How to Stimulate Baby’s Sense of Touch
The first five years of baby’s life are critical to brain development. In this Baby Care Weekly series, we will discuss the ways we can boost baby’s brain development and learning functions. We’ve previously covered how to stimulate baby’s mind, now we’ll share some tips and activities for stimulating baby’s sense of touch.
How Baby Develops Sense of Touch
Baby’s sense of touch is constantly developing from the womb and it is the best developed sense when baby is born. The following are the most common developmental milestones related to baby’s sense of touch:
Baby’s skin is very sensitive which makes him receptive to touch and other physical sensations. At this point, skin to skin contact is very important for baby not just for learning but for bonding and communication. Baby will find the feel of you touching his skin comforting and soothing. Newborns will also respond to your touches with a grasping reflex. Notice when you stroke his palm with your finger, baby will curl his hand around it.
The parts of his body that are particularly sensitive include his cheeks, face, mouth, abdomen and soles. You’ll also notice how baby will use his mouth as another way of interacting with the world around him. Try touching baby’s cheek and he’ll most likely turn his head and use his mouth to explore the source of the sound.
At around 1 month, baby will keep his hands closed most of the time. If his hands are ever open, baby will most likely grasp at anything you put on his palm.
2 to 3 months
At 2 to 3 months old, baby will begin to respond to touching and even tickling. He will also begin to be more curious about objects around him and use his mouth to “study” things. His highly sensitive tongue, mouth and lips will help him get the feel of objects he touches.
Baby will be too young to pick up things on his own but at this point but he will enjoy having things put on his hand.
4 to 5 months
By 4 to 5 months, baby’s muscles will be stronger and he will be more active in reaching out to things or people around him. At 5 months he will also begin to hold and even pick up things with both hands and still use his mouth to explore.
Baby’s sense of touch at 6 months will have developed significantly. He will use both hands to reach and hold objects. He will also learn to appreciate interactive toys that he can touch and play with.
7 to 8 months
Baby’s spatial awareness will begin to develop at 7 to 8 months. This function will let him differentiate flat objects and 3-dimensional things. He will appreciate objects that are interactive or have parts that can be manipulated with his hands.
At this point, baby will also begin to exert effort to crawl and use his new mobility to find new things to discover and touch.
9 to 10 months
At 9 to 10 months baby’s mobility is more improved and he will enjoy looking for new things to hold and investigate. He will be picking up objects and placing them inside drawers or containers. He will also still use his mouth to check the things he picks up.
Because of baby’s relentless curiosity and eagerness to explore you need to make sure your home is child-proof and safe for baby.
11 months to 1 year
When baby reaches 1 year, he will have encountered most kinds of textures like hard, soft, cold, hot, wet, dry and sticky. At this point he will start to rely on his hands to touch and interact with the world around him.
5 Simple Ways to Stimulate Baby’s Sense of Touch
Here are some activities you can do with baby to stimulate his sense of touch. Many of these seem like ordinary gestures but they can actually help baby learn about the world around him.
1. Massage, touch and cuddle baby
Physical touches will not just comfort him, it facilitates bonding between you and let him intuitively learn the concept of personal space. Gently massage baby, put your finger on his palm and cuddle him.
2. Put child-safe objects in his hands
Between the ages of 2 to 3 months, baby will be too young to pick up things for himself so it will be up to you to introduce him to different objects by putting them on his hand. This simple exercise will also teach baby to intuitively learn his grasping reflexes.
3. Play in the bath
Bath time can be a great time for baby to learn about water and wetness. With his sensitive skin, baby will notice the unique sensation of water on his skin and may even splash around in the bath.
4. Play with objects with different textures
Develop baby’s spatial awareness by letting him play with objects with different textures and shapes. If you’re getting toys or books for baby, get the ones that incorporate unique textures and sounds. You can also encourage baby to hold and touch different fabrics and materials like cardboard, artificial fur and cloth.
5. Play with food
When you start introducing baby to solid food you are not just looking after his nutrition you are also teaching him about textures. Playing with food can get messy but it is a natural process that lets baby explore different textures with both his hands and mouth.
- Baby’s natural curiosity and newfound mobility can cause him to grab and explore the house so never leave baby alone.
- Make sure your home is child-proof and safe for your curious baby.
- Make sure the toys and objects you give baby do not have small movable parts as these could be a choking hazard.
There are many activities and tools that can facilitate learning for baby but no toy or book can ever replace the parent’s role in baby’s development. Treasure every moment you have because these count as learning opportunities not just for your bundle of joy but you as a parent.
Here’s a funny video of babies and kids discovering new things and being adorable: