Babies are born with sensory needs. As parents and caretakers, we address those needs daily through touch, sound, sight, smell and food. For some babies, their sensory system may be delayed or under developed. Parents may see a hypersensitive or under sensitive child. This can show itself through excessive crying or delayed responses.
Primitive reflexes such as the Moro reflex, ATNR, plantar grasp or righting reactions may be delayed in their presentation or delayed in their integration. Providing babies with sensory input that encourages sensory motor responses can assist them in reaching milestones and developing at a steady pace. Let’s take a look at 5 key areas to assist with keeping your little ones on a steady growth and development pattern.
- Pressure. Babies come from a very tight space and because of this, they generally crave pressure. They like to be swaddled or wrapped tightly. If you have a fussy baby, you may want to try swaddling them up in a soft stretchy blanket. As they grow into toddlers, if they are still craving pressure, you can try one of our pressure vests or weighted blankets to create a similar feel. Many kids have the need for weight and pressure well into adulthood.
- Positioning. Is your baby symmetrically positioned? Pay close attention to their position in the car seat, stroller, swing or high chair. Are their hips, knees and feet at a 90-degree angle? Is their head directly over their shoulders? If not, they may have low tone and need some positioning tools like rolls or a different seat. Either way, keeps a close eye on them and keep repositioning them into neutral so their nervous system will understand what “normal” feels like. You can sit with your baby on a therapy ball and work on some gentle bouncing and positioning.
- Gross Motor. Using bolsters, swings, therapy balls and wedges can provide great opportunities not only for positioning but also for movement and gross motor skills. As babies develop (from the head down) their muscles become more coordinated and their mobility and control moves from the spine outward to their extremities. Challenging their balance skills with a rocking board or swing can help encourage these skills in children who need an extra push.
- Sound and Sight. Providing soothing sights and sounds can assist with nervous system development. I’m not big fan of toys that make excessive noise and light but controlled light and sound can impact your baby’s development. Try a sensory corner or controlled lighting to encourage neurological development.
- Rocking/Vestibular. Some children are born with a premature vestibular system and need more rocking than others. Choose a baby swing or get a swing to use with your baby to promote great vestibular input. Controlled rocking can be an important part of developing both their visual and auditory systems.