is a great set for kids who want to have fun at the beach. They can use seven different molds and tools to make their sand castles. The included box has cool textures and ramps, making it a fun space for creating a masterpiece.
Impresa Monkey Noodles Stretchy Sensory Strings
These stretchy sensory noodles are a lot of fun for kids ages 2-3. While they are non-toxic and hypoallergenic, they are not for kids who like to put everything in their mouths.
Each little stretchy rubber string is about 12″ long but can stretch up to 8 feet long. Be careful not to let go of one end when you try that out! They’re an excellent toy for visual and tactile stimulation; toddlers find the wiggly feel intriguing and fun.
These brushes were easy to clean with soap and water. We never tried using them in the dishwasher. They are a great sensory tool on hand, and we found them durable and safe. There are a couple of things to be aware of: some kids might stretch the brushes and let one end go or swing them around and hit something.
Sensory Pop Tubes
These became a huge hit in our family when it came to bathtime! Pouring water through a maze of connected tubes was a lot of fun. It is also really cool outside of the bathtub. These sensory toys provide visual, tactile, and auditory input with crackling sounds, vivid colors, twisty shapes, and jagged accordion edges. Toddlers adore connecting them in twisting forms, peering through them, rolling balls through them, building bracelets and anklets, and making letters and shapes.
Occupational therapists will find these to be of great benefit. They can be utilized in a variety of contexts. In addition to being flexible and free of BPA, they are very easy to connect and disconnect. They are fairly priced and come in a vast selection of colors.
Why Are Sensory Toys Essential?
Sensory toys activate different senses and take kids on a sensory journey. They may appeal to other senses, including:
Touch is sent to the brain through neurons in the skin that are specialized for the purpose. Different receptors in your skin react to other sensations, like pressure, pain, and temperature. Toys intended to excite the sense of touch may feature raised designs or fabric components, a material combination, such as wood and plastic, or switches and knobs that can be flipped or twisted
Many toys are designed to be visually appealing to children. They use bright colors and patterns that contrast with one another. Toys may also have lights or images that are interesting to look at.
Some parents are annoyed by noisy toys that play music or sound effects loudly. Look for toys that have high-quality speakers, volume control, and an on/off switch to avoid too much noise. Toys with gentler noises can stimulate your child’s auditory senses without being too overwhelming.
The smell of your toys comes from the nerve endings in your nose. The smell is related to memory. That’s why when you smell something; it might remind you of a pastime. Toys can smell because they sometimes have arts and crafts supplies or scented plush toys.
Many toys are designed to be chewed on by babies, whether they are teething or not. However, the taste is the sense that is least addressed by toys.
This lesser-known sense informs the brain about the body’s position in space. It involves understanding where your limbs are, whether you are in motion, and where your bodily components are in relation to one another.
You use your proprioceptive sense to reach for objects without looking or to move without looking at your feet. Stark says toys that engage the body’s proprioceptive sense include jumping trampolines or balls, squeezable toys, and balance boards or bikes.
Kids look for toys that give them the sensory input they’re looking for. By providing a selection of toys, you are helping your child to develop their senses. If you notice that your child responds strongly to one toy that stimulates one sense in particular, try to find other toys that engage that same sense. When your child happily plays with a toy for a long time, you know you have found a good one.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sensory Toys for Infants
Some tips on sensory stimulation for babies are holding them up to face level or lying down so they can see your face. Spend time outside the house in a quiet place. Let them suck on clean objects. Play music that is appropriate for their age.
Even though tiny newborn babies don’t need toys because they can’t hold anything or see very well, you will want to start buying them a few weeks later. Babies love looking at things that are brightly colored or have high contrast, and they also love listening to things that make a noise.
Aim to put your baby on their tummy for three short periods each day. As they age, you can gradually increase how long they stay on their stomach each day until they’re spending about an hour total.
Some babies can roll a ball as early as eight months old. Others won’t be able to do it until they are one year old. It is normal. You can begin teaching your child to roll a ball back and forth with them as soon as they can sit up independently.
Sensory toys are designed to help your baby learn about the world. These toys are meant to stimulate your baby through play. Here are some of the most effective sensory toys for your child. These toys can help your baby understand the different colors, noises, and textures they are experiencing for the first time.
Vibrating bouncers can help calm a fussy baby. They move around a lot, and this can soothe the infant. It might be beneficial when you feed the baby or change activities, like going outside for a walk.
Babies’ eyes start to work together around the fifth month to form a three-dimensional worldview. Babies can see in-depth by this time. They also have good color vision by five months of age.