When babies are first born they are not aware of their body parts. It is our job to teach them they have a face, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and the cutest teeny tiny little toes! The best way to learn for any age is to use your 5 senses – touch, hearing, tasting, seeing, and smelling. Here are some ways you can encourage body awareness…
Infant Massage – The earlier you start massaging your babies body the earlier they will gain a sense of awareness in terms of their body parts. It also aids in circulation, digestion, and relaxation! We stick to a specific time of day to give Baby Roman a massage – right after his bath. We either use Nature’s Way Organic Coconut Oil or diluted NOW Foods Lavender Oil (you can mix in a couple drops with some olive oil). As we take him out of his bath, we tell him “It’s massage time!”. While massaging him we sing soothing songs. We keep it consistent so that he can begin to anticipate the words. We also talk about each body part as we massage. Bath-time has become one of our most favorite parts of the day since it really calms him down and puts him in the best mood! The key is to do it when they are happy. We like to start with some light bouncing, go on to the legs, then to the feet, then to the belly, followed by his arms, and end with his face. We massage his arms and legs outward first and then inward to bring help with circulation. Massing their adorable bellies and the balls of their feet helps with digestion. At the very end, caress your baby’s whole body from their head to their toes using the palms of your hand so they start to build that whole body awareness and tell them “Massage is finished!”. Video to come to go over specific techniques that we learned from the infant massage specialist.
Finding Hands & Feet – In order to promote body awareness it is great to take your baby’s hands and rub them across their mouth. Since they are super flexible at this age, you can also bring their toes to their nose! Feel free to play “This Little Piggy” with their toes and even count their fingers by grabbing the tips of their fingers. This allows them to get a sense of where their body ends and also shows them how to unclench their fists. They are soon going to start studying their hands more as if they found a treasure! It is the cutest thing on the planet! Once they realize they have hands they will begin to put them in their mouth to suck on them in order to sooth themselves. It is the beginnings of hand-eye coordination coming to life! We began using the Lamaze Garden Bug Wrist Rattle & Foot Finder Set early on, which helps babies discover their hands and feet more easily. As they kick their feet and reach with their arms, the rattle makes noise which promotes auditory awareness as well!
Sense of Touch – Have your baby lie on their belly without their onesie or shirt. Gather items with a variety of textures (eg – bumpy, soft, fluffy, etc.). We love using feathers, scarves, faux fur pillows, stuffed animals, finger puppets, fabric such as silk, felt pieces, brushes, etc.
Sassy Ring O’Links are great for targeting “bumpy” and Melissa & Doug Children’s Plush Sports Balls to target “soft”. We have even crumpled up tissue paper and paper bags to introduce him to other textures. Move the objects across their tummy. You can make circles with the items, move it up and down or left to right, and even fast and slow. Talk about how it feels – “The feather feels SO soft right??”, “Let’s make it move FAST and now SLOWWWW”, etc. As the months go on, your child will even try to grab and mouth the objects (make sure they are safe). If they are grasping and holding already, let your babies touch the items with their hands. Whenever it is a novel item have them feel it before you engage in actual play with it. For example, if you go to your first music class and they’ve never seen a drum before, have them feel the vibration with their feet. Let them explore the world and stimulate their senses!