Sensory Development

What is it? What are the key milestones to monitor? How do you help your child?

From birth to early childhood, children use their five senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them.It’s an important part of early childhood development, and providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is crucial to brain development.

Learning through sensory exploration comes naturally to babies and young children, which makes sense when you consider that the skills they’ll come to rely on to build an understanding of objects, spaces, people and interactions are yet to be fully developed.

As adults, our senses provide us with vital information that we use to inform decision making thousands of times a day. We may take this ability for granted and barely notice it, but it’s for this reason that helping children to learn about their own senses is so important.

Key Milestones:

0-3 Months

  • While lying on back, attempts to reach for a toy held above their chest
  • While lying on back, visually tracks a moving toy from side to side
  • While lying on back, keeps head centered to watch faces or toys
  • Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds
  • Enjoys a variety of movements

4-6 Months

  • Uses both hands to explore toys
  • Generally happy when not hungry or tired
  • Brings hands and objects to mouth
  • Able to calm with rocking, touching, and gentle sounds
  • Is not upset by everyday sounds
  • Enjoys a variety of movements

7-9 Months

  • Enjoys a variety of movements – bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth
  • Explores and examines an object using both hands and mouth
  • Turns several pages of a chunky (board) book at once
  • Experiments with the amount of force needed to pick up different objects
  • Focuses on objects near and far
  • Investigates shapes, sizes, and textures of toys and surroundings
  • Observes environment from a variety of positions – while lying on back or tummy, sitting, crawling, and standing with assistance

10-12 Months

  • Enjoys listening to songs
  • Explores toys with hands, fingers, and mouth
  • Crawls to or away from objects baby sees in the distance

13-18 Months

  • Helps with getting dressed/undressed
  • Has a regular sleep schedule
  • Eats an increasing variety of foods