One of the greatest joys of being a parent is seeing your baby develop and grow. They do this by learning new things, often daily!
They do this primarily by developing their 5 senses: Sight, Smell, Touch, Hearing and Taste. Although each of these senses is built at different stages of their lives, each new sense they acquire is a delight to behold.
It is our job as parents to help our babies understand the world through their senses. However, pushing too much sensory interaction can stress out a baby.
Each new experience, sound, smell, sensation, and taste can be overwhelming because it is new to your baby.
So, here are 15 ways to develop your baby’s 5 senses without causing stress!
- Babies don’t see colours the same way adults do, and their vision is blurry with little focus when they are born. You can help your baby’s eye development by introducing them to toys with muted colours such as black and white as contrasting colours. An excellent way to have them happy and entertained is with a coloured crib mobile to focus on.
- Take them to different locations for a walk: whether that is the park, a zoo, or the seaside. Changing their scenery not only helps their eyes develop but also calms them if they are getting stressed.
- Avoid masking any pheromones you produce (which can stress a newborn if they can’t smell you) by always using non scented products. Babies are born with a strong sense of smell and are especially sensitive to the smell of breast milk, their mother, and their father.
- Your baby may have a favourite cuddly toy with a familiar smell that they use to calm and comfort themselves. So be aware that if you wash it, it might take the familiarity away and cause stress.
- Different essential oils in a diffuser can calm down a baby while at the same time introduce them to new smells. Try various scents to see which your baby responds to best.
- If you are breastfeeding, be wary of the food that you eat, as babies’ stomachs are young, and certain foods can cause discomfort and potential stress for your baby and yourself. If you are introducing food already, consider baby-led weaning, whereby a baby can touch and taste at the same time to develop their senses.
- Newborns have the sense of touch long before they are born. This is why skin on skin contact is so important. If your child enjoys close contact, continue doing this at times where they may seem stressed. Being close to your baby releases oxytocinin their brain, which has a calming effect on their body.
- To continue their sensory development, use feathers or cloths over different parts of their body to stimulate their emotional growth and calm them simultaneously. Turn it into a game, and see other cognitive aspects develop, such as laughing and smiling.
- Build on your babies’ sense of touch by offering them different items to hold and to learn about the world. This is also great as a distraction technique if they get overwhelmed. (Note: make sure it is clean, big and not sharp).
- Bath time is mostly a relaxing time for a baby. However, be prepared and don’t allow them to get cold or shocked by the water due to temperature change. Reduce any stress by adding a small tower on top of their stomach. This allows them to feel secure and warm simultaneously. Finish off your baby’s bath time with an affectionate and soothing massage.
- On the flip side, too much touch can be overwhelming. Learn to read your babies cues when they become fussy or overtired. Offer them a toy or blanket that they can stroke and hold to soothe themselves.
- We are sure you have heard that a baby can hear while they are still in the womb. Once they are born, they are already familiar with your voice. And that is comforting to them. So, keep talking to them. If you love singing, then sing! Plus, if you sing one song long enough, it may become their favourite song for soothing.
- Children can be sensitive to sudden loud sounds, which can shock and stress them. But all babies are different. Don’t be scared of making noise while they are asleep. This helps them get used to noise around them from an early age, so you don’t have to tiptoe around them when they get older.
- Some babies do get stressed or distracted by sound. This can cause havoc with their sleep. Not enough sleep makes for a household full of stress. If that is the case for you, consider investing in a white noise machine, as it helps reduce your baby’s stress levels and soothe them.
- If all else fails, and you don’t know how to reduce their stress – just hold them (using a baby carrier works wonders) That way, they can See you, Smell you, Touch you and Hear you. What else could be better!