Sensory - When You're Stuck At Home
When I decided to write a blog about sensory ideas in the home to help motivate and support families during the current situation I sat down and started to write, I wrote about 10 different sentences and kept starting and again and again. This is such an intense situation, how am I meant to address something when it feels so big and overwhelming? So here I do not really know how to start this blog, I cannot begin to believe the emotional and financial stress so many families are under during the extreme situation of Covid-19. When we bring our children into this world we don’t want to feel scared, we want to protect them and do everything we can to give them the best world we possibly can. But when we are faced with these isolating situations many mothers probably feel more alone and out of control than we ever imagined.
Being a mum can be isolating enough. I don’t want to write a blog about how scared I feel and how it feels like we are living in a real-life sci-fi film, instead I want to empower and motivate mums to get creative in their homes. Here at Possums we really emphasise the importance of sensory nourishment, our children are hungry for a rich sensory environment, which means our ‘normal’ days which usually full with social events, activities, park visits, coffee dates, mums and bubs exercise classes and visiting friends/family is replaced with a quieter, less interactive and isolating day. Right now our number one priority is to protect our family, our community and ourselves. So as an IBCLC working in the community and someone working toward NDC accreditation, I wanted to put together a list of ‘sensory ideas in the home’. This isn’t just about meeting your baby’s sensory needs; it’s also about connecting with yourself and your baby during this challenging time.
The Importance of Sensory Nourishment
Meeting our baby's sensory needs is so incredibly important we often put so much emphasis on sleep and feeding from such an early age. Your baby’s sensory requirements are constantly changing, evolving and demanding more and more from us as parents. If we aren’t meeting our baby's sensory needs they can become unsettled, fussy and ‘dialled up’, isolation and a ‘dialled up’ baby isn’t a great recipe for families. A dialled up baby usually results in a dialled up mum, so we really aim to avoid these situations to keep a calm, happy family unit. For those unfamiliar with the term dialled up, we use this phrase to refer to a baby who is becoming fussy, difficult to settle. Babies often get bored of the same environment that can display unsettled behaviours and sympathetic nervous system activation.
Sensory Ideas for Babies at Home
As a mother myself I find the isolation a real challenge, our weeks are usually busy and active with an energetic toddler. I know creativity doesn’t come naturally some days and it’s a real struggle to think of new exciting sensory challenges for our children, so I have come up with a list of things you could do at home with your baby to help meet their sensory needs. Some of these are age and developmentally appropriate, so pick out what is applicable for you and your baby, try to enjoy this bonding time with your baby.
The list is as follows:
-play music that you enjoy listening to, put your baby on your hip and have a little dance or dance in front of them
- Lie/sit under a tree in your back yard or nearby park
-let your baby play with the leaves off the tree, exploring all the colours and textures
-Take your baby out on the balcony if you live in an apartment, look at the birds, trees, plants on the balcony.
-Make your own sensory basket with different textures, shapes e.g. necklaces, TV remote, balls, keys, kitchen utensils, shakers, container lids, empty ice trays
-Make edible paint or play dough
-Put together different fabric scrapes, fabrics can have different textures for your baby to explore
-Make bath time a little longer, put bubbles in the bath or bath bombs
-Have a bath with your baby, fulling bath time with lots of cuddles and skin to skin
-If your baby is eating solids make mealtime a little longer, explore with different textures
-Talk to your baby, engage, sing, laugh with your baby
-Tummy time, you can even place a mirror in front of them so they can see themselves
-Baby massage: this can be simple techniques, you don’t have to do a course to be able to explore with a gentle massage with your baby
-Create your own messy play with jelly, rice, yoghurt, oats (age-appropriate items)
-place pasta in containers for baby to shake
-Put together a bottom draw/cupboard your baby can reach full of containers, safe cooking utensils for baby to pull in and out of the draw/cupboard
-Place paint in a zip lock bag for your baby to squish around
-Pull out the pot for your baby to play with, cooking utensils for them to bang on the pot, infants love making lots of noise
-Make your own contrast images
-Sit with your baby in front of the mirror, sing and talk to them
-Make your own busy board appropriate for your baby’s age
-Place glitter and water inside a bottle so your baby can see the glitter moving around
-Facetime/skype family and friends
-Do online yoga, pilates or ‘at home’ workout with baby. There are many available on YouTube.
-Dye some rice or pasta and place it in a large flat container, sit you baby in the container or beside it so he/she can play, move their feet around explore the different colours and textures.
-Play peek a boo with your baby (I’m sure you will get lots of giggles)
Several websites provide recipes and directions for the above activities.
Our world is going to become more interactive through technology; we will be forced out of our comfort zones in many ways. Embrace these changes as much as you can, if you usually meet other mothers for coffee, video call them instead so your children can see each other through your screen and you can also have the opportunity to connect with your friends. Some days will be tougher than others, but it is so important we meet our baby’s sensory needs to optimise developmental outcomes and make the days feel a little less long, this will pass but for now, we need to support our families and connect with ourselves and loved ones in more creative, diverse ways.
Jessie Morrell - RN (GradCertNIC) IBCLC
Neuroprotective Developmental Care (NDC) Participant
Mylk Made Lactation