Parent’s Guide: Maximising Toys for Sensory Motor Development

*Remunerated Post*

Intentionally weaving toys which promote motor skills into regular activities is one of the best ways to help accelerate development in young children. By matching the right toys for sensory motor development to their abilities at each age, parents will find that it makes the physical milestones easier, supporting later mobility along with cognitive gains. Because the toys are tied into general daily living and activities, families will find that they will build these all-important foundations together.

Toys for sensory motor development
Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

The Benefits of Maximising Toys for Sensory Motor Development

Interactive toys which promote specific physical, sensory and mental abilities create great opportunities for growing minds and bodies. As babies hit critical developmental stages, parents can leverage toys for sensory motor development organically which then means that it supports them in movement, cognition and emotional intelligence.

The right toys at the right time:

● Builds muscle strength, balance, and coordination essential for major physical milestones like sitting, crawling, cruising and walking. Mastering control of the body boosts self-confidence.

● Develops sensory processing skills through sights, textures, sounds and proprioception. Interpreting this tactile data fuels planning later sequenced body movements and spatial navigation abilities.

● Improves visual tracking, hand grasp precision, cause and effect conception and memory retention of learned patterns. Learning through motor skill play sharpens mental capacities.

● Boosts confidence, independence and perseverance qualities as children consciously master new abilities. Determination emerges from motivating play.

Matching Age Appropriate Toys

Children progress through a continuum of fine and gross motor skill levels, as well as oral/facial strength, so match the toys for sensory motor development accordingly. By doing this you will gradually challenge their existing progression.

Fine Motor Toys

Finger and wrist control expands how toddlers intentionally grip toys, turn pages or manipulate puzzles with increasing precision. Classic motoric skills toys in this domain involve interlocking construction bricks, big-knob puzzles, lacing cards and oversized crayons supporting foundational dexterity.

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Gross Motor Toys

For bigger body parts, toddlers learn balance and core strength managing their center of gravity to stand, propel riding toys, kick balls or tackle climbing frames and playground equipment. Push-pull wagon toys build coordination. As pre-schoolers walk independently, playground balls then bicycles with training wheels teach steering, speed and stopping.

Oral Motor Toys

Mouthing toys strengthen tongues, lips and cheeks controlling food. Whistles, horns and teethers improve control to support speech clarity and controlled bite force.

Integrating Toys into Daily Tasks

Toddlerhood’s self-care activities like eating, dressing and play present natural but underutilised chances to subtly build physical abilities through fun motoric toys used as assists. Bringing these items into daily routines will mean that they will naturally develop these skills without realising and making it a chore!

Getting Dressed

Encourage developing hand strength and coordination by having children grip dressing aids for pulling on socks, holding shoe horns or buttoning assistance tools. Reinforce trying zippers or toggles through praise building confidence.

Playtime

Child-directed free play already builds physical competencies, so ensure your toy box hold items which support gross and fine motor progression. You could also incorporate games which require specific movement such as tossing bean bags into buckets, weaving through cones or balancing along tape lines.

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

Mealtimes

Suction-gripped plates, divider sections and spoon grippers with wrist straps reduce mess while promoting independence. Teething biscuits help with bite coordination. Try not to get upset with the mess (!) and praise any feeding attempts.

Adaptations for Special Needs

For children with developmental delays or atypical neurological wiring, thoughtfully tailor toy selections, play tasks and parental support to nurture emerging capabilities. Adaptations promote abilities without forcing rigid normalisation.

Cerebral Palsy

Choose larger, lightweight pieces that are easier to grasp like chunky plush blocks or oversized bead mazes. Scoop grips and wrist braces aid holding toys. Velcro and stabilising equipment assist gross motor play.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Remove extra stimuli with simple, quiet toys in calming colors. Introduce different textures slowly, like light-up wands or vibrating handlers, to encourage touching.

Downs Syndrome

Adjust challenge levels through larger, weighted pieces to strengthen low muscle tone or more complex puzzles and games improving cognition. Utilise mini-routines with favourite motoric toys.

Developmental Milestones by Age

When different motor skills typically emerge, introduce suitable toy selections and play at each age. Understanding natural progressions allows for properly calibrating challenges to avoid boredom or anxiety. Toys nurture optimal capability cultivation when aligned with growing brains and bodies.

0-6 Months

Flailing arm and leg motions strengthen. Crib gyms with dangling toys bat at build shoulder, elbow control and visual tracking. Rattles grasped cultivated early cause-and-effect concepts.

6-12 Months

Sitting upright, rocking on hands and knees emerges. Nesting cups teach lifting and rotating wrist motions. Push-pull walkers support cruising strength.

1-2 Years

Climbing things and running unsteadily as walking improves. Foam popper toys and play tunnels foster coordination. Jumbo knob puzzles and shape sorters hone hand precision.

3-5 Years

Greater stamina for bike riding with training wheels. T-ball sets encourage throwing. Weaving crafted lacing cards improves fine fingertip manipulation crucial for later writing.

Conclusion

Integrating motoric skill toys into regular play prompts more quality practice opportunities compared to isolated therapeutic sessions alone. Assist development through:

● Brief, frequent game-like toy activities are woven seamlessly into normal days for higher interest and lower frustration.

● Multi-sensory toys blending sights, textures, sounds and manipulations organically driving engagement.

● Support child-led free play by following, not directing. Allow children’s innate curiosity to guide their play at their own optimal pace.

The right toys at the right time build physical, emotional and mental fortitude!

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