During your little one’s first year, her development will be very notorious. You’ll see her go from a wobbly head, to keeping complete postural control or even taking her first steps!
Motor skills can be easy to distinguish but noticing how she perceives the world around her can be a little bit trickier. The way she relates to stimuli around her, her reactions and abilities depend on her developing senses, this is called “perceptual development”.
Think about the moment when your baby turns her head towards you or reaches her arms out. You are not only witnessing her motor development, but also how she uses her senses to connect with you. She turns around because she hears you or reaches her arms out because she sees you. She even uses the sense of touch to connect with you; you might notice this when you are feeding her, and she caresses your cheek.
In order for her motor skills to develop, she must notice something in her surroundings that encourages her to act and interact with the world. This is why it is important to foster her perceptual development. By encouraging your baby’s perceptual skills, you enable her to move more effectively, react to the environment, and plan her moves.
There are many things you can do to support perceptual development in your baby. When you work on these, you help her move with more intention, while also laying a foundation for future cognitive skills. Let us give you some tips!
- Auditory perception: Read stories to your little one from the moment she comes into the world. Describe the pictures, read the words, or even make up a story yourself. This will help her develop her auditory perception, while also fostering her linguistic development. Talking to her or playing different kinds of music can also contribute to the development of the sense of hearing. While you do any of these activities, observe her reactions. It might help you to distinguish what she likes best, giving you clues on her perception of the world.
- Visual perception: To help her improve her sight, engage her in activities that sharpen her understanding of what she sees. Lay her down on the floor, place some colorful patterned toys in front of her and let her choose from the different objects. Paint her bedroom walls with different colors and hang around some colorful dangling toys. You can also move toys in front of her, so she can follow them with her eyes.
- Oral perception: Once your pediatrician has approved them, let your baby taste different kinds of foods. For example, give her something sweet to eat, watch her reaction when she tastes it, and continue with different flavors. You will be working on the sense of taste, while also satisfying her curiosity to try new things.
- Olfactory perception: It is possible that she may not sniff in yet, but you can pass the object under her nose and then take it away to see how she responds. You can use flowers, a lemon, or even something stinky! Your baby is exposed to different scents all the time, so help her to identify and perceive them.
- Tactile perception: Give your baby objects with different textures, fabrics with different patterns, or even place her on top of different kinds of surfaces to stimulate her sense of touch. Explore our catalog to find some cool activities to foster this!
Remember that her development doesn’t unfold in a smooth and upward progression. Your baby might take different paths to accomplish a new milestone in her own unique way. When you foster her senses, you are contributing to her acquisition of other motor skills that will impact her future school performance. Stimulate her sensory perception all through simple games!
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Whole Child Parenting by The Whole Child Parenting Program was consulted.