From the time they are born, children need constant stimulation. Providing fun and educational activities provides children with the necessary opportunities to explore their new world in the safest environment possible. Part of this process involves parents actively stimulating all five of their senses.
By the baby’s seventh month in the womb, every sense is initially developed. This is why newborns can see, feel, hear, smell and taste. From birth, babies are ready to learn about their new world and all that awaits them. However, most of the senses need encouragement to mature fully.
Children can develop their visual sense in a variety of ways. They initially learn the blinking reflex upon entering the world. Once the baby settles into a more soothing environment, he or she will scan their parent’s faces with interest. Although immature, their visual systems can see quite well at distances of 8 to 12 inches from their noses. Using educational toys from a very early age can aid in sight development, by using interactive baby gym mats, brightly colored mobiles, vividly decorated blankets, and a host of other visually stimulating items. This can help them learn to exercise their eye muscles to focus and develop depth perception.
Touch is the first sense that a baby encounters in life. As one of the more important means of communication, babies enjoy gentle and caring rhythmic motion. They become accustomed to the movements of their mothers while in the womb. After birth, the same motion can comfort the baby, as well. For example, infants usually become quiet when they are gently rocked. Even bathing and feeding play a big part in development, as this promotes bonding. Touching an infant through tender strokes and allowing an them to reciprocate this caress provides security and nurture to your baby. Toys with various textures and surfaces can peak a babies curiosity, which inspire adventure at an early age.
Hearing is an essential element to early developmental learning. During pregnancy, babies listen to his or her mother’s voice, as well as the sounds of breathing, heartbeat and digestion. This is why a baby is soothed when his or her head is pressed against the chest and often falls asleep at this time.
As infants develop control over head movement, they can also learn to locate sound sources. Soft music and toys with pleasant sounds also arouse the baby’s hearing sense. Talking and singing to little ones encourages them to respond with their own sounds, which will aid in learning to talk. Classical music has long been associated with mental aptitude, especially in babies and small children. It is believed that the symphony of notes and instruments both calms the mind and excite the centers of the brain responsible for intellect and learning. Products by brands such as Baby Einstein and Baby Genius are geared toward blending classical music and colorful art. In addition, the theory of symphony music enhancing intelligence has become very popular in early childhood education.
Smell and Taste
Newborns demonstrate their sense of smell when they turn away from unpleasant odors. Babies also quickly learn to recognize aromas that are familiar, particularly the scent of their parents. In actuality, it is recommended that they be exposed to the smell of family during the early days of life because of the importance of bonding and familiarity. If possible, potent aromas should be avoided in order to prohibit confusion during this crucial period of development. However, as they mature, fragrances that encourage relaxation and peace, such as lavender or chamomile are great for soothing babies.
Some moms swear their unborn babies have a specific preference for one food over another. Though research has shown taste buds are not completely mature early on, babies have revealed they can distinguish between sour and sweet flavors, and many prefer the latter. This is why breast milk and formula can tend to have a sweet taste.
Pregnant mothers are encouraged to eat foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon and other fish to promote healthy brain growth in their unborn infants. Breastfeeding for the first 6 months is also advocated to increase intelligence and bonding. IQ has been shown to increase in toddlers who eat healthy foods like beans, vegetables, fruit, and cheese in up to 24 months.
New babies are continually receiving and responding to various environmental stimuli. Failure to stimulate the senses can have tragic effects upon their physical, as well as psychological development and growth. However, understanding how to provide the correct type of sensory input for babies will help infants successfully learn about their new world.
By providing children with educational activities and toys, parents are granting them opportunities to learn essential and basic life skills. Also, kids with interactive educational toys are less apt to become bored and may be more easily engaged.
Jamica Bell is an educator and contributes this article as a way to promote healthy lifestyles and parenting. Kids II, Inc is a leading innovative infant and toddler product designer and distribution company. Creating and marketing everything from baby gym mats to educational videos, this Atlanta based company sells more than 22.8 million goods per year and has won over 100 global awards. Kids II, Inc has donated $1 million to charities all over the world in an effort of positively impact their global community.
Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/e2QMS5
I have a 10 month old, and as many interactive baby toys that I buy her, she still goes for my cell phone, or the dog bone whenever she gets the chance. I resisted my mom’s suggestions about making my own toys because there are so many fun things out there now, but truth be told, my daughter is usually more interested in the box it came in!
Isn’t that funny? My son is 7, and sometimes he’s still more excited about boxes than toys! When he was a baby, I could have saved a fortune just giving him boxes.
I find that the attraction to the simple things is still pretty common even as kids get older. My son is 6 and he has taken to making cardboard swords and axes rather than play with the ones I have purchased at the store. Crazy!
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