What Is Sensory Play?

From the moment they’re born, babies are using their senses to learn about the world around them and their place in it. 

They use their senses right through childhood to explore the world around them. Touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. 

If you think back to a happy childhood memory, we bet you can smell or taste something about it. Our sense retains most of the information it receives and when you remember something it ignites the memory within that sense. 

Encouraging sensory play is incredibly important in a child’s development. It actually helps to build nerve connections within the brain’s pathways.

This helps a child’s ability to more complex tasks. It also helps cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem-solving skills.

What is sensory play?

Sensory play is any activity that involves stimulating your child senses- touch, smell, sight, hearing, balance and taste. Sensory play encourages children to use scientific processes while they play, explore and investigate. 

Baby lying on their tummy.
A great example of one way sensory play can be extremely beneficial is to think of a child who is fussy with food and texture.

A great example of one way sensory play can be extremely beneficial is to think of a child who is fussy with food and texture. Like pasta/spaghetti.

Using sensory play can help this little one's touch, smell and play with spaghetti, getting used to the texture and help them to ‘trust’ it. With no expectation or pressure to eat it.

If a child can build trust and understanding of its texture it helps to build positive pathways within the brain to say it is safe for them to engage with the spaghetti. This helps children to understand and believe what is safe in the brain.

Here are some more reasons why it is beneficial:

  • It helps to develop and enhance memory.
  • It is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child.
  • Sensory play helps with language development, fine motor skill, social interaction and cognitive growth. 
  • It helps children to learn sensory attributes such as hot, cold, wet, dry, sticky, etc.


Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

Read more by Laura
{{ post.excerpt }}
{{ post.content.formatted }}

What is Family Friendly HQ?

Family Friendly HQ is Ireland’s trusted parenting community, dedicated to mums and dads, and families of all shapes and sizes.

Read more about us