My 11 month old (soon to be toddler), like most babies, loves to explore and is constantly getting himself into scrapes. He charges around the house inspecting every cupboard, commando crawling under the couch to swipe at the cat and climbing up to turn up the volume on our stereo. In search of his sensory fix, he has developed a few funny quirks that keep us laughing.
According to Lindsey Biel, occupational therapist and co-author of the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child, sensory play is key to cognitive development in toddlers. Lindsey Biel suggests that aside from the known five senses, there are two other senses necessary for development. Vestibular sense is the ability to feel in balance while moving, and proprioceptive sense is the awareness of spacial depth and the relationship between the body and the environment. Anyone who has seen me park or throw a ball will attest that my proprioceptive sense is underdeveloped.
Babies and toddlers are just learning to make sense of their senses. Pun totally intended. They are testing their boundaries and developing an understanding of how things work. Some of the behaviour can seem bizarre to adults, but it does have a purpose. Linsey Biel suggests exposing kids to different sensory experiences to help them develop. Introducing new foods, letting kids help with the cooking, gardening or messy art play are all activities that get those little neurons sparking.
With sensory systems under development, it is not unusual for some toddlers to be highly sensitive to particular textures, tastes and sounds. Tags on clothing, knitted jumpers or wet hands can cause some kids discomfort. This is illustrated hilariously in Conversations with my two year old. Kids also love repetition, and hearing a favourite sounds over and over again re-enforces neural connections. So the next time you have to read a book for the umpteenth time that night, take solace in the knowledge that you are helping your kid learn!
Our sensory addict keeps us laughing with the following antics. What do your kids do that make you laugh?
Forget sweet cuddles prior to bedtime, my boy’s way of showing affection is to head butt us and then scrape his forehead against our heads or chest. He extends this affection to the walls, the sides of his cot and the mattress. Alarmed at first, we consulted google and our GP; apparently it is a very common self-settling quirk.
Offer avocado to him to hold, and he only touches it with one finger and then shudders violently. It is his favourite food, but you’d better not make him hold it. The usually very independent eater must be fed his avocado on a spoon, lest he be put off his meal. There is something hilarious about seeing a toddler get grossed out.
Books, books and more books.
He is a great lover of a novel. Not to read them, but to spend hours flicking through them, eating them, climbing up them and tearing them. I have lost count of the times I have found a bite sized chunk in my favourite read or chased him around the house saying ‘ yucky, spit, spit, spit, spit!’ after he’s gagged on a particularly yummy article. If you have us over, watch out! He will make a beeline for your treasured collection too. I’m thinking a phonebook would probably be the perfect gift for his birthday.
Playing drum on the toilet lid.
Why? Why ? Why? Eeugh. The toilet lid is a favourite musical instrument. If we leave the bathroom door even slightly open he is in there drumming up his own musical performance.
All babies love being naked, mine included. His favourite part of the day is when his nappy comes off for his bath. He usually escapes here and trundles off with a naked bum, a top half on and ridiculously his socks still in place; or, even better, he’ll be totally free and naked. Not content to parade in the hallway, he charges into the lounge to show off his naked status and celebrate the breeze on his little bum.
Not his, ours! Every morning he affectionately hugs us, smiles at us and then shoves a finger up our noses.
A new favourite pastime, his gaping open mouth will punch our cheeks and leave a trail of goo. It’s his blessing of sweet slobbery kisses.
Just a small bite . . .
Teething marks on everything is inevitable. I’m used to finding bite marks in toys, on the bars of our table and all over his sippy cup. Like a puppy, he needs to relieve the pain in his jaws; however, sometimes I think he does it just to find out what something feels like. So if you are a visitor at our house, know that you are taking your own risks if you take off your shoes. He has been known for taking a bite out of guests toes as he is crawling past.
Blankets offend him. If you are holding a blanket, he looks at you suspiciously. They are evil. Tuck him in and he will spend the next ten minutes kicking, squashing and pushing the blanket as far away from him as possible. He is not content until that blanket monster is slayed. Once the blanket monster is annihilated and limp at the end of the bed, he drifts off happily and peacefully to sleep.
Have some funny examples of your child’s sensory exploration? Tell us below.