It always amazed me - after the first couple of sleepy weeks - just how lively a new baby is. All that grasping, kicking and wriggling. You've probably read a load of articles about the importance of keeping your new arrival stimulated and there are plenty of classes offering to engage their senses and boost their developing brains. Happily, there are loads of sensory products you can use at home - especially useful when going out to classes is impossible. With playtime mostly happening in the living room, we really appreciate designs that don’t also give us a headache every time we glance at them. Here’s our pick of sensory toys you won’t be pushing under the sofa when friends (eventually) come over.
FOR THE SENSE OF SIGHT
It's been proven that babies respond best to black and white, which is why we stock a variety of high contrast modern muslins, blankets and soft books. Setting up a high-contrast play den doesn’t need to be costly. A captivating, multi-functional muzzy like this one from Done by Deer can be draped over a cosy baby nest for an instant sensory space.
FOR THE SENSE OF TOUCH
Tactile learning is important for little hands as they get to grips with the world around them. At around three months, they'll start to grab for objects, so this is an ideal time to introduce touchy-feely rattles and squeakers. The Sensory Clutch Ball by Wee Gallery is one of our best sellers and is great for this stage. With a black and white design, contemporary patterns and a soft sculpted form, it’s perfect for some tactile play time. Once they've mastered grasping, the word of toys really begins to open up. This Sensory Bumble Bee Rattle by Meri Meri has the sweetest crochet wings, stitched features and a wooden grip ring, plus it makes a gentle noise that will stimulate but won't startle them.
FOR THE SENSE OF HEARING
Babies hear a variety of sounds, even before they're born. From the loud thumping of their mother's heartbeat, to the muffled chatter of voices, the womb isn't a particularly quiet place to spend nine months! So it makes sense that they need continuous auditory stimulation as they get used to the 'outside' world. Crinkle paper products are great cause-and-effect sound makers that can be introduced from day dot. You can hang this stylish design by Wee Gallery from the side of the Moses basket ready for them to scrunch. The soft crinkling sound keeps them entertained but isn't loud enough to annoy anyone else.
DEVELOPING FINE MOTOR SKILLS
In the first year, fine motor skills come into play - reaching, grasping, poking and putting objects in their mouths. (Oh, yes!) This Wee Gallery Activity Pad is ideal for tummy time, with cool lift flap animals to teach them about cause and effect. Babies learn a lot about objects from mouthing them, but your old slippers are probably (read, definitely) not very kind on the palate. Thankfully, there are great products specially designed for all of this in-the-mouth action. Oli & Carol hand make early play toys from Hevea tree rubber. We love how they can be used in different ways from teethers to bath toys or for sensory play.
We love active fun at KIDLY, so we're big fans of stylish play mats. This taf toys I Love Big Mat features colourful patchwork and drawings, which have been designed to stimulate parent-baby interaction. As they begin crawling and move from panel to panel, they’ll discover the plastic ring, pineapple teether, baby-safe mirror and the crinkling parts. Etta Loves design hip-looking products and this double-sided play mat is just what they need for being on the move - whether it’s jerky head and neck lifts or some epic 360 turns. The monochrome dalmatian side has been designed to enhance visual skills for 0-4 months, while the leopard print side helps develop cognitive skills for 5+ months. In soft organic cotton and padded for comfort, we love that it rolls up, so you can take sensory play time on the road with you as well.
Need more inspo for your baby sensory at home? Shop our complete range of toys that fit the bill here. And remember, if you need any more guidance, our Live Chat Team are always here to help, 7am-11pm, every day. Just hit that purple button, bottom right.