Why is Play Important?
From birth to early childhood and beyond, children utilise their eight senses to help them understand the exciting world around them. Babies are extremely sensory. They love touching things and putting everything in their mouths. It’s how they use their senses to explore the world around them. Therefore, sensory play is perfect for babies. It helps them discover and explore not only the world, but also their senses. Babies need little things to keep them entertained while playing. They need you - as you are your baby’s best toy, especially in their first few months of life - other children to interact with, and a few simple items for sensory stimulation.
What is Sensory Play and how does it benefit your child?
Sensory Play - includes activities that arouse and enhances children’s senses.
These senses include movement/balance, proprioception, touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, and interoception.
The five common senses are also called our ‘Exteroceptors’, which is just a fancy word for receptors telling your child what is going on outside their body. These senses are:
• Sight (Visual sense)
• Sound (Auditory sense)
• Taste (Gustatory sense)
• Smell (Olfactory sense)
• Touch (Tactile sense)
Theses senses protect your baby from and connect them with their outside world.
The other 3 more important inner senses are:
• Vestibular/Balance Sense - most important sense of all the senses – it is the sense of balance and motion. Once a baby is born, any movement that changes their position or gently rocks, rolls, bounces, swings, or spins them stimulates and strengthens their vestibular system. This sets them up for good motor skills.
• Proprioceptive Sense - this sense tells your baby about where their body parts are and how their body moves.
• Interoceptors -this sense is needed to tell your baby about the inside working of their body e.g., hunger, tiredness, sleepiness.
(Adapted excerpt from the internationally published book - ‘The Sensory Rollercoaster’ by our very own Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist, Desiree Frigenti.. This book is available through Ocean Kids or amazon.com.au)
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Ocean Kids Health Team