our everyday life

Sensory Development in Toddlers

by Carly Seifert

Your little one's sensory systems were all in place at birth, but during the toddler years, his sensory awareness and understanding become more complex and advanced. Enjoy the chance to take in new experiences through his excited eyes and provide an enriching environment for him that stiumulates his senses and encourages his growth.

Touch

During the toddler years, your little one develops an awareness of different textures and how they feel on his skin. Your tactile toddler may enjoy playing with modeling clay or finger painting as he explores the gooey and soft textures with his fingers. When your toddler sees a new object, he won't just want to look at it, but will want to touch it and rub his fingers along it. Comment on the texture of objects -- smooth, bumpy, slippery -- to develop his awareness and expand his vocabulary.

Sight

Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University, says that toddlers who are able to handle three-dimensional objects with coordination are able to begin deciphering two-dimensional images. She suggests reading colorful storybooks to your toddler to hold his interest and stimulate visual development, discussing the images with him and pointing out the colors on each page. Take your toddler for a walk outside and notice the objects and colors that you see. Display colorful art work in his room -- being careful not to go overboard by visually overstimulating him.

Auditory

The National Institutes of Health states that a child's early auditory development is dependent on the environment they are in. By providing your toddler with an acoustically rich surroundings, you are stimulating his sense of hearing -- which will, in turn, affect his language development. Provide this type of environment for your little one by listening to music from a variety of styles -- even in other languages -- and singing and chanting with him.

Taste and Smell

Your baby who may have eaten anything and everything is suddenly a picky toddler, who squishes up his nose at the sight of green beans. The website Kids Health warns that toddler's newfound language skills may result in them being more particular about what they eat -- and don't eat. Your toddler might refuse to try a food because he doesn't like the way it smells -- but don't give up. It can take many tries for a toddler to accept a new food. Try adding vanilla or cinnamon to certain foods to give them a pleasing aroma, perhaps making them more enticing to your little one.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images