Sensory Development


The basis of all learning for babies is their sensory systems of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. Extensive research has shown that newborn babies can make sense of their world from birth. With each study we are discovering that babies are born with many abilities that help them begin to understand their world almost immediately. Your role, as a caregiver, is to provide an enriched environment that uses the abilities that the babies already have and encourages those that are emerging.


Taste


Taste receptors can recognise five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savoury). Newborns do not like sour flavours and are not able to react to salty tastes yet - this develops around five months.


Taste receptors can recognise five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savoury). Newborns do not like sour flavours and are not able to react to salty tastes yet - this develops around five months.


Activities:


  • Toddlers: you could try letting your them play with a taste treasure basket. Citrus fruits, herbs, soft fruits and some blanched vegetables can be used (never leave your little one alone with the food).  

  • Make homemade edible finger paint using plain yogurt and natural food colourings.


Smell


The sense of smell is also well-developed at birth. As with tastes, the amniotic fluid is also rich with smells. Studies have shown that within hours of birth babies respond much like adults to a variety of odours. They prefer the smell of a lactating woman over a non-lactating woman and they prefer the smell of their mother to the smell of other women. The sense of smell is something that infants continue to use throughout infancy.


Activities:

  • Sensory smell bags: use small organza bags and fill with scented items.

  • Homemade Citrus Play Dough.

  • Older toddlers make supervised smell potions. Great summer garden activity: leaves, petals, grass etc and water.


Touch


Babies are born with highly sensitive skin, which has been developing in the womb, which means that their sense of touch is quite well developed at birth. Touch is a very important sense that influences parent-baby attachment, their cognitive development, their social development, their ability to withstand stress and the development of their immune system. Touch and massage classes for infants are encouraged as a popular method of enhancing growth and development, reducing pain, and increasing attentiveness and helping to form and strengthen the carer-baby bond.