Baby Sensory Skills at Different Ages

baby sensory skills

Baby sensory skills usually start developing from when they are born.

These refer to the five senses humans use, touch, hearing, smell, vision and taste.

The five senses allow humans to explore their world and make sense of it.

Babies learn about new sensations and how should be things felt.

Thus, tasting, holding, moving, hearing, seeing and smelling things around can help them identify with their world.

This article discusses how your child can develop baby sensory skills and why they are important for their growth.

Keep reading below to know more!

baby sensory skills in infants

Development of Baby Sensory Skills

Sensory Processing refers to when your child starts to register the sensory input present in their environment.

After registering, the brain receives, organizes and responds to the input to behave accordingly.

Your baby starts to develop these from when they are born and act accordingly to their age.

So a child of a few months will start developing their senses.

The stages for the baby’s sensory milestones are as follows:

At 0 to 6 months 

  • Can look at their own hands
  • Track objects through their eyes
  • Can respond to sounds and voices around them
  • Identifies the scent of breast milk during breastfeeding
  • Responds by crying in order to tell about hunger, discomfort or fear
  • Is able to coordinate suck, swallow and breathe sequence
  • Can make rhythmic movements of the tongue and the jaw moves up and down
  • The hearing sense is mature
  • Can reach out to objects placed nearby
  • Can sleep in between 4 to 10 hours intervals

If your child does not achieve any of these milestones then that can impede their growth.

The baby will cry a lot.

They will have difficulty breastfeeding and also sleeping.

Next are the development stages for a 6 to 12 months old baby.

6 to 12 months of age 

Your child gets a little older and reaches many developmental milestones.

They start tummy time and begin to crawl.

Parents may also put their child in a baby walker at this stage but it is best to let the child learn it on their own.

At this stage, they will:

  • Imitate gestures of parents and people around them
  • Open their mouth to eat
  • Play with a toy for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Can eat foods of different textures and move their tongue around to eat it
  • Drink water or milk from a cup

development in toddlers child playing with sand

Baby Sensory Development After a Year

During 1 to 2 years 

  • Children begin to solve their own problems through trial and error
  • Copies the sounds you make
  • Can show a reaction to extreme changes in temperature, dangers of stairs, and hot objects
  • Looks out for an object that falls out of sight
  • At 18 months they can differentiate between edible and inedible items
  • Can follow instructions
  • Is bothered by a soiled diaper

If your child cannot achieve any of these milestones, then they will have difficulty socializing.

Sensory skills and socializing skills are developing side by side.

They will not be able to eat foods with different textures.

The child’s play skills will also be delayed when they show no interest in toys and activities.

Similarly, their understanding level will be poor so they won’t imitate and learn from others.

girl playing with paint

2 to 3 years old child 

  • Children begin to play on their own
  • Show less dependant behavior with the caregiver
  • Can read books on their own and pay attention for long periods
  • Explore their surroundings
  • Can match circles and squares
  • Can wear a different variety of clothing
  • Is able to eat foods of various textures
  • Is able to take turns while participating in interactive games
  • Can use the toilet with help

If your child is unable to do any of these then they will have trouble following instructions at home and at daycare.

They will also have difficulty while toilet training, eating different textures and socializing.

They may hesitate while playing around and paying attention to copy behavior.

At this point, even if other skills develop they can have trouble transitioning between different activities.

For instance, going for indoor and outdoor activities.

They can also show difficulty while playing with friends.

If these do not develop any time soon, you can consult your doctor about them.

older children playing with dough

For Older Children

Ages 4 to 6 years old 

  • Your child begins to count after hearing and listening
  • They are aware of colors
  • Can feed themselves easily
  • Can identify shapes
  • Slowly begin to write numbers, alphabets and small sentences
  • Can follow rules
  • Can sit and play by themselves
  • Socially interact with children through play
  • Can express their emotions
  • Can differentiate between left and right
  • Sit at a desk, follow the instructions of their teacher, and understand simple concepts

If your child cannot develop these milestones then they will have difficulty adjusting in school.

Poor concentration, attention and lack of social skills can deprive them of a good experience.

They will not be able to sit still.

Plus, it is harder for them to express their thoughts, ideas, needs and wants.

Moreover, it is hard for them to retell events and follow routines.

At this stage, if they cannot eat different textures, they will become a picky eater.

They will be unable to express their thoughts verbally and also in written form.

Ages 6 to 12 years 

Your child will be able to:

  • Can sit still
  • Handle group conversations and situations
  • Do not react aggressively to being touched
  • Can accomplish new tasks
  • Become organized in play and studies
  • Enhanced motor skills
  • Can function in a noisy atmosphere
  • Can enjoy playground activities without the fear of feet losing the ground when on a swing
  • Their attention span increases
  • Respect other’s perspectives
  • Their intelligence and knowledge grows
  • After they are 9 years old they start to see themselves as individuals
  • As they become older they dedicate time to peer relationships

The implications of not reaching these milestones remain the same.

Once your child develops their sensory skills, they also begin to use their knowledge and social skills.

If your child is lagging, start sensory play.

child enjoying baby sensory play

Baby Sensory Play and Other Activities

When your child is falling behind in achieving milestones, develop their sensory skills by:

Exposing Them to Different Senses 

You have to be a little intentional.

While most milestones may come to your child naturally, you can also help them achieve these.

Hence, you need to give your baby the opportunity to explore.

Take them to the grocery store and let them observe, smell and touch different vegetables and food.

They can also help you in preparing the meal in the kitchen so that they are curious about the taste and texture.

Next, you can go out in the park for a walk and hide stickers, rocks, leaves and flowers for them to recognize different textures and shapes.

This way they can identify different smells, see nature and touch different textures.

Moreover, you will be surprised to know that a popular child’s game can improve sensory skills.

These can allow your child to put their head and body in different postures improving their ability to move.

Talking with Your Child 

Put the sensation their kids are feeling in words.

Their world is full of sensory activities they just need to recognize it.

So you can pit that into words so that your child copies it.

Tell them how hot the water in their shower is.

Explain the crunchiness of the cucumber they are eating.

Or tell them how comfy and fuzzy their cushion is.

Once, you will put it into words, your child will start identifying it too.

Sensory Play 

These activities encourage children to play, create and explore on their own.

Besides the five senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, it also focuses on balance and perception.

The activities can include touching slime, using a sensory bin, playing with food and a sandbox.

baby sensory skills and activities

Advantages of Sensory Play and Skills

Children learn to make sense of the world around them using their senses.

Perception helps them to be aware of their body in space.

Balance allows them to know their body position with respect to gravity.

The five senses further help them to develop their fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

Moreover, it results in cognitive growth.

It helps develop their language skills and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, it improves their social skills.

Therefore, as your child’s sensory skills improve, their social skills get better too.

They start interacting with their peers more confidently.

What’s more, sensory play itself can help your child grow.

It can help them learn textures, tastes and other sensory attributes.

They will soon be able to differentiate between hot, dry, sticky and cold.

Sensory play improves their memory and helps in developing them.

Moreover, it improves your child’s ability to complete rather complex tasks.

It can build nerve connections that allow them to achieve complex tasks.

Furthermore, it can help to calm down an anxious child and works the same way for a frustrated one.


Baby sensory skills can come to them naturally or you need to expose them to some objects in their environment.

Refer to these timely milestones to see if your child is lagging somewhere.

If they are, it is time to intervene and introduce some sensory play.





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