Reaching is a skill most children pick up during the sensorimotor stage.

How Can Parents Help in the Sensorimotor Stage?

by Eliza Martinez

The sensorimotor stage spans your child's first two years of life, according to Georgia State University. During this time, he'll make dramatic gains in cognitive development that are likely to leave you amazed. This stage involves reflexes, but moves to cause and effect, matching objects with their names and interactions with environment and other people. Fostering the skills acquired during this stage is something that you, as a mother, can enhance by simply playing with your child. It might not feel like learning, but those tricky toy manufacturers’ market toys that are fun and educational at the same time. So feel free to hit the store and go crazy!

Play Peek-A-Boo

You probably play peek-a-boo with your child because you can't get enough of his shrieks of delight when he "finds" you. Did you know that you are also helping your toddler master the skill of object permanence? Object permanence is the skill that enables your child to understand that an object is still there even if he can't see it, according to Pearson Higher Education. Go ahead, bask in the glow of your outstanding parenting! Throw a blanket over your head and it won't be long before your toddler pulls it off. Or hide his favorite toys and stand by as he seeks them out.

Play With Cause and Effect Toys

The sensorimotor stage is when your child begins to see that his actions have effects, though it doesn't occur immediately even though the sensorimotor stage ranges from birth to about two years of age. Look for cause and effect behaviors around four to eight months of age, advises Columbus City Schools. For example, if he hits the button on his toy and it lights up, he begins to realize that the same thing happens every time he pushes that button. You might hate those toys that play perky music, and which taunt you as you sleep, but those toys are ideal for developing cause and effect in the first two years. Scatter toys that do something around the house for plenty of opportunities for your child to see what happens when he plays with them. He'll have fun and you can sit back content that you are doing the best for your child's brain. Just make sure they are all turned off before you go to bed.


Does your child repeat everything you say? All day, every day? It might get annoying, but don't despair because this skill is important during the sensorimotor stage. It helps your toddler learn appropriate behaviors that serve him well when he gets older and becomes a (hopefully) functioning member of society. It also helps him form mental images to accompany his words and actions, according to Pearson Higher Education. So, stop saying bad words and burping at the table, unless you want your child to imitate these behaviors next time Grandma comes over. Instead, let him copy you while you repeatedly take a deep breath and count to 10.

Read Books

Young children love the magic they find in books. Since your toddler can't sit down and get through his favorites on his own, make time to snuggle up and read to him, suggests High Reach Learning. Yes, you'll probably have several tried and true choices memorized in a matter of days, but you'll also be fostering your toddlers language development during the sensorimotor stage. Choose short books that hold her attention. Rhyming books are fun for young children as well. Point to words and objects as you read to build your toddler's vocabulary.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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