Play is one of the best ways to help your baby develop his senses. Through play, your baby learns to explore and understand his environment. They also develop their motor and sensory skills. All activities such as playing, changing diapers or feeding are excellent opportunities to develop the senses of touch, smell, sight and taste.
How can I stimulate my baby's senses?
You can start immediately after birth. Even before birth, your baby will be listening to your voice and other everyday sounds. He'll feel your movements and taste the food you eat.
Even before birth, your baby is able to recognize your voice and smell, and is instinctively attracted to both. He loves to hear you talk and when you're near him.
Your baby also likes to talk, even if he can't speak yet. He's attracted by faces and will often try to imitate their expressions to communicate with you.
Stick out your tongue as you open and close your mouth: he might try to imitate you! And if he doesn't react, you can be sure he's enjoying your attention! This is just the beginning of a lifelong conversation between you and your child!
How can I stimulate my baby's sensory development?
Meeting your baby's basic needs takes a lot of time, but you can stimulate his senses with daily activities:
- When your baby is in his crib, stroller or playmat, give him interesting objects to look at and touch. You can also place your child in different parts of the house to enjoy different perspectives.
Try to put your baby to sleep on his tummy for a short period at least three times a day. You can gradually increase the length of these sessions until your baby spends around an hour on his tummy during the day. As your child becomes more physically active, make sure he can roll over safely, crawl and climb over obstacles such as cushions.
- Talk to your baby and describe what you're doing, whether it's climbing the stairs or preparing a meal. If you notice that your baby is interested in something, talk to him about it. He'll be much more likely to learn from you if he likes something!
- When you change your baby's diaper, describe what you're doing and imagine how your child feels, to help him describe his emotions. Let him touch the cotton, wet wipes and clean diapers, and describe the different textures.
- As your baby drinks his milk, gently stroke his back and make eye contact to strengthen your emotional bond. As your child begins to eat solid foods, describe the taste and texture of each food and encourage your baby to explore them with his mouth and hands. This may create a bit of chaos, but your baby will be delighted!
- Encourage your baby to discover his toys in different ways: by shaking, pushing, stacking or stroking them.
- Use the bath to teach your child the difference between swimming and sinking, hot and cold, dry and wet. Show your baby how water flows with different objects, and encourage him to discover it for himself with cups, sponges and empty plastic bottles.
Children's sensory development
Visit sense of touch is the first sense that babies use to explore the world around them. Everything your baby touches, whether with his own hands or with toys, helps him to better understand what he perceives. Babies also love to be touched, as it gives them a sense of warmth and comfort. You can help your baby develop his sense of touch by offering him different textures to explore, having him massage his hands or feet, and giving him objects to touch.
The sense of smell is the second sense that babies use to learn about their environment. Babies love to smell their mother and father, as well as food and toys. You can help your baby develop his sense of smell by offering him objects to smell, having him smell different smells and talking to him about what he smells.
The view is the third sense that babies use to learn about their environment. Babies like to look at things around them and try to understand them. You can help your baby develop his sight by showing him different objects and talking to him about what he sees.
Taste is the fourth sense that babies use to learn about their environment. Babies like to taste the foods and toys they come into contact with. You can help your baby develop his sense of taste by offering him different foods and toys to explore.
What sensory games and activities can help my baby's development?
Although his vision is still a little blurred until around five months, your baby can see the details of your face. Observing your facial expressions and behavior will play a crucial role in the development of your child's social skills.
Between two and four months, your baby will begin to make eye contact with you. He may even smile, "talk" or gesture. Your reaction to these little signals will help him to become aware of himself, and help you both to bond.
In the first few months of life, your baby also develops the ability to coordinate head and eye movements. This helps them observe moving objects and understand how they relate to other objects in their environment. You can help your child develop this ability by slowly moving a toy into his field of vision and encouraging him to look at it.
At birth, your baby's sense of touch is highly developed. His mouth is particularly sensitive to textures and temperature, and your baby is ready to explore new objects.
At around five months, your baby is able to reach objects. You can encourage your child's physical development by placing a toy in his field of vision, but out of his reach. Watch how your child waddles, stretches and rolls to reach it! Use a rattle or hang up a mobile that your baby can bump into, thus learning about cause and effect.
Gently caress and massage your baby to calm and soothe using the sense of touch. You'll probably enjoy it as much as your baby, and you'll relax too!
Your baby recognizes your voice from birth. He can recognize when you change your tongue, and is more receptive to a happy tone than a neutral or sad one. Every time you speak to him, your baby listens to you and develops his knowledge of different sounds, rhythms and patterns.
When you talk to your baby, let him respond by smiling, chirping or laughing, and answer him in return. This shows your baby that you're interested in what he's saying, and helps him enrich his language and develop his understanding.
Chatting, playing and laughing with your baby is also very important for your well-being. Your body secretes oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a close, loving bond between you and your baby. Your baby's father also produces oxytocin when he carries your child, plays with him or talks to him. The more oxytocin your partner produces, the more involved he becomes.
How much time should I devote to stimulating my baby?
Your baby's attention span is much shorter than that of older children and adults. Your child can quickly become overwhelmed by too many stimuli. Your baby is tired or bored when :
- he rubs his eyes,
- He looks away,
- He cries or gets angry,
- He bends his back,
- He closes his eyes or dozes off.
If you feel your baby has been sufficiently distracted, let him rest by putting his toys away, holding him in your arms or gently singing him a song. If your child seems tired, let him take a break. siesta.
There's no need to set a specific time of day to play with your baby. When he's calm, making eye contact, waving his arms and legs and making sounds, he's probably ready to play! You'll find that this is often the case when your child has eaten well and is rested.
Over time, you'll learn to interpret your baby's signals. Don't worry if you can't do it right away.
Can group activities or games stimulate my baby?
You're your baby's first playmate, and you should be able to offer him the stimulation he needs in the early stages of his life. Your shared activities, such as cuddling, making faces, "talking", singing, reading stories and exploring interesting objects and toys, are rich sources of stimulation for your child.
As your child gets older, you may want to consider involving him or her in group activities such as musical stimulation. Although babies don't start playing with other children until the middle of their second year, taking part in group activities can have other benefits.
In one study, six-month-old babies were observed taking part in a weekly music education session during which they sang songs with gestures and played a musical instrument. Their behavior was compared with that of babies taking part in a music class during which they listened to songs and played with toys.
The study revealed that babies who played an instrument during music lessons had better musical perception and communication skills. However, it is not known whether the babies would have developed similar skills if they had only played music at home with their parents.
Group activities can also be a great way to meet other parents and find playmates for your baby. It's also a great excuse to get out of the house and stimulate your own senses. If you're feeling fitter and more refreshed, your baby will probably enjoy being with you all the more!
Remember that every baby develops at his or her own pace. If you feel that your baby doesn't do the same things as other children his or her age, it doesn't mean that there's a problem or that your child doesn't like interacting with you. However, if your baby's senses worry you, you should talk to your doctor.