How to develop your baby’s senses

Stimulus and movement help with the development of a baby’s brain, lays the architecture for all future development and sets a baby up for a healthy, happy and well-coordinated body.  It is never too soon to start developing a baby’s senses.

The number one way to develop a baby’s senses is to engage with him/ her and respond to cues they give you.  Developmental milestones for brain development include: from birth a baby will put their hands in their mouth; from 12 weeks a baby will put objects in their mouth and become spatially aware of their midline; from four months a baby will begin to grab objects and shake them in their hands; at five months a baby will transfer objects from one hand to the other, stimulating the left-right brain interaction and showing the growing development of proprioception. The left-right brain development is further developed as the child begins crawling which is crucial in developing pathways for appropriate hand-eye coordination.

Before six months of age, a baby cannot regulate sensory input and every noise, sound, movement or light can affect their senses. Stimulating a baby a lot is not necessarily better. Each child is different and requires different levels of sensory stimulation, some babies are more sensory sensitive than others. Sensory sensitive babies find it difficult to maintain a calm alert state and can easily become overwhelmed by external sensory input, including new environments or new people. Other babies may relish and welcome the stimulation.

Here are a few tips for developing your baby’s brain and senses:

1.    Massage baby as skin on skin contact provides wonderful stimulus and feedback to the brain.

2.    Prioritising tummy “time” (when the baby is placed on their tummy) from three weeks is imperative for neurological development. This simple act builds neck muscles and activates brainstem pathways which are critical for healthy brain development. As little as 10 seconds can be sufficient. If your baby is too uncomfortable on their tummy it may be due to nerve irritation, and it’s best to have them checked by a chiropractor.

3.    Give baby objects to gaze at. Start with black and white objects initially about 25 to 30cm from their face, progressing to bright objects from about 12 weeks placed at varying distances as their sight develops.

4.    Laughing decreases stress hormones and stimulates the immune system. Blow “kisses” on baby’s tummy, tickle him or her or make funny noises. Babies revel in interaction and it is a great way to stimulate their body and brain.

5.    Use alternate sides when feeding with bottle or breast. This ensures that right-left brain development is even. Baby feels the warmth, smells their parent and hears their parent’s heartbeat. These are all familiar and soothing experiences.

6.    Carry a newborn baby in a supportive carrier. A baby spends nine months in a snuggly warm womb, with constant movement, warmth and physical contact with the mother. Suddenly not experiencing these sensations can be overwhelming. A supportive carry case is also a great bonding time for baby and parent.

The nervous system provides the foundation for all forms of learning including information needed for visual perception, motor planning and body awareness, and the most efficient way to ensure that the development of senses is on track, is to have a baby’s spine assessed by a chiropractor, as chiropractic addresses problems which affect the senses and help to establish correct input to the brain, allowing normal development to progress.

*Shared by Delgado Chiropractic

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