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The last 9 months baby spent every day comforted by a warm womb, muted sounds, and soft tissues protecting all parts of a fragile tiny body. When a baby enters into the world it can be quite frightening. The outside world is loud, it’s cold, it’s hot, and it’s nothing the baby was used to. However, as an occupational therapist we know how important introducing your baby to sensory experiences is!
As a mom you may feel like your baby needs to be sheltered from the world for the first few months. Although, I’d agree protecting little ones from sickness is the best idea, don’t forget to allow them to learn through sensory exploration. Babies benefit tremendously from all the senses (taste, touch, hearing, and sight) that help us to learn the world around us. This includes engaging in physical touch with your little one to increase their awareness of body parts. This will then lead to increased motor skills as they learn to control their arms/legs. Engage with toys that have textures for oral exploration. This is one of the first ways a baby learns to play, through taste! Make bath time a time for water play and not always about trying to scrub this week’s dinner off of their face. Try moving your baby’s legs up and down in the water while chanting “kick, kick, kick”. Scoop up some water and have it trinkle down your baby’s face. While this may seem scary, it will allow your baby to learn to tolerate different textures on their skin. This is important in the future for preventing tantrums when your child is refusing to wear that “itchy” expensive wool sweater you think is perfect for the family Christmas picture because they can’t focus with the fibers touching their skin. You can even combine sensory exploration by playing music and moving your child’s body to the beat of the song! Turn on soft music to expose your little one to different sounds.
The world is huge for such a tiny baby, but you can do your part and help them to learn the world around them through play!