Infants and toddlers are constantly developing their senses. Sensory activities foster healthy development of a child's senses. In addition to the five basic senses -- sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste -- there are two other sensory-related skills that infants and toddlers develop in the early years: the awareness of their own body, hands, and feet, and the ability to maintain balance.
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There are a variety of toys that can aid your infant in developing early sensory skills. Hanging a mobile above your baby's crib or play area can give her something to focus on, and the different shapes and contrasts will stimulate her sense of sight. Soft toys with different textures or fabrics help develop infants' sense of touch as they learn to hold and grasp items. Toys such as wind chimes or baby music boxes that play soft music or make soft noises help your child discover her senses as well. Placing your infant on her stomach for tummy time helps younger infants develop muscle coordination that will help with body coordination and balance as they get older.
Toddler Basic Senses
Toddlers can benefit from many of the same toys and activities that aid infant sensory development. Let your toddler mould non-toxic play dough into different shapes to develop her sight and touch. Add a scent to your dough to help your toddler develop her sense of smell as well. Bury shells or some other items in a sandbox and then take an older toddler treasure hunting. Encourage the toddler to dig through the sand with her hands to find the buried items to help develop her sense of touch.
Toddler Body Awareness and Balancing
Body awareness and balancing are other senses toddlers need to develop. Toddlers are at an age where they can lift themselves up, grasp for nearby items and practice balancing. Play games such as Follow the Leader with your toddler to help her develop body awareness. Encourage your toddler to skipping rope, skip and run around to develop her sense of balance. Create an obstacle course using household items for your toddler to complete. The course can consist of a chair to crawl under and pillows for her to hop over.
Each infant or toddler has different interests and abilities. If you find your child is not interested in an activity, try a different activity focusing on the same sense. Your child may like one type of music better than another and may respond differently to different sound makers. Also, each infant or toddler develops at different times. If you find that one activity is too advanced, wait a few weeks and try again. Modify an activity that is too advanced or save it for a later stage in the child's development.
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