Babies’ brains grow at a fantastic rate. According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, your baby's brain makes billions of new cells and hundreds of trillions of new connections in the first years of life. Sensory activities are your baby’s first true learning experiences. Early Childhood Today recommends using sensory activities to help your child develop to her highest potential.
Touching your baby is one of the first ways that you interact with him. Massage your baby’s arms and legs. As your he develops, let him experience different textures through touch. Give him toys with bumpy and smooth, or hard and soft textures. Let him explore textures on his own when appropriate. For example, as your baby starts to self-feed, let him crush banana in his hands or rub cracker crumbs across his feeding tray.
At birth, your baby can only see between 8 and 12 inches from her face. The Kids Health website encourages parents to spend time gazing at their baby, which will encourage the baby to look back. When you can’t stop everything to look at your baby, give her high-contrast images or pictures of the human face. As she develops, so will her need for visual stimulation. By 8 months of age, she will prefer pictures of familiar people. Try putting photos of the family in heavy plastic pages for her to handle. This not only encourages her visual development, but also her motor control.
At birth, your child has already been hearing your voice for several months. However, the sounds of the world have been muffled by flesh and amniotic fluid, so your baby will be startled by the change at birth. Newborns prefer the soft voices of Mom and Dad. As your baby hears, he is learning the basic building blocks of language. Speaking to him is one of the best sensory activities for hearing. As he approaches the end of his his first year, he is more able to discriminate sounds. Help develop his hearing by helping him put labels to things. Ask him questions like, “Where’s Mama?” Praise him when he looks at you. In the same way, ask him for specific toys. Begin by praising him when he looks at the toy, and as he grows and develops, praise him for pointing to or picking up the object.
As you wean your baby from breast milk or formula, she will begin to experience more diverse flavors. Help her to develop her palate by giving her a wide range of foods to taste. Don’t be discouraged if she appears to dislike a new flavor. Kids Health states that it can take up to 10 samples of a new food before she accepts it. Help develop her understanding of taste by labeling the new foods as she eats them. For example, say, “These are plums. Don’t they taste sweet?”
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images