Sense and Motor Combinations

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Trainees may now see ways in which rich sensory stimuli can be presented and used to strengthen motor skills. For instance, if a toddler is encourage to “catch” the bubbles that a caregiver sends through the room he will be able to coordinate looking and walking in such a way that he and a bubble arrive at the same place the same time. He may have to stretch an arm or open a hand to reach for a bubble a bit too far from where he stands.

Mobiles hung from walls and ceiling provide sources o sensory stimulation which can impel an inactive infant to stretch and reach (while held securely in his caregiver’s arms) for the brightly colored mobile hangings which swing in the air so freely at just a touch. A wind-up toy which consists of a gaily dressed monkey who dances around a circle and claps two small cymbals together may be fascinating enough so that a baby who can rarely e coaxed to practice creeping may, on his own, try to inch his way closer to the alluring toy.

Taking advantage of daily routines to provide sensory input.

Ask the trainees to tell you all the different kinds of sense experiences the following daily care situation can provide:

  1. Meal time
  2. Diapering
  3. Bathing
  4. Settling-to-sleep time
  5. Dressing with outer clothing (or undressing)
  6. Soothing a fretful infant

Make sure the trainees mention opportunities these routines provide for infants to see, listen, feel body parts or position shifts, smell, hear food noises, and feel temperature and pressure changes on skin. If the trainees have difficulty in imagining these situations, you may provide them with large rubber dolls, bath powder, tubs of warm water, and diaper changers, so that they can act out these caregiving routines. Ask them to vary their tempo and style of handling a doll. For example, while bathing a baby one can rub his back vigorously with a washcloth; one can squeeze water gently from the cloth onto the baby’s limbs as he watches; one can stroke the limbs slowly and lightly in washing; one can splash lots of water quickly all over his stomach and arms. Similarly, while soothing a cranky baby, once can walk up and down the room jiggling and jouncing an infant; one can lie him on his stomach and stroke his back in large circular arm movement; one can cuddle him and rock him while seated in a rocking chair; one can whirl him around in arms quickly, hoping that the sudden input of body (kinesthetic) stimulation will surprise him and distract him from crying. A caregiver in her daily routines also provides variety in food colors and textures. She gives an infant experiences with feelings of different weights and pressures in many ways. An everyday situation can be used to explore with the child, for example, the weight of shoes and outer clothing being put on and off. Different caregivers will show different styles and timing in their handling of babies. Some babies respond better to certain kinds of handling. Trainees ought to be aware that while their style may be just fine foe one baby, they may have to move a little slower or a little more vigorously in caring for another baby.

Ask Dr. Susan