Developing the 5 Senses with Infants
(This post was originally shared on Building Blocks and Acorns in July 2014)
One morning the sun was shining brightly into our play space. Toys and baskets were strewn about as my twin infants were crawling about exploring. Suddenly I realized that my daughter hadn't moved in a while. She was paused, mid-crawl, watching the sunlight beam through the basket. It was making a pattern on the floor and she was fascinated.
We try so hard as parents. During the first three years of life, the brain develops and shapes itself in ways that are vital for later development. This puts a lot of pressure on parents. We need to get these years right. We surround our children with educational materials and quality environments. We play with them, comfort them, and feed them. Sometimes, however, I wonder if we are trying too hard. Infants are interested in the simple things, like light streaming through a basket. Their bodies are constantly interpreting sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. It is our job to introduce them to the world, small piece by piece. There are many easy, inexpensive ways to stimulate their five senses and help them make sense of our complicated world.
Here were 10 of our favorite ways to explore the senses with our infants:
1. Place a mirror low on the ground in your play space. Low on the wall or directly on the floor are both interesting invitations. Allow your child to discover the mirror and explore.
2. Make sensory bottles. These are awesome for exploring sight and sound. Include a wide variety of experiences.
3. Make a sound basket with things that make different sounds: crinkly paper, bell, egg shaker, etc
4. Lay a blanket outside. Feel the breeze and hear all the different sounds outside around you.
5. Introduce your baby to lots of different flavors and a variety of foods (gradually of course!)
6. Be okay with some toys going in your child's mouth. Have materials on hand that are washable and sanitize them frequently if you are concerned, but infants need to mouth things. They are using their mouth to explore and learn valuable information.
7. Introduce to simple sensory experiences like finger paint or cornstarch and water.
8. Tactile baskets. Create simple baskets with household items for your child to explore. For instance, a hard and soft basket with items that are both hard (block, spoon) and soft (fabric, sponge).
9. Invite your child into the kitchen (if they don't follow you there already). Similar to tasting different smells this way they'll smell them too. Cook a wide variety of food.
10. Carry your child with you when you work in the garden or visit a farmer's market. Talk to them about what you smell.
At the end of the day it is these experiences, exploring the world, and how you talk to your child about it that will have the most impact. These simple moments and explorations together with your child are enough.
Various Common Materials
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