Impairment in any body part can turn into a disability without timely intervention. If a problem is detected, it is not a good idea to wait for it to get better. It may just worsen.
E.g. An issue /problem of the eye/s maybe set right through imminent paediatric surgery or later with special glasses in consultation with the concerned expert.
New born babies show rapid sensory development representing the sense of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. It is thus important to provide babies with sensory stimulation from time to time, in order to find out about their sensory functions.
Play way approach & home detection strategies
It is well known that children are most responsive to the play way strategies for sensory stimulation. Mothers can use a few home detection strategies when they are happily occupied with the baby.
1. Sense of touch.
In the early days after birth, your baby is near sighted and can look at your face from a distance of 8” to 12”. She is most comfortable with monochromatic colours like black and white.
- Prepare a round cardboard face as big as yours. Have a white background with big black eyes and smiling lips pasted on it, on both sides. Dangle it on a string. Gently move this face side to side from the right or left side of the child’s face about 8”to 12” away. Repeat from the other side.
If the baby follows the face with the eyes,it means her sight shows normal status
2. Sense of hearing.
Your baby has developed the sense of hearing, by the time she comes home from the hospital. You will notice at the end of the first month that she is able to turn her head from side to side on cue as her neck muscles develop rapidly.
- When your baby is in a good mood, either coo, sing, or talk to her in a high pitched voice as babies respond better to it.
- As an alternative sound, you can even snap your fingers.
- Around the end of first month, when your baby is placed briefly on her stomach, you may create the above sounds from both sides of the baby’s face, within hearing distance.
Your baby will respond by turning her head in the direction of the sound, if she has heard the sound from either side.
3. Sense of touch.
A baby has the sense of touch right from the beginning. You may want to test the skin of the different parts of her body.
- Prepare 1 1/2” layered squares from a variety of fabrics such as velvet, linen, cotton, wool and net, to represent a soft and a somewhat rough feel. In the beginning you may very gently rub her palm and foot with the soft cloth and slowly graduate to the net and other parts of the body. When she feels a tickle she may withdraw the hand or the foot or show her reaction on the face. For the somewhat rough material she may or may not show her dislike. When she reacts in any way to the feel of the cloth, things are all right.
4. Sense of taste and smell.
We may differ testing these two senses of the baby, keeping in mind her safety and hygiene.
After the baby has acquired better immunity to ingesting liquids and has developed selectiveness in her responses, we can start the relative testing.
However, around the first or second week after birth, look for her eagerness to suck on the breast or the bottle when it is taken away for some reason. Her taste buds seem to show a liking for the sweet tasting liquid.
Note: Babies are also known to turn away from a bad taste and bad smell.
A word of caution
Do remember that the play activities/strategies are just generic methods for gauging your baby’s responses to sensory stimulation . In case you identify any gross anomalies, it is best to consult a doctor without further ado and work towards helping the baby.