Musical experiences can make a huge difference to all areas of learning and development. Songs and action rhymes develop language and listening skills, hand-eye coordination, muscle strength, socialisation and neurological development of the brain. Playing an instrument encourages children to release stress and frustration and to experiment with and explore sound patterns. Fine motor movements and finger coordination are also enhanced as a result. Listening to music boosts attention, mood, memory and motivation. Movement to music improves physical endurance, muscle strength, posture and creativity. Music in all its forms can give children a sense of security, a sense of belonging and a sense of importance.
Touch is one of your baby’s earliest sensory experiences and it plays an important role in the development of the brain. Massage and close physical contact (especially skin-to-skin) stimulates the production of oxytocin (known as the ‘love’ or bonding’ hormone), which makes your baby feel comfortable, warm and safe.
In the womb, your growing baby was lulled by the sensation of rocking and swaying. After the birth, your baby finds comfort when you rock or sway her in your arms.
If your baby needs a lot of holding, a wrap or carrier will keep her close while freeing up your hands for other tasks.
Give your baby toys to look at, shake, and touch to boost her development. When your baby is about three months old, she’ll bring everything to her mouth and learn about texture, shape, taste, smell, temperature, size and weight. But as soon as your baby starts crawling or moving about independently, be on the lookout for small, hazardous objects that could end up in her mouth.
Smell and taste
Within an hour of the birth, your baby uses her highly developed sense of smell and taste to locate the breast. Breast milk has a similar smell and taste to amniotic fluid, which your baby swallowed in the womb. Its sweet taste triggers the release of opiates in the brain, which calm your baby.
When nursed or during skin-to-skin, your baby experiences your taste and smell, which provides reassurance and comfort. A cloth sprinkled with milk or your familiar scent can offer your baby comfort when you’re not available. And there are plenty of other opportunities to stimulate this sense in the home from cooking smells to the scent of fresh flowers, herbs and baking bread.
If your baby has started solids, she’ll enjoy exploring the smell and taste of different foods. She’ll soon let you know which ones she likes best. The more varied your diet during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be willing to try different foods.
Age and stage appropriate toys will offer a wealth of sensory learning opportunities and lead development forwards. Black and white pictures to look at, and rattles that can be grasped, will stimulate the interest of a newborn or very young baby.
Books with textured or sparkly materials, brightly coloured pictures and hide-and-seek surprises are also favourites for babies of all ages.
Sensory toys for babies aged three to six months include objects that can be brought to the mouth, and play gyms that can be biffed and kicked. From six to nine months old, pop-up toys, musical instruments, tea sets, and activity centres with buttons to press provide an endless source of sensory stimulation. Large plastic bricks to stack or bang, shape sorters, and push along toys are fun and educational for babies aged nine to twelve months old. A treasure basket containing interesting everyday objects or a cardboard box filled with paper or fabric will develop hand-eye coordination, keep little hands busy, and boost your baby’s intellectual development.
Where possible, limit the number of objects or toys to one or two at any one time to maintain interest. Look out for cues such as looking away from you, rubbing her eyes, yawning, fussing, jerky or disorganised movements. They may suggest that your baby needs a change of activity, quiet time, a cuddle or a nap.
The Baby Sensory Experience – What makes us unique?
What makes our multi-award-winning programme so special is that every element is carefully designed with a baby’s development in mind. Much of our equipment and many of the songs are unique to us, and there’s decades of research built into the programme.
Class leaders regularly explain what we’re doing and why. For the first year of a baby’s life is one of the most important. Soon after birth, the brain starts creating two million new connections every second! We love helping parents to make the most of this amazing time in their baby’s life. Each component of a Baby Sensory session is based on years of research, intricately designed with purpose in mind. From the arrangement of the mats – the core distance a baby can see – to the decibel measurement of the hand bells, to the knowledge that ‘Shhhh’ mimics the comforting sound of blood rushing through the placenta: every element has been carefully considered.
Babies and their adults can join us at any time – classes are suitable from birth – and we’d encourage them to begin as soon as they feel able.
It’s a lovely way to make new friends, and for you to share tips and experiences at a time when you probably really appreciate the support. Attending weekly classes is also great for getting out of the house; helping add some structure to a life that’s probably become very different all of a sudden.
Whilst every session is unique, they’re structured to follow the natural play-rest-play cycle of babies. This helps them to avoid becoming over or under-stimulated, and routine is important for their security and development.
Our original, multi award-winning programme, offering a complete approach to learning and development is from birth. The first year of a baby’s life is the most important. During this time their brain will double in volume, constructing foundations for their intellectual future. So it’s never too early to start out on that learning path!
As well as being full of fun, Baby Sensory classes will further your baby’s brain and physical development, laying the foundations to their future learning. You and your baby will be introduced to a world of sensory delights, where you can relax, spend quality time with each other and enjoy meeting other new parents. Specifically designed from birth, to aid your child’s development, the classes are packed with an incredible variety of sounds, smells, sights, textures, music, dance, singing and more.