One of the greatest joys of being a parent is watching your baby discover the world around them. Your baby's senses will help them in this new adventure.
You can be so much more than a spectator by supporting their learning as their very first tour guide and teacher. Here are some suggested sensory development activities to help your baby learn.
- Taste and Smell
Your Baby's Senses: Sight
Your baby can focus best on people and things that are close to them, such as your face as you feed them. You may notice them watching others who are nearby and tracking bright objects as they move. As they grow, their ability to focus on objects that are farther away will improve.
To help encourage your baby’s learning, you might try the following sensory development activities:
- Hold your baby, so your face is about eight inches away, and talk gently. When you have your baby’s attention, slowly move your head from side to side so he/she can follow you with their eyes. They might not be able to track your face when it passes to the other side of their nose until they are a bit older.
- Hold them in a sitting position while looking at them so your baby can make eye contact. Be sure the lights are not shining directly in their face, because bright lights can be irritating to babies.
- Show them simple black-and-white patterns during the first few weeks your baby is home. At this stage, babies can see shapes and bold colours more clearly than subtle patterns or pastels. Books and cut-outs with baby-friendly patterns are typically available at children’s bookshops and baby-supply stores.
- After a few weeks, show them bright, colourful toys or other objects. Move them slowly before their eyes so they can learn to follow them.
- Put your baby in front of a mirror and watch what happens. Babies are often interested in looking at their reflection.
Your Baby's Senses: Sound
Your baby is very aware of the sounds around them, and your voice is among their favourite things to hear.
To encourage your baby’s hearing development, you might take the following actions:
- Talk to your baby as much as possible in a soft, calm, cheerful voice. They may not understand what you say, but they will respond to hearing your voice.
- Vary the sound of your voice by changing your tone and your volume.
- Sing or hum to your baby.
- Introduce your baby to new sounds like musical toys or rattles.
Your Baby's Senses: Touch
Your baby's sense of touch starts with their mouth and spreads to their whole body. This may explain their growing eagerness to put anything and everything into their mouth. With just the power of a touch, you may be able to turn your fussy little one into a calm, content darling. Your slow, gentle touches help them feel secure and safe.
To encourage your baby’s sense of touch, you might try these sensory development activities:
- Hold your baby often. Don't worry about spoiling them during these early months—you won't. What you will do is make them feel secure.
- Watch for and respond to your baby’s signals. If they want to be cuddled, they will be relaxed and snuggly. If they seem upset, try holding them without moving, or lay them down. Some upset babies like it when you pick them up and move around slowly.
- Introduce your baby to lots of different textures: towels, diapers, stuffed animals, water and your skin.
Your Baby's Senses: Taste and Smell
All babies explore their world by putting things in their mouths. That’s because taste and smell help your baby learn about the physical world. New-born babies can already pick out a variety of flavours, like sweet and sour. And they're all born with a taste for breast milk or formula.
To better understand your baby's senses, keep these facts in mind:
- New-borns recognize the taste and smell of their own mother's milk.
- Right now, you don't have to go out of your way to stimulate these two senses. Your baby’s taste buds are keen at every feeding, and normal household aromas keep their sense of smell well stimulated.
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