Sensory Stimulation for Infant Children

March 12, 2024

There are a number of topics that parents and caregivers alike will focus on when it comes to the development of young children, and some of these begin very early in a child's life. A great example here is the topic of sensory stimulation, which is a huge part of how infants, toddlers and other young children engage with and understand the world around them during their development years.

At Devlin's Child Development, we're proud to offer a wide range of child care services to families around Sandy, including preschool programs, after school care and daycare programs for children as young as infant age. Speaking specifically to infants (children under a year old), how should parents and caregivers be thinking about sensory stimulation, and which sorts of activities in this area are generally appropriate? We'll break this down into four bins based on monthly age ranges for infants.

Defining Sensory Stimulation

Before we dive into age ranges and activities, it's worth taking a moment to define exactly what we mean by sensory stimulation in this context. Essentially, we're referring to the ways that infants are exposed to different sensations in their environment, and how they respond and interact with these sensations.

This can include things like touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. As infants grow older, they'll become more and more interested in exploring the world around them, and sensory stimulation is a key way for them to do so. It's also an important aspect of their overall cognitive development.

0-3 Months

In the first three months of life, infants are still getting used to their new environment outside of the womb, and their senses are still developing. During this time, it's important to focus on gentle and soothing sensory experiences. This can include activities like swaddling, massaging with baby-safe oils, and listening to calming music.

In addition, this is a period where sight is very important for newborns and young infants. Colorful mobiles and other visually stimulating toys or objects can help them begin to track and focus on objects.

Another key concept here is bouncing, rocking and carrying infants. These types of movements can help stimulate their vestibular system (responsible for balance and spatial orientation), which is still developing at this stage.

3-6 Months

Between three and six months, babies are becoming more interested in exploring their environment, including anything they can get their hands on. Soft toys with different textures, such as plush animals or cloth books, can be great for tactile stimulation.

This is also a good time to introduce infants to the concept of tummy time, if they have not already started. This activity helps strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles, and also allows them to interact with different textures on the floor.

As for sight, babies at this age are starting to develop more depth perception, so toys that have contrasting colors or patterns can be engaging for them.

6-9 Months

Between six and nine months, infants are mastering the art of crawling and beginning to explore their environment more actively. This is a great time to introduce sensory bins, which are containers filled with different materials, such as rice, beans or water, that babies can play and interact with.

Another activity that can be beneficial at this stage is introducing infants to music and musical instruments. They may enjoy banging on drums or shaking rattles to create different sounds.

Within this age range, or sometimes also the one before it, the concept of object permanence also begins to develop. This is the understanding that objects still exist even when they are out of sight. Games like peek-a-boo can help reinforce this concept.

9-12 Months                                          

Around nine to twelve months, infants are becoming more mobile and may start pulling themselves up or taking their first steps. This new level of physical development can be supported through sensory activities such as playing with sensory balls, which are soft and textured balls that can be squeezed or rolled.

As their language skills begin to develop, reading books with different textures or sounds, such as pop-up books or interactive picture books, can also be stimulating for infants at this age.

Sensory stimulation is an important aspect of infant development and should be incorporated into their daily routines. As they grow and develop, their sensory experiences will continue to evolve and expand, laying the foundation for further cognitive development. As parents and caregivers, it's important to provide a safe and stimulating environment for infants to explore and learn from their senses.

At Devlin's Child Development, our infant care program incorporates various sensory activities tailored to each child's age and developmental stage. Our trained staff are knowledgeable on the importance of sensory stimulation and are dedicated to providing a nurturing environment for infants to grow and thrive. Contact us today to learn about any of our child care programs around Sandy!

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