Guest Blog by Katie Lane.

From birth, babies explore the world around them using their five senses: touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. In recent years there is a decline in Sensory Play as the TV, computer games and battery operated toys are becoming more popular.

Sensory play has long been a favourite in our house since my daughter Daisy was 4 months old. She’s now 4 years old and we’ve enjoyed lots of creative, messy and sensory play which has really helped her early development. Sensory play is all about exploring through senses and experimenting in new experiences. It’s fun play with lots of learning too! I’ve put together a list of the benefits of sensory play and how it will help your child to develop:

1. Independent play

Sensory play can be enjoyed together, where you lead your child into an activity, give input into what they can do and ask them questions… however, sometimes it’s more beneficial to take a step back and let them explore their activity without you. You may be surprised at how they play with something and maybe it’s not how you intended the activity to be played with, but this is key to helping children develop their own personality and preferences.

2. Wide age range

Sensory play isn’t just for babies and toddlers. Any child can enjoy sensory exploration. As sensory activities are naturally open-ended they can be enjoyed with older siblings as well as younger ones, as the play ‘outcome’ can vary so greatly. A lovely way to bond and share experiences together.

3. Developing imagination

Following on from point one, sensory play leads to lots of imaginative play. Creating stories from sensory toys with different smells, sounds and textures can make play come to life!

4. Building fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are important later on in life when children learn to write, tie their laces, do up buttons and zip up their coats. All these skills can be practiced and developed with various sensory play activities.

5. Enhancing memory

As adults whenever we smell a certain scent we are reminded of a certain time or place, as with a piece of music… it is the same with babies and toddlers. Repetitive sensory play helps children to develop their memory skills and in turn their appreciation for cause and effect.



6. Learning new vocabulary

Exploring your different senses through play leads really well into developing new vocabulary. Parents naturally talk to their children about what they can smell, see, taste, feel and hear and this will lead to children eventually describing what they are doing themselves. It is also fantastic for learning colours, shapes, animals…everything! You can tailor make the topic of your sensory play so you are in control of your child’s learning.

7. Problem solving/Reasoning skills

Learning how to solve problems and the value of cause and effect are very important skills to learn from a young age. It gives great satisfaction to solve a problem independently and using logic and reason to gain conclusions.

8. Learning from real life experiences

Toys that help our children explore through their senses help them to understand and learn from real life experiences. For example, playing with different musical instruments can help develop an ear for pitch, pace, rhythm and learning songs.

9. Sharing and turn taking

Sharing is such an important (and sometimes tricky!) skill to learn when you’re a baby or toddler. Sensory play is so open-ended that it lends itself really well to sharing an activity and taking turns.

10. Calming effect

If your child needs to calm down when anxious or frustrated, sensory play is an ideal calming solution. Playing with something with a familiar smell or texture can calm a child and make them feel safe and secure.

What other benefits of sensory play can you think of? Do any of these apply to your child?

Katie is a former primary school teacher with two young daughters, Daisy aged 4 years and Indie aged 2 years. She runs a sensory and messy play company called ‘Sensory Sensations’ in the United Kingdom. Katie’s journey in Sensory Play first started with Daisy when she was 4 months old. She much preferred a tray of coloured spaghetti to her regular toys! Around June 2014 whilst making up different sensory bins, Katie, wondered whether others would like to buy ready made treasure baskets or sensory bins. This thought led to the creation of a Facebook group ‘Sensory Sensations‘ and orders from local mums, nurseries and childminders. Fast forward to February 2015, Katie, decided to branch out into Sensory Sensations classes offering sensory & messy play activities. Since then we’ve grown enormously and now offer sensory and messy play parties and events to reach as many children as we can in the local area.

You can find Katie hanging out with her Facebook Community here:



Thank you Katie for sharing your story and expertise with our community.