The 5 senses are sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. It is essential to stimulate all of these senses, as they send information directly to your newborns’ brain.
Your baby goes through states of wakefulness during the day. It is important to recognise these states too. There is deep sleep, light sleep, drowsy, calm-alert and active-alert. The best state for learning is the calm-alert state. This is where we focus our attention, as this is the optimal time to engage with your baby.
Our sense of touch is received through the skin and gives information about temperature, pain, touch and pressure. It gives a sense of our bodies as to whether you are being comforted of threatened
– Skin on skin: this is done as soon as your baby is born. As part of your birth plan, request that your baby is placed on your chest as soon as soon as it is safe to do so. This facilitates immediate bonding and provides comfort for your baby.
– Lips: kiss your baby at every opportunity
– Massage: use times of changing and bathing to massage your babys’ feet, arms etc. This helps calm your child, and gentle strokes to the stomach help with wind.
– Textured blankets: these provide sensory stimulation
– Swaddling: this replicates the secure feel of the womb. Swaddle your baby in blankets daily.
– Hugs and comforting. Make sure you handle your baby firmly and confidently.
Taste is perceived by receptors on the tongue. The new born is obviously limited to breast milk or formula and this should provide all the taste sensation needed in the early stages.
Smell is perceived by receptors in the nose but is the only sense that goes directly to the emotion centre in the brain; this explains why smells can elicit such strong emotions and explains how the baby will identify the smell of his mother.
– Avoid strong perfumes, chemicals, smoke, citrus, cinnamon and air fresheners.
– Lavender and camomile are soothing, calming smells.
– A mothers’ smell is second to none, and is the most identifiable smell for your baby.
– Baby fabric softener can be used, as it is a “baby” smell
A newborn can only focus on objects about 20 cm away, which mother nature designed to be the perfect distance to see his mother!!! He will respond to light, colour and objects so keep them close enough to be within this range.
– Invest in a mobile for your infants’ cot.
– Have toys with bright colours.
– Have a night light that creates an ambience in the nursery.
– Natural light during the day
Sound is received via airwaves and received by receptors in the ear. We learn to identify where sounds come from and thus attached meaning to these sounds. Our babies start hearing in the womb, and hear the world muffled from within. Your baby most likely already knows the sound of your voice by the time they are born.
– Keep voices calm and soothing.
– Talk frequently to your baby
– Find appropriate music such as classical or lullabies to play to your baby during their awake times. Music during sleep time and before bed may over-stimulate them.
– Sounds which imitate the sounds in the womb can be used, such as a CD that only plays white noise.
– Your heartbeat is also important, so keep your child close to your chest at times.
– Sing to your baby, if you don’t know the words, humming is perfect.
Your baby should experience something new every day. Be aware of this and ensure your child is receiving the necessary stimulation to all 5 senses to flourish steadily. Engage with your baby, show them the world, as you are your baby’s primary guide to this thing called life.