Safety in Sensory
Though sensory play has many benefits for children's development it's important to remember that there's a reason why toy companies started creating large plastic toys. With less small pieces children don't need to be monitored as much with them.
Sensory play should always be monitored by an adult. For choking hazard risks among other things. Items like dry beans are great for scooping and pouring skills, however they are a choking hazard. Water beads are a wonderful option for exploring textures, however dehydrated water beads should always be out of reach of children. If consumed they will expand and could cause an obstruction.
When monitored, sensory play makes a fun addition to playtime where children are able to work on their fine motor skills and problem solving skills.
Sensory for Babies
The safest way for babies a year and under to experience sensory play is through taste safe options.
Baby yogurt, pudding and water play are great options to get started. Placing items such as feathers or ribbon in a bottle are also a great sensory experience for babies to explore. Calm bottles with distilled water, clear glue and glitter are a great next step, so long as the lid is superglued shut and you're sure that your little one cannot open it.
Allow your little one to touch different textures of fabric. This can be done safely with a taggie blanket that has multiple textures. Or any fabric, curtains, towels, skeins of yarn or blankets you have around the house. Just be sure that they are not left unattended with large pieces of fabric or string.