Hello! I’m Dee, the founder of The Little Sensory Box. This is me with the hubby, our son and our fur babies!
What you can't see in this picture is that when it was taken I was a sleep-deprived, overwhelmed new mum who had no idea how to play with my baby.
It’s something they don’t really teach in antenatal classes, isn’t it?
I’d had very little experience with babies before having one of my own, so when my son, Alfie, was born, I honestly had no idea if he even needed toys, or if I was supposed to be playing with him at all (I mean, I thought he looked pretty underwhelmed with my attempts at waving a rattle in front of him!).
When Alfie was 11 weeks old, I took him to our local Baby Sensory class. He was instantly mesmerised, and I absolutely loved watching him take it all in. It felt like a special bit of time each week that strengthened our bond, and it began to teach me how to play with him in a way that supported his development. But unfortunately, I was also struggling with postnatal anxiety and depression, which meant there were days when I just didn’t feel up to leaving the house and going to a baby class.
Feeling inspired to recreate sensory-play experiences for us at home, I started researching online, looking for guidance on activities and some age-appropriate sensory toys and resources I could buy. But the sheer volume of information out there quickly became overwhelming. A lot of it was clearly aimed at early-years professionals and written in what I call ‘science speak’. What’s more, none of the toys I found were affordable for a new mum on maternity pay!
The final straw came for me after Alfie’s first Christmas, when I suddenly couldn’t move for loud and flashy toys that, I soon realised, only kept him entertained for about a minute. Deep down, I knew these toys weren’t stimulating his mind or nurturing his development, and I had this niggling feeling that I should be able to create valuable playtime for him without drowning in battery-operated toys, spending a fortune or obtaining a qualification in teaching!
I also knew that if I was feeling this frustrated, there must be other new parents out there feeling the same way. I could see the need for a service that demystifies sensory play and makes sensory toys and resources affordable and accessible. And so, the idea for The Little Sensory Box began to take shape!
For the next year or so, I made it my mission to educate myself about sensory play by wading through all the information out there and – of course – spending lots of time playing with Alfie!
And the most important thing I learned?
When it comes to sensory play with babies, less is most definitely more!
Playing with your baby in a way that benefits their developing brain really can be simple, straightforward and fun – for you both!
The term ‘sensory play’ applies to any activity that stimulates one or more of your baby’s senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It can be something as easy as tickling your baby’s toes with a colourful scarf or shaking a sound bottle for them (if only I could go back in time and tell 2018 me that she was doing a great job with Alfie’s rattle!).
I launched the business in 2019 with a range of sensory boxes for babies and toddlers. Soon after, I began selling our Baby’s First Year subscription boxes, which are designed to take the guesswork out of sensory play by delivering all the toys and activities you need for your baby’s first twelve months straight to your door, exactly when you need them.
Basically, this is the subscription I wish had been around when I was a new mum!
I’m incredibly proud that our sensory-play subscription boxes WON gold in the 2020/21 Junior Design Awards for best subscription box, and that we were featured in The Independent as one of the 12 best baby and parenting subscription boxes. But nothing makes me happier than hearing from parents who say it has been a total game changer for them, because that’s exactly what I set out to do!
As well as our subscription boxes, we also offer a carefully curated selection of sensory toys for children from birth to three years, all sourced from some of the best early-years brands in the business. We only choose open-ended pieces that complement one another and are built to last – in terms of both quality and play potential. I am also very proud to say the The Little Sensory Box also WON the Best Retailer Small Business Award in The Peterborough Small Business Awards 2020/21.
If you’re a new parent feeling lost when it comes to playing with your baby, I hope my story reassures you. And I really hope that you find The Little Sensory Box an informative and supportive place to shop. Our mission will always be to help new parents dial down the overwhelm, understand what toys babies really need (clue: it’s far fewer than you think!) and access high-quality, affordable resources that will give you and your little one many hours of fun, sensory-rich play.
Dee & Alfie x