Today, I want to share my journey as a new dad and explain why sensory play with my baby boy, Zack, has become an absolute delight for both of us. Our exploration of sensory play has not only brought us immeasurable joy but has also fostered a stronger bond between us. Join me as I delve into the wonders of sensory play, the amazing toys we've discovered, and the profound benefits it holds for Zack's development...
Zack was born right after lockdown began and unfortunately I was unable to be at his birth due to the restrictions at the hospital at the time. I was incredibly nervous about how this may impact multiple things but particularly our bond. As I did some research to allay my fears, I found that a study published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology discovered that parents who actively engaged in sensory play with their babies reported a 35% increase in parental responsiveness and sensitivity. These factors are crucial for establishing secure attachment and bonding with little ones. So it felt right that given our love of sensory play with our eldest, and given Lauren's interest in sensory play, that it was something I needed to jump on board with even more this time!
From the very moment Zack entered our lives, I knew that creating memorable experiences for him was a top priority. We were stuck at home together but I didn't want the time we all had together to be spent being stressed. Zack was an incredibly tricky baby thanks to reflux and constipation, and sensory play quickly emerged as our go-to method for calming him. It helped develop his senses and introduce him to the wonders of the world around him, even if it was only our 4 walls to begin with! Witnessing his eyes light up with curiosity as he explores different textures, sounds, and colors has been truly magical.
One of Zack's absolute favourite sensory toys was his wrist rattles, and it continues to be even now he's 3. These noisy little rattles adorn his tiny wrists, creating an orchestra of delightful sounds with his every movement. The pure joy and fascination that illuminated his face as he discovered that he could make music simply by wiggling his hands are moments I'll forever cherish, we took so many photos and videos!
Another sensory treasure that Zack and I loved playing with was coloured chiffon scarves. As I gently waved them through the air, Zack's eyes intently followed the graceful movements, capturing the vibrant colors and textures in his ever-curious gaze. He would reach out to touch the soft fabric, cultivating his sense of touch and nurturing his blossoming imagination. An imagination that now, at the age of 3, is incredibly active!
The ribbon rings quickly become a favourite playtime accessory for Zack and me too. With every spin and twirl, the colorful ribbons create an enchanting dance of movement that captivated his attention. His delighted giggles filled the room as he eagerly tried to grasp and touch the ribbons, fostering his hand-eye coordination and developing his fine motor skills. We started using the ribbon rings within the first week or two to calm Zack in-between night feeds and we found they were absolutely perfect.
Engaging in sensory play offers a multitude of benefits for Zack's overall development. Research shows that sensory play stimulates various areas of a baby's brain, supporting cognitive growth and fostering neural connections. As Zack continues to explore different textures, sounds, and colours, his senses are heightened, promoting sensory integration and enhancing his cognitive abilities.
Beyond its developmental benefits, sensory play has played a pivotal role in strengthening the bond between Zack and me. Our shared moments over the years of play create a deep connection that words alone cannot express. Through sensory play, we communicate, interact, and understand each other on a profound level, fostering a bond that grows stronger with each passing day.
In my journey as a father, sensory play has become an invaluable source of joy, growth, and profound connection with Zack. Through the wonders of wrist rattles, colored chiffon scarves, and ribbon rings, I've witnessed Zack flourish and discover the world around him in the most captivating ways. The research tells us that sensory play is not only a delight for babies but also essential for their brain development and the formation of strong bonds with their caregivers. So, fellow parents and caregivers... embrace the magic of sensory play and embark on a remarkable journey of exploration, growth, and heartfelt connection with your little ones.