Week 3: Sensory and Environment

 

sensory activities for your 6-12 month old

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The best time to engage in one-on-one play with your baby is when he is alert and happy— after a feeding or once fully awake after a nap. 

Read baby's cues— she will let you know when she's had enough (close eyes, turn away, cry) and when she is ready for more stimulation.   

If your baby appears sensitive to different textures, let him experience them slowly, on his terms. And re-introduce gradually.

Repetition is best in short and frequent bursts.

You are also your child's best advocate. If you see any signs of delay in development, speak to your physician. Early intervention can prevent small dysfunctions from turning into full-blown disorders. 


visual input

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Babies at this age are visually oriented— it is what they see that helps them to move and explore. They will examine an object's size, shape and texture and beginning to understand concepts like front/back, top/bottom. 
 

  • Continue to read to your baby daily. 
  • Drop items and look to see where it went
  • Hide toys under a cloth
  • Play social games like peekaboo
  • Keep toys out of reach to promote movement

vestibular and proprioceptive input

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The vestibular system helps us influence muscle tone and develop our sense of balance. The proprioceptive sense lets us know where our limbs are in relation to each other and in the context of our surroundings. 

Movement is key!

  • Dance with your baby
  • Enable crawling (see resources for podcast on this)
  • Push stroller both slowly and quickly
  • Use bucket swing at local park 
  • Roughhouse, play on physio ball, give airplane rides! 
  • Swimming is another great activity 




 


tactile input

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How your baby will respond to various textures and pressure during different movements, depends on how well he integrates sensory information. 
 

  • Massage baby- hold and rub soles of feet
  • Provide different objects to hold (vary shape, size, firmness)— various fabrics (velvet, burlap, lace, satin, flannel), foams, feathers, water of different temperatures
  • Encourage play in and around water, sand, mud, grass, bubbles

    Provide napkin to wipe hands/face if child doesn't like messy play, but otherwise embrace the mess in the name of sensory integration. 

 


auditory input

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Every baby responds to noise differently. Some do not mind sirens and vacuums while others become very upset when they hear loud, unexpected noises. 

Since babies move in response to sound, auditory input also fosters motor and speech development. 

  • Play and sing music 
  • Label and point at common objects
  • Say their name
  • Use musical instruments (a pot and spoon will do)
  • Read two books a day 

smell and taste

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Your baby's senses of smell and taste are expanding rapidly. Keep away from noxious odours and let him experience pleasant ones, such as milk, good food and flowers. And naturally, their most favourite smell is YOU.

Diffusing high quality essential oils is a nice way to promote smells in the home. Citrus and lavender are favourites. 

At this stage, your baby is trying new foods. Encourage mouthing long pieces of food because this desensitizes the mouth, decreasing sensitivity to food, brushing and mouthing objects. Chewing and sucking on toys/food also helps develop the oral-motor muscles that are needed for more developed chewing and speech. 


space at home 

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  • Keep it simple
  • Declutter and minimize toys to optimize play and reduce sensory overload
  • Clear an area for baby to play on the floor
  • To make life simpler, have a place for everything 


Have too much stuff? Not sure where to start? I wrote a beautiful ebook on reducing kids' stuff. You can read more about it here.


signs that your child may be sensitive to input

Tactile

  • Becomes excessively fussy during changing time
  • Avoids tasks that are wet or messy (finger painting)
    Has an aversion to stepping on sand, mud, grass
  • Is very fussy about clothing choices
  • Continues to take clothes off or needs to wear long-sleeved shifts and pants (to protect from touch)
  • Is a sloppy eater (doesn't notice food on face)
  • Does not like to have hair combed, to have teeth brushed or to be bathed
  • May need to touch everything or everyone

Vestibular and Proprioceptive                                                                  

  • Avoids trying new positions like rolling, somersaulting,
    turning upside down & fears movement (slides, swings).
  • Tires easily.
  • Avoids playing with two hands
  • Has poor protective responses
  • Bumps into objects, falls often, loses balance easily
  • Is a sensory seeker (spins & jumps alot, never gets dizzy)
  • Does not creep or crawl on hands and knees
  • Has a weak grasp, low endurance 
  • Locks joints to stabilize movements 

 

This information is simply to inform and validate if you are seeing something out of the ordinary to honour your child, seek support as needed and also to continue to expose them to activities mentioned above. It is not intended to cause extra fear, worry or stress. 


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