Category: Sensory

Early exposure to sensory activities

“There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses,” – Aristotle

Did you know that when your baby crawls around a room touching objects, playing with toys, listening to you singing songs, or putting things in his mouth, he’s doing a lot more than just playing? Toddlers use their senses to learn about and explore their environment. As a parent, you can enhance this learning by providing a positive sensory experience.

Sensory play or experience would then allow your child to interact with his surroundings and learn about his world. 

Once your child is born, his brain is ready to gain knowledge about the world. They’re actually learning long before they walk and talk. This learning takes place through hearing, touch, taste, sight, smell, and movement. They hear our voices, enjoy bouncing, chew toys, and touch everything they can.

The more positive sensory experiences your baby has, the stronger newly built brain connections become. Sensory play not only has a positive effect on your child now, but also helps to promote learning and development even in adulthood.

Researchers have found that a baby who is not given an appropriate set of opportunities and is kept in a swing most of the day or is kept in a dark, quiet environment for long periods can have his learning and brain development stunted by lack of exposure to sensory stimuli. 

These sensory systems don’t develop simultaneously, but rather in a specific order that does not vary.

This is tactile > vestibular > chemical > audio > visual. The infant has five senses functioning at different levels at the time of birth. 

Building blocks essential to an efficient sensory system

  • For effective sensory processing, all sensory systems need to work together. It should be recognized that the sensory system is indeed composed of seven senses; these sensory systems process information as the building blocks to most of the individual skills.
  • Visual Sense: This is the ability to understand and interpret what is seen. The visual system uses the eyes to collect information about the contrast between light and dark, color, and movement. It receives sensory information from the environment by light waves that stimulate the retina then by the optic nerve to the visual cortex on the back of the brain.
  • Auditory Sense: is the ability to interpret information that is heard. The auditory system uses the external and middle ear to obtain sound information. They collect information about volume, pitch, and rhythm to the brain’s side parts by the 8th nerve.
  • Olfactory Sense is the ability to interpret smells by Receiving the chemical makeup of particles in the air to determine if the smell.
  • Gustatory Sense: it is the ability to interpret information regarding taste in the mouth using specialized buds on the tongue’s upper surface.
  • Tactile Sense: It uses skin receptors to receive sensations of touch, such as fine touch, pressure, vibration, temperature, and pain. This is the first Sense to develop (in the womb), and, as such, it is vital for the overall neural network.
  • Proprioceptive Sense is the ability to interpret where your body parts are in relation to each other. It uses information from the nerves and sheaths of the muscles and bones to inform about body posture and movement by muscle contraction, stretching, bending, straightening, pulling, and compression.
  • Vestibular Sense: is the ability to interpret information relating to movement and balance. The vestibular system uses specialized channels in the inner ear to transmit information on movement, change of direction, change of position of the head, and gravitational pull.

Most human critical periods exist within the early years postnatal, which is why sensory play is especially important for young children​.

A critical period is a phase in which brain cell connections are more plastic and receptive to the influence of a certain type of life experience. These connections, called synapses, can be formed or strengthened more easily during this period.

A recent study has linked the lack of sensory play and negative home environments, especially during children’s first three years with several developmental problems, including:

  • Poorer language development by age three.
  • Later behavior issues.
  • Deficits in school readiness.
  • Anxiety, Aggression, and depression.
  • Impaired cognitive development at age three.

The Importance of Sensory Play

Building Nerve Connections

Research indicates that sensory play builds nerve connections (synapses) in the brain pathways that contribute to a child’s ability to perform more complex learning tasks.

Cognitive Development

Children first learn to understand new things through their senses. Every time they encounter something that is sticky, cold, or wet, for example, they gain a better understanding of which types of objects have these characteristics. Your child will then begin to make connections between things that have similar properties.

Strengthening Fine Motor Skills

Sensory play often involves touching, pouring, pinching, sorting, and moving actions. Toddlers primarily use their hands to explore, building on their fine motor skills, which will later be used for writing, zipping jackets, buttoning clothes, and tying shoes.

Enhancing Language Skills

By exploring new smells, tastes, and textures through sensory play, children can learn new ways to describe things found in the world around them. For example, a rock will be more than a rock when they feel it – it’s either smooth or rough or cool to the touch.  Also, your kids begin to describe food as sweet, salty, spicy, or crunchy.

Sensory Play Is Calming

You may have noticed that your kid is calmer after bath time or after a particularly rough session of jumping around the room, crashing onto his bed, banging into furniture, or pillows. This type of sensory activity calms children as it helps them manage their internal discomfort, whether it is boredom or restlessness.

 Early taste experiences 

 Early life nutrition is an important factor affecting later health. Your child’s food habits are shaped in infancy and are tracked back to adolescence and beyond, meaning that supportive eating activities are important to prevent eating disorders later in life.

Italian researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Milan have shown that early repeated experiences with different tastes and supportive feeding increase the children’s desire to try new foods and greatly decrease the risk of having a picky-eater kid in a healthy social environment. In other words, you, as a parent, can modify the innate food preferences of your child! 

By paying attention to these things, your baby will gain a lot of benefits and get exposed to various wonderful activities that will really help him develop properly! 

Until Next blog,

Hiral

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References:

 Blair C, Granger DA, Willoughby M, et al. Salivary cortisol mediates effects of poverty and parenting on executive functions in early childhood. Child Development. 2011; 82(6):1970-8.

Son S, Morrison F. The nature and impact of changes in home learning environment on development of language and academic skills in preschool children. Developmental Psychology. 2010; 46(5):1103–1118.

De Cosmi V, Scaglioni S, Agostoni C. Early Taste Experiences and Later Food Choices. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):107. Published 2017 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/nu9020107

Howard-Jones P, Taylor J, Sutton L. The Effect of Play on the Creativity of Young Children During Subsequent Activity. Early Child Development and Care. August 2002:323-328. doi:10.1080/03004430212722

Rosenzweig MR, Bennett EL. Psychobiology of plasticity: effects of training and experience on brain and behavior. Behavioural Brain Research. June 1996:57-65. doi:10.1016/0166-4328(95)00216-2

10 Toddler Gross Motor Activities and Why Obstacle Courses are the Best!

Developing gross motor skills is an essential foundation that all children need!

Gross motor skills are any movements that engage the large muscles in your body. They are the significant movements that kids begin to use regularly. We often hear a lot about fine motor skills and their importance in learning and academia. However, without strong gross motor skills, a child’s fine motor development could suffer greatly. Gross motor skills include rolling, walking, running, jumping, climbing, hopping, skipping, bending, kicking, throwing, catching, balancing, and more. 

Think about not being able to control your arm or shoulder actively and how hard it would make it to hone your fine motor skills to write a word or letter. Gross motor skills provide foundational skills for learning and developing. Kids use gross motor skills to eat, play, dress themselves, or even sit in a chair to participate in school-based activities. Needless to say, gross motor skills are grossly important (pun intended!)  

Here are ten gross motor activities for children ages 1-3 and why obstacle courses are the best gross motor activity of them all! 

(Above picture: A child doing Obstacle course activity using OT park worksheets in her Backyard.)

  1. Cleaning up

Cleaning up requires walking, reaching, bending, and squatting. All of these movements are great gross motor practice. 

  1. Catch and toss

Catch and toss is such a simple and classic game. Get the whole family involved and allow the kids to run and retrieve the ball for optimal skill building! 

  1. Water play/swimming

This activity requires adult assistance and supervision at all times to prevent drowning. However, water play is such an excellent gross motor activity and even allows your child to build strength safely by moving, playing, kicking, and splashing against the water’s resistance. 

  1. Jungle gyms

Most kids enjoy parks and outside play. Constant movement is created to run and climb, swing their legs back and forth, or even squat and bend to squeeze into tight and low spaces. The most fun part is they don’t even realize they are building foundational skills!

  1. Animal Walks

Pretend to be your child’s favorite animal, or allow them to show you how that animal moves (even if it’s wacky!) Pretend play with them and show them how to walk like a crab or hop like a frog! Have them mimic you and see which animal was their favorite!

  1. Pretend play

Layout various clothes or costumes that you have around the house, and let your child dress up and pretend to be a football player, a teacher, or even mommy or daddy! 

  1. Dancing

Put on your favorite tunes and dance it out! Dancing also builds endurance and relieves tension, stress, or anxiety.

  1. Hopscotch

The most important part of this game for kids ages 1-3 is hopping and jumping around! We aren’t looking for perfection. Allow your kid to hop and attempt to hold their balance while picking up the rock they threw. Hopscotch is such a great gross motor activity! Hop, hop, hop!

  1. Playing with bubbles

When toddlers play with bubbles, it encourages them to reach up high or squat down low. They jump and run after the bubbles to catch or pop them.

  1. Obstacle course 

Finally, we saved the best for last! Obstacle courses are such a fun and versatile way to engage your child’s gross motor skills. Obstacle courses can be made indoors or outdoors and can be super complex or straightforward. You can use household objects or purchase different items from the store! Whatever you choose, make it fun!

For example, let’s say you wanted to make a four-step obstacle course indoors. You and your child could:

  • Roll or catch a ball while sitting
  • Do crab walks
  • Dance for 3 minutes
  • Walk over four pillows that are lined up!

It’s just that simple! Get your kid’s body moving and allow them to explore! With this four-step obstacle course example, your kid just practiced reaching, sitting, standing, stomping, bending, twisting, squatting, balancing, jumping, and so much more! This is why I believe obstacle courses are the best gross motor activity!

They allow your child to build multiple gross motor skills simultaneously. There is no limit to how much your child can grow, learn, and develop.

All it takes is a little time and creativity!

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TOP 10 Sensory Activities for 2 years olds

Why Is Sensory Play Important for Children?

– Sensory is important for children because it allows them to be messy and enriches their awareness of their bodies and senses. Sensory activities can help kids focus on their experience in the present moment.

Here are 10 sensory activities for toddlers! 

1.) Slime

Kids love playing with slime, and it is so beneficial for them. It is an amazing, tactile sensory experience. Most parents aren’t fans of slime because of the mess it can make, but it’s a great sensory tool for children. Manipulating slime and measuring ingredients can strengthen fine motor skills, and experimenting with slime recipes helps kids learn about cause and effect.

Slime helps kids get in touch with almost all senses; they focus on how it feels, sounds, looks, and smells.

Benefits are:

  • Promotes mindfulness
  • Helps children focus
  • Encourages them to play independently
  • Promotes fine motor skills
  • It is calming
  • It’s portable

2.) Ice Painting

This activity allows children the opportunity to explore color mixing, patterns and to feel the texture of the slippery, cold, wet paint. It will enable your child to be creative and use their imagination. As the paint melts, they will learn how when colors mix, they make a new color.

Benefits are:

  • It helps develop fine motor skills
  • It helps develop gross motor skills & control
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Learn colors

3.) Play Dough

Playdough provides a great sensory medium, and the possibilities are limitless and will evoke your child’s imagination. The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration. Playdough can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked, and shredded.

Benefits are:

  • Develops Fine Motor Skills

  • Calming

  • Encourages creativity

  • Enhances Hand-eye coordination

  • Improves social skills

  • Supports literacy and numeracy

  • Promotes playtime

 

4.) Oobleck

Oobleck is a fascinating way to engage in sensory play and understand science. It is great because it is inexpensive, quick, easy, taste-safe, and so much FUN! All it takes is cornstarch and water, and it is environmentally friendly.

– Your child can drive cars through it, play with it in your hands, mix colors, dribble and paint with goop on the sidewalk or driveway, or make sudsy goop.

Benefits are:

  • Supports language development
  • Builds gross motor skills
  • Builds fine motor skills
  • Learn science concepts
  • Strengthen hand muscles

5.) Sensory Toy

A sensory toy is specially designed to stimulate one or more senses. They may also help and be appealing to children on the spectrum because they can help them remain calm and provide the sensory experience they want. Much of what young children learn is through touch and stimulation of the senses.

– Types of sensory toys are rattles, crinkly books, teething beads, toys with mirrors, sensory shapes, and activity walkers.

Benefits are:

  • Cognitive stimulation
  • Language development
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Social interaction
  • Calming and comforting
  • Develop a sense of awareness

6.) Finding Small Items Hidden in the Kinetic Sand 

Playdough is fantastic for encouraging imaginative play. Children love to play hide and seek and love playdough, so why not combine the two. Hidden treasure playdough is a fun way to present small toys that children can use in their imaginative playdough play.

Benefits are: 

  • Develops fine motor skills
  • Calming
  • Encourages creativity
  • Enhances hand-eye coordination
  • Improves social skills
  • Supports literacy and numeracy
  • Promotes playtime

7.) Noodle Play

Kids are designed to explore the world through their senses, and exploring sensory materials helps kids’ emotional development. This sensory activity allows children to be creative. Different noodles provide texture-related tactile sense development. Kids will love the feel of playing with noodles.

Benefits are:

  • Language development
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Cognitive function
  • Fine motor development
  • Develop creativity

8.) Color Papers Hidden in Rice

Children learn best through hands-on experiences. It can be very calming to run your hands through a textured material like rice, and it is a wonderful invitation to play and create imaginary worlds.

– Fun sensory bins with rice are rainbow sensory bin, alphabet search, and watermelon rice sensory bin.

Benefits are:

  • Develop Pincer grip
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Calming
  • Fine motor strength
  • Learn colors
  • Language skills

9.) Stamping

Creating art expands a child’s ability to interact with the world around them and provides a new set of skills for self-expression and communication. They will love creating aesthetically pleasing works and experiences.

Benefits are:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Strengthening hand muscles
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Coordination
  • Explore colors

10.) Water Beads

Water beads are soft, squishy, and smooth to touch. Children will love the feel of the water beads and will love scooping them with their hands. They are soothing to touch and look at. You can even add these to your child’s bath. Children will also love watching the water beads grow bigger.

Benefits are:

  • Fine motor skills
  • Coordination
  • Exploration
  • Learn colors
  • Promotes creativity
  • Teaches science
  • Hand-eye coordination

Unitl next Blog!

Hiral

Do you have questions such as..

  1. What activities are best for my 10 months old? or
  2. From when should I start my child’s potty training? or
  3. How to develop correct posture for handwriting and get my child ready for School? 

Anything regarding 0-8 years, you can have a Free-consult with our CEO and Award winning pediatric Occupational Therapist – Dr. Hiral Khatri. 

Do you love these ideas/activities of our blog and want more of them? You can have a box with age-appropriate activities that are developmentally correct and pediatric designed, shipped right to your door!

Click the link below to get your box now!

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Why Kids Use “Non-Words” And Tantrums? How To Teach Them To Use Their Emotions With Words?

We have all seen it, and most of us have experienced our children throwing tantrums and acting out! So why do children throw tantrums instead of just using their words?

Temper tantrums range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath-holding. They are equally common in boys and girls and usually happen between the ages of 1-3. Every child is different, some have tantrums often, and some hardly ever have tantrums but just know that tantrums are a normal part of child development.

 Tantrums are how young children show that they are upset or frustrated.

Reasons Why A Child May Be Throwing A Tantrum:

  • The child may be tired, hungry, or uncomfortable.
  • They can’t get something that they want, like a toy.
  • They get frustrated because an adult can’t understand what they want.
  • The child wants to do it themselves but realizes they can’t.
  • The child gets told ‘no.’

 Toddlers can’t yet say what they want, feel, or need; a frustrating experience may cause a tantrum. Learning to deal with frustration is a skill that children gain over time.

Believe it or not, tantrums are an essential part of our child’s emotional health and well-being.

10 Important Reasons Why Your Child’s Tantrum Is Actually A Good Thing: 

  • Better out than in When we cry, we are literally releasing stress from our bodies.
  • Crying may help your child learnafter they calm down again, they have cleared their mind after expressing their frustration and can learn something new.
  • Your child may sleep betterStress can cause a child not to be able to fall asleep and wake up from sleep. Crying and releasing that stress will allow your child to relax.
  • Saying ‘No’ is a good thingSaying no to your child sets boundaries, and they need those.
  • Your child will feel safe telling you how he feelsmost times; the tantrum is not because you said no; it’s them showing you how they feel about it.
  • Tantrums bring you closer togetherAfter the tantrum, hug them, show them they are loved.
  • Tantrums will help your child’s behavior in the long runHaving a tantrum helps your child release the feelings that can get in the way of his natural, cooperative self.
  • If the tantrum happens at home, it’s less likely to occur in publicwhen children are allowed to express their emotion fully, they will often choose to have their upsets at home.
  • Your child is doing something most of us have forgotten how to doThey cry to release their stress and anger, and as adults, we tend to avoid crying to ‘fit into’ society.
  • Tantrums are healing for you, tooStaying calm takes practice, but when we manage it, we are literally rewiring our brains to become calmer, more peaceful parents.

What Should You Do During A Tantrum?

 The most important thing to do during your child’s tantrum is to stay calm; if you get upset and angry, it will only make the situation worse. Everyone’s child needs different reactions, so know your child and what they need from you.

Sometimes it is best to ignore the tantrum! If you ignore it, they realize that they will not get your attention when they throw a fit.

After a tantrum, the most important thing is to praise your child for calming down and hug your child, reassure them that they are loved, no matter what.

 Helping Your Child Learn How to Express Their Feelings 

Young children have a hard time identifying how they are feeling and how to express those feelings appropriately. The first step is to help your child identify their own emotions and why they feel that way.

Here are 10 ways to help your child express their feelings:

 

  • Use Words or IllustrationsExplain the feeling to your child by using easy words they can understand. Using picture books is a great way to illustrate feelings.
  • Teach Your Child Sign LanguageThis gives them tools to express their wants and needs.
  • Help Them Find A SolutionTeach your child different ways to deal with feelings and allow them to come up with solutions.
  • Encourage with PraiseWhen you see your child positively expressing their feelings, always praise them.
  • PracticePractice strategies for expressing emotions by talking about feelings during daily life.
  • Name the FeelingHelp your child give their feelings labels.
  • Identify Feelings in Themselves and OtherDescribe emotions they see around them.
  • Accept Your Child’s Feelingsthey will feel like you understand them, and that will help them cooperate with you and make them feel better.
  • Listen to Your Child’s FeelingsThey need to feel like you care.
  • Talk About Others FeelingsWhen your child is upset about something that involved another child, talk about your child’s feelings, but also discuss how the other child may be feeling.

 

Children just want to feel loved and understood. Remember, when your child isn’t calm, your NUMBER #1 JOB IS TO STAY CALM!

 Do you love these ideas/activities and want more of them? You can have a box with age-appropriate activities that are developmentally correct and pediatric designed, shipped right to your door! Click the link below to get your box now!

 

 

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Easter Eggs Activities and its developmental Importance for kids

Easter holds so many great activities for our children. What kid doesn’t love an Easter egg hunt? An Easter egg hunt is not just fun but a whole learning process. First, there’s finding the eggs, which works on your child’s gross motor and cognitive skills. Then decision making, planning, visual skills, and Picking the eggs up and putting them in the basket, which works on the child’s fine motor skills and coordination.

Here are some fun activities to do at Easter:

Color Scavenger Hunt

  • Use plastic-colored Easter eggs to encourage gross motor skills, visual perception, and learning colors. They will also be building cognitive skills and visual scanning.
  • You can assign a color to each child, and those are the eggs that they need to find.
  • You can use clues or a scavenger hunt for the older children.
  • The reward is they get to keep what is inside each of the eggs that they find.
    • Some tips for a successful Easter egg hunt for small children are:
      • Find a suitable space for the hunt, a small safe place.
      • Make sure to have baskets for each child.
      • Keep it simple.
      • Make sure all the children know the rules.
      • Keep things fair.

Easter egg hunts and/or scavenger hunts encourage physical activity. You can even involve math and have your little one practice counting all of the eggs they found. You can even put different sensory objects in some of the eggs for them to explore. Easter stickers are also a great item to put in the eggs.

 

Eggs and Bunny Art

  • This activity will be painting or coloring the eggs.
  • Have your child use markers, crayons, or paint to color the eggs for Easter.
  • Let them be creative and use their imagination. There is no right or wrong way.

Art promotes creativity, and that is extremely important for a child’s development. Holding the marker, crayon, or brush works on their fine motor skills. Art also helps children gain confidence and perseverance. Painting and coloring help develop visual-spatial skills. It will also help develop working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control.

Feed the Bunny

  • Use a box that is closed up and cut out a mouth for the bunny.
  • Give your child pom poms and have them feed the bunny through the mouth either with their hands or tweezers.

This activity will work a child’s pincer grasp when picking up the pompoms with their fingers or the tweezers. The ability to isolate the pointer finger and use a pincer grasp during fine motor play are important skills to prepare kids for a good pencil grasp.

This activity can also work on your child’s ability to cross the midline. Have them reach over to the left side to get the pompoms and then back to the right to feed the bunny. This is an important prerequisite to efficient reading, writing skills, and overall motor coordination.

Easter Activities to Involve the Entire Family

– Egg and Spoon Race – This is an old-fashioned outdoor game where you each have a spoon with an egg resting on it. You all race to a certain spot and see who can make it there first without dropping their egg.

– Read Easter books together as a family. Reading is so good for children and helps them with bonding, listening skills, cognitive and language development, expanded vocabulary, attention span, creativity, and social and emotional development.

– Easter symbolizes rebirth, so plant some flowers, plants, or trees together. Children love to help, and you can teach them about the planting process, feeding and nurturing what you plant, and how it grows.

– You can decorate a tree with Easter eggs for Spring.

– You can teach your child about the importance of giving. Have them help make, decorate, and fill an Easter basket. Then bring it to a neighbor, friend, or family member.

– Make the Easter meal together as a family. Let the children help because they love to feel like they accomplished something and helped mom and dad.

– If the weather permits, be outside! Everyone benefits from getting some sunshine and breathing in the fresh air. It is also very beneficial for children to explore the outdoors and nature.

Holidays bring families together, and family time is incredibly important for raising a healthy and secure child. Children learn from what they see, so show them what it means to be there for each other and truly with each other. It is a time when your children learn how to deal with all kinds of life situations, and they learn invaluable lessons.

 

So, don’t forget to stock up on some plastic Easter eggs, candy, small gifts/toys, and anything else you might need for Easter. Most of all just have fun!!

 

Do you love these ideas/activities and want more of them? You can have a box with age appropriate activities, that are developmentally correct and pediatric designed, shipped right to your door! Click the link below to get your box now!

Baby Sign Language

You might hate seeing your baby wailing, and you have no idea why. Is he hungry? Tired? Too hot? You could just wait until your baby learns to speak, but the reality is that you could be waiting for a word or two from seven months to a year. The good news? There’s a considerable way to start communicating with your baby at an earlier age(6months). It’s called baby sign language, and it could provide the tools you’ve been looking for to avoid frustration and keep a parent-baby bonding strong.

Why is baby sign language important?

It’s Fun!

There are many reasons for introducing your baby to baby signing. From the moment you see your baby repeat their first sign, you’ll be impressed and happy. Babies love signing because it gives them a meaning to connect with you more often and convey many different feelings. The best part is that there are a hundred daily chances to teach signs!

Making Words Visual 

Unlike a spoken word, a sign can be held static for a baby to imitate. Signs give meaning to words that would otherwise be too abstract for your baby to comprehend until they were much older. For example, the word wind does not refer to something your baby can see, but using an iconic gesture makes the subject instantly understood.

More Independent

Studies show that your baby feels confident in his ability to tell you what he wants, when he wants it, it gives him a greater sense of independence. Because he has a greater understanding of his environment, and because he has another of learning, associating, and understanding, he will feel freer to explore. You are providing a “scaffolding” for your baby’s learning experiences, whereby your baby makes new discoveries knowing you there for support and encouragement. If he needs help along the way, he easily able to ask for it.

Building knowledge

Your baby is able to take charge of his own education by indicating to you with a simple gesture just what it is he would like to know more about. He will also become very skillful at extracting further information from you! Baby sign language is a useful tool for assisting your baby in his development of concepts. Babies learn to form thoughts by their experiences and are continually refining their ideas and understanding. Infants start with “the big picture” and work from there. For example, when a baby first encounters a creature with four legs, tail, and fur, and is told it is a cat, suddenly every animal that loosely resembles a cat falls into the same category. This is because cat is the only word they may have learned to date to identify an animal.

Research has shown that child sign language may give a typically developing child a way to communicate months earlier, achieve better speech recognition skills over the first 3 years than those who only depend on vocal communication. This may help ease frustration between the ages of 6 months and 2 years — when children begin to know what they need, want, and feel, but don’t necessarily have the verbal skills to express themselves. Children who have developmental delays may also benefit from this. 

Keep in mind that it’s important to continue talking to your child as you teach baby sign language. Spoken communication is an essential part of your child’s speech development.

References:

Geers AE, Mitchell CM, Warner-Czyz A, Wang NY, Eisenberg LS; CDaCI Investigative Team. Early Sign Language Exposure and Cochlear Implantation Benefits. Pediatrics. 2017;140(1):e20163489. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-3489

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28759398/

MacDonald K, LaMarr T, Corina D, Marchman VA, Fernald A. Real-time lexical comprehension in young children learning American Sign Language. Dev Sci. 2018;21(6):e12672. doi:10.1111/desc.12672

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6191391/

Goodwyn SW. (2000). Impact of symbolic gesturing on early language development.
link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1006653828895

Hoecker JL. (2016). Is baby sign language worthwhile?
mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-sign-language/faq-20057980

Importance of Sensory System & Ideas about tactile activities for infants and toddlers

TThe sensory system is an integral part of the human body. We touch, smell, hear, balance and much more to regulate ourselves into the world. Yes, I repeat sensory systems help us to “Regulate” ourselves into the world.

Need more explanation? Let me give you a few simple but important examples of our own lives:

  • I cannot stand on my feet steady for more than 60 seconds with eyes closed. I do need my eyes to see my surroundings and so I open my eye or I touch the nearby wall. That is Vision sense.
  • I cannot tolerate vacuum cleaner noise or I have to keep my hands on my ears when a train is passing a few meters away. That is – Auditory sense.
  • I cannot hold ice cube for more than 10 seconds in the palm of my hands. So I throw it on the floor or just eat that! (lol) That is Tactile (touch) sense.
  • I like to go to the gym to workout another wise I cannot get good night sleep. That is – Proprioceptive sense.

And if we adults feel these sensory issues- have you thought about kids? Yeah? From my long experience in the field of Pediatric Occupational Therapy and being a mom I may suggest that Kids’ sensory systems are crucial and developing during the early years. They struggle with the understanding of all these differences and they are learning through experiences but as they do not have “all” experience and solutions to problems- they start throwing Tantrums. We call it tantrums but they are telling us to move away from that noxious stimuli and when we don’t understand their language – they start crying, hitting, screaming, and much more that comes under the category of a tantrum.

Some kids feel uncomfortable as soon as their parents take them to a restaurant and then, they suddenly start crying. As soon as an adult takes them out of the restaurant door, the kid is calm. There can be various reasons for that. For example, the child may be over stimulative to smell sense – as we all know restaurants do not cook only one dish but many and every platter has a different smell. We are ‘used to’ these mixed smells but not tiny noses. If they can manage that somehow, the other uncomfortable stimuli can be lights and sounds in restaurants. Some restaurants have a variety of ceiling lights or blinkers and much more to attract customers but tiny eyes are just not used to those visual entries. Same for music or people talking loudly in restaurants and that may disturb a child’s auditory system.

So only one change of environment (home to a restaurant) may cause a variety of sensory experiences for a child. It is good to explore with your child and that is how they get experience but it is similarly important to be ready for some unknown tantrum and handle with the extra calm response as we know, they are going through a LOT. Just calm the child and then slowly introduce them to a novice environment is always a better option.

There are a variety of sensory activities that kids love and feel regulated while doing so. Some just love water and the other just loves sand. Every kid is different and so as their preferences. and that is okay!! We do have choices. correct?

I am sharing some fun sensory activity ideas to help a toddler regulate in a home environment and they are good to keep a child busy and improve his/her attention from 1 to 10 minutes. Each activity mainly focuses on different aspects of Tactile (touch) sense, Vision, Auditory, Proprioceptive, and balance mechanisms.

  • Cutting Noodles
  • Ball Pit for Tummy timers
  • Blue Water Wash
  • Wood-chips Exploration
  • Bean-Box fun
  • Rice Bin 
  • Hand painting for all 
  • Sensory bag
  • Texture Games for infants
  • Home made edible snow
  • Sand Box
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1. Cutting Noodles

Noodles are long. Noodles are sticky. And then you add colors to those noodles! Wow. That will create a perfect combination of practicing sensory, fine motor, visual motor, and attention skills. My daughter chose to cut those noodles with her recently learned cutting-skills. And that was a great fun-time in our backyard. I also hid some small animal toys into noodles to add a surprise element.

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2. Ball Pit fun for Tummy Timers

Tummy time is an integral need during the early months. How about making it fun? Provide tummy time in a ball pit. These sensory balls provide infants a variety of stimulations on the whole body and colors provide great engagement into the task.

3. Blue Water Wash

Ocean! who doesn’t like it? I made this ocean with blue food color and water and added a big of bath soap to it. She chose to give shower her animals into this amazing ocean.

Children begin by loving their parents, as they grow older, sometimes they forgive them

– Paul Tournier
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4. Wood chips exploration

Outdoor exploration in the surroundings. Woodchips and sand together are nice to explore. Sometimes it has safety concerns lined up with that about getting splinters though kids somehow love to touch wood chips. Keep an eye while doing this activity for safety purposes but outdoor exploration is just another fun to develop sensory regulation among kids

5. Bean Box Fun

Bean box is a great tool for sensory play. All we have to do is pour different beans available in the home-pantry into a box, add their favorite toys (small Disney toys, tiny dinosaurs, small cars or animals) and ask them to find them!

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6. Rice bin

Rice grains are great textures just as beans. Coloring rice grains with food color makes it attractive to play and provides sand like texture.

OTPark Box photo

7. Hand Painting for all

Hand-painting is favorite among toddlers. They just love seeing their hands painted with different colors and making impressions on papers or different surfaces brings the joy of doing something great by themselves. I used safe washable paints and provided some papers and let her explore the lines of her hands by imprinting by herself.

OTPark Activity

8. Sensory Bag

Sensory bags are nice to develop a variety of acting skills. This one particularly is made up of hair gel+blue food color inside a ziplock bag. I added some glitters to make it more attractive. We used it to develop pre-writing skills, scribbles, drawing different shapes, and much more. We used feet and hands both to explore this sensory bag. The cherry on the top: My daughter spent 15 straight minutes while playing with this sensory bag! (yes only moms know how bing that jackpot time is! )

9. Texture games for infants

Textures important. Infants explore everything through touch and oral exploration. They start sensing about the size, shape, and other materialistic properties through “touch”. I cut dishwashing sponge into straight lines and made it available for her so she can grasp (cylindrical grasp) and feel.

10. Home made edible snow

Snow is fun for all but we don’t get snow all the time. How about making one? I made this snow from corn starch to all-purpose flour and added food color (yellow) and very very little water. Boom! it’s ready. I hid tiny straws inside to help my daughter develop a pinch grip and visual-motor exploration. (I did this edible and safe texture play with her when she was 7 months old.)

11. Sand Box

Sandboxes or sand tables are fun parts of sensory play. They help to develop imagination skill when a child starts making castles, or any other construction from their amazing imagination. Live your Dreams is what this activity is all about. Sand is a great texture to develop tactile regulation. Sand gets cold in cold temperatures (during the mornings and late afternoons) and it gets warmer during the afternoons when the Sun is up high in the sky. So this activity not just provides touch sense but also temperature sense too and its fun playing around different temperatures.

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So! Are you ready to start your Sensory Fun? I hope you will have lots of fun and learn. Cio!