GUEST POST: A sensory world (pt1)
Joanna Grace is a Sensory Engagement and Inclusion Specialist, Author, Trainer, TEDx speaker and Founder of The Sensory Projects. She has a 5 year old son and at the time of writing was 6 months pregnant with her second child.
A baby’s world is a sensory one. They pop out (well not exactly pop, but let’s pretend things are so simple) into this world from the protective cocoon of your womb and immediately their tiny brains are inundated with sensory information.
Your communication with them will be sensory. You can use the senses to sooth them, to bond with them, and to engage and stimulate their developing brains.
In this series of three little blogs I am going to give you some starting out ideas for doing each of these things. If you get the sensory bug, as I did, then explore for more because there is a wonderful sensory world out there.
Your baby has just spent months safe inside you this world is a wonderful surprise to them but at times it can be a bit too much. Think how you would feel if you were plunged into a raucous office party when all you wanted to do was curl up and sleep. Stimulation that could be fun becomes distressing. To sooth them you are looking to replicate the sensory environment they have come from. This is why we sometimes swaddle babies – to give them the sensation of being wrapped up safe inside your body. It is why we rock babies – to mimic the rocking movement of you walking around when they lived inside your skin. But there are other sensations in the womb available to us to offer a tired and teary baby.
One I loved with my first son was womb sounds. By playing him recordings of womb noises I was able to give him the auditory environment he remembered from being inside my body. Have a hunt on Youtube, I tried to find tracks that did not have music overlaid on top of the sounds of the body, for example this one:
If you are fortunate and get to carry your baby to full term then they will have been able to open their eyes inside you and will have seen the pinky-red light of the sun through your flesh. If your baby is napping during the daytime hanging a red scarf over the window, or even putting up some red or pink cellophane over the window can give this warm lighting effect in an improvised way. You can also buy red light bulbs, but people might get the wrong idea about your house!
Another sense your baby will have used in the womb, that we all know to be soothing, is taste, your amniotic fluids tasted sweet to your child. Some cultural traditions welcome their children into the world with a dab on honey on their tongue, however research into offering little babies honey warns us that this could be a risky practice. If you want to give an alternative sweet taste to milk you can dissolve a little sugar in warm water and dip your finger into it.
For more information about the sensory world take a look at Jo's book Sensory-being for Sensory Beings and visit www.TheSensoryProjects.co.uk