Sensory play. A phrase that you hear a lot when your bundle of joy comes earthside and you start on the baby class circuit. But what does it involve? Essential, baby sensory involves stimulating their five senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. If you're the crafty sort, you can use fun guides like this one from MadeForMums.com to make amazing props like coloured spaghetti, hide-and-seek trays or a sensory scarf station.
But if you're not that way inclined, here are 12 of our tried-and-tested Best Sensory Toys For Babies. You can also check out our Baby Sensory toys collection for the full range.
'Playing with babies can be HARD. There are so many limitations to what they can do, and their attention span is almost zilch. But the good news is that even the youngest of babies love sensory play.' TamingLittleMonsters.com
Full disclosure: these 12 bestsellers will appeal to your baby's sense of sight, hearing and touch more than their smell or taste. But you can always spritz your perfume on their favourite comforter for an olfactory buzz and their sense of taste will become super stimulated when weaning starts, at around 6 months.
1. KIDLY Label: Sensory Nesting Balls
Our award-wining Sensory Nesting Balls just love to be squished, chewed, rolled, waved and thrown about.
2. Hape: Butterfly Rainmaker Robert
His cheery little wooden face, his rainmaker body, the fact that his crinkly wings detach to go in the washing machine. We love all these, but that fact that he's called Robert tickles us the most!
3. Little Dutch: Cuddle Cloth Little Goose
This supersoft goose has has velvety webbed feet, knotted corners, extra interesting tags and even a clever loop to attach a dummy to.
4. Plan Toys Sensory Blocks
Each block has its own unique feature: watch them gaze into the mirror, make sense of the fractured prism or touch the textured corduroy.
5. taf toys: Where Is Joey Sensory Book
Crinkle sounds, peek-a-boo flaps and different textures stimulate their senses and develop their fine motor skills.
6. Petit Collage: Animal Friends Wooden Percussion Instruments
This super-cute 3-piece set includes a monkey tambourine, a bunny guiro and a bear shaker.
7. Jo & Nic's Crinkly Cloth Books Crinkly newspaper
Made to look and feel like mini newspapers, they rustle very satisfyingly as babies turn the big pages that are covered with brilliant popping illustrations.
Essential, baby sensory involves stimulating their five senses - sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.
8. Little Dutch: Play Pen Mat
With a mirror, a rattle, crinkly things and hidden toys, it's perfect for tummy time, to use in the playpen or for travel.
9. Jellycat: Bashful Bunny Grabber
In super soft fabric this bunny shaped toy is a great size for little hands to grab and its long ears perfect to soothe...and maybe have a nibble on too.
10. Done By Deer: Activity Floor Mirror Wally
The sturdy base means it stands up, so they can see the mix of inviting bright labels, mirrored and fluffy textures.
11. Wee Gallery: Art Cards
Including a range of animals printed on sturdy board, they're great for stimulating their visual sense and keeping their attention.
12. taf toys: Koala Musical Cosy Gym
A rattling Kimmy Koala with fluffy ears and a teether, a butterfly ring rattle, a rainbow, colourful and high-contrast sides and a tactile leaf with a baby-safe mirror. There's a lot going on here - plus music too!
This is only for starters. There's a whole Baby Sensory toys collection you can browse - but we hope this has given you a bit of inspiration. If you need any advice on toys for any stage, or any help at all, our Live Chat Team is always here to help, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (but not bank holidays) and they'll do all we can to set you on the right track. Just hit that purple button, bottom right.
My Bored Toddler: 12 Easy Sensory Play Ideas for Babies 6 months +
Taming Little Monsters: 60 Amazing Sensory Activities for Babies