Sensory Toys That Support Gross Motor Skills Development
Your baby will grow up so quickly and they will start developing core skills in their newborn stage. One set of skills that begin to develop quite quickly is gross motor skills. These skills refer to your little one's ability to use the large muscles in their body, such as their arms and legs, and they will use these skills daily as they get older.
Commonly, the large muscles and gross motor skills develop first and they will help with the development of smaller muscles and fine motor skills, so it’s key to support this core development in your baby’s first year. Simply playing with sensory toys and props can help your little one strengthen and control their large muscles, and sensory play can be so beneficial for developing gross motor skills.
Below we have looked into the different stages of gross motor development and which sensory toys can be used during the first 12 months of your baby’s life. All babies develop at different rates and you may find that your little one doesn’t follow this pattern exactly, but you can still support their development with sensory play.
0 - 3 months
In the first 3 months of their life, your little one will start holding their own head and looking side to side whilst you’re interacting with them, they may even be able to raise their head when lying on their tummy. They will likely also start stretching and kicking their legs and arms whenever they’re laying on their back.
To support the development of gross motor skills at this early stage, you should introduce some high-contrast sensory toys into playtime. These monochrome toys are designed for newborns as they’re easier for your little one to focus on and they will capture their attention. Black and white sensory toys can encourage them to raise their head and reach out for objects.
3 - 6 months
From 3 months to 6 months, your baby will change so much and they will start getting stronger. Often, this is the age where your little one will start rolling over and they may even pivot from side to side when they’re laying on their tummy. When you support your baby, they will be able to bear weight on their legs too.
There are lots of sensory toys that you can use at this age and they are particularly useful during tummy time. Something like a tummy time book or a water mat can keep your baby entertained and also encourage them to start moving around more.
6 - 9 months
In the next few months, your baby will probably be able to sit up when they’re propped with pillows or even unassisted. They will be able to push themselves up from lying on their tummy to the crawling position and start rocking back and forth. Depending on how advanced your baby is, they may even crawl at 9 months.
These are all big movements that you should be encouraging and using sensory toys can help your little one to meet their early years' milestones. Placing brightly coloured and intriguing sensory toys, like sensory balls and sensory bottles, just out of reach of your baby can encourage them to reach out or crawl to get them.
9 - 12 months
When they’re only a couple of months away from their 1st birthday, your little one will likely start pulling themselves up to stand. They may even start to walk whilst holding onto your fingers or furniture for support if they’re strong enough. You might find that they start bobbing to music whilst they’re standing up too.
It’s so exciting when your baby takes their first solo steps and you can spur them on when you’re playing with sensory toys. Musical toys are so much fun at this age too and banging a drum or shaking a maraca can be great for gross motor development.
Purchasing the best sensory toys for babies
If you’re wanting to support your little one’s development and you’re looking for somewhere to purchase sensory toys they can use in their first year, explore the My Little Goody Box website today. We stock a huge selection of sensory items that can be used to create sensory experiences for babies and toddlers, and in the description of our products, you will find a recommended play age.
You can purchase from us in confidence knowing we have handpicked all the items on our website and we would happily use them with our own children, so quality isn’t something you need to worry about. To find out more about sensory play and how beneficial it can be, explore the rest of our blog or sign up for our newsletter.