What’s it like to be a Baby Part II
Part 2: What Every Parent Needs to Know
When babies are born, they cannot comprehend the environment they are in. They felt perfectly safe inside the womb while hearing only their mother's voice and heart. It is interesting to note that, since the heart beat is the first rhythmic sound recognised by a baby while inside the womb, the drum, therefore, is the first musical instrument any human is exposed to.
After being born, everything is a blur. This makes learning through the use of human senses the most important activity during the first two years of a baby’s life. In Psychology textbooks, you might have encountered the term Sensorimotor Stage. As the name implies, “senses and motor”, your baby’s brain develops by exploring the world through touching, smelling, tasting, and feeling. Likewise, the baby's body becomes an instrument for gathering information about the environment based on what he or she feels, touches, and grabs. After the 5th month, your baby’s eyes can already perceive depth and colors. In the next blog, we will discuss in detail how the baby's movement develops.
As the senses play a crucial role in brain development, it is important for parents to know that babies have not yet gathered enough sensory information to determine what is safe and what is not safe. For example, a 10-year-old child and an adult instinctively would spit a nail if they accidentally ate it in their food. The unusual, cold, metallic texture of the nail should not be included in one’s food. This we know but babies do not have association with nails yet that is why they can accidentally swallow things they should not be swallowing!
Notice your baby as he or she puts things in the mouth or lets the lips touch whatever he or she has grabbed. This is a sign that the baby is trying to learn about the world around so make sure that all the toys in the crib are clean! The lips and the finger tips are packed with nerve endings which makes them perfect for exploring the surroundings. This is the perfect time to buy your child texture and sensory toys. Just be careful not to buy anything that is too small that they could swallow. As your baby matures, parents should try buying other sensory toys like those that make sounds or music. This would help parents determine if the child has hearing problems or is sensitive to sound.
Thus, the first learning experience of your baby depends greatly on receiving sensory information from the environment. With this alone, parents have a lot to ponder about with regards to the set-up of the nursery and the baby’s routine.
In our next blog, the six stages of sensory-motor intelligence will be discussed. I shall summarize what parents can expect in terms of their baby’s development. If you are interested to know about these milestones, check our blog for new articles.
By Juno Parungao, Ph.D.