What's your baby's sensory personality?
Nov 01, 2020
Sensory Integration is the process by which sensory information is taken in through the brain and processed. It determines the output, reaction or behaviour. Sensory Integration begins in the womb with our sense of touch starting at just 7 and half weeks. When I was pregnant, I found out at 6 weeks and this was just before my little girl was starting to process sensory input. Crazy!
We have all been around and seen those mums who are really stressed and those mums who seem to totally have their life together haven’t we? Well let me tell you something, your babies temperament and personality is formed through two avenues:
- Nurture is the way your baby is brought up.
- Nature is your babies temperament related to genetics.
From a sensory perspective, we believe that the way a person processes and responds to sensory information strongly influences his temperament, which in turn affects their personality. Personality is moulded by a person’s experience and upbringing. Therefore, your baby’s personality is a function of their ‘temperament’ and experiences of ‘nurture’.
What personality does your baby have?
From an OT and sensory perspective emphasis is on supporting parents to help their baby self-regulate. Sensory Integration is so important because it supports functional activities such as play, mood, sleep and feeding. That is why the most important factor I tell any parent is that learning to self-regulate can only occur within the context of a relationship. It is on a continuum of dependence to independence and it is our role to scaffold and grade this for our little baba’s. Once you have considered and thought about their personality we have to establish ways to support their sensory needs without getting over whelmed ourselves.
- Limit stimulation - babies have been in an enclosed, warm, calm space for 9 months, their sensory systems can get overloaded. So reducing sensory overload and developing a ‘womb’ like environment to reduce arousal is perfect.
- Proprioception – Babies get proprioception during the 3rd trimester from pressure in the womb and when passing through the birth canal. Babies respond to this sensory input and it is calming for them! So when you swaddle your little one, bring their hands to meet at the centre of their body, legs bent and cuddle to give them deep pressure. This is also great for after a bath if your little one does not enjoy bathing or it could be the change in temperature leaving the water.
- Slow Down – When babies are dysregulated parents do LOTS (I have been there too!) but we have to remember to slow down. If you parent is changing a nappy and another is changing clothes and there is lots of talking (as an example) that is a LOT happening for our little ones in relation to their sensory processing. So take it step by step, doing one task at a time to support them.
- Recognise your signals – Your emotional state influences your little one’s response. You must be aware of your personal emotional state and feelings and manage those first. This is what will greatly influence your baby’s state and level of arousal. So please do not think ‘I have to put my baby first’ by calming your body, you support calming theirs. We call it co-regulation!
Let us know how you get on! On our facebook group Occupational Therapy Tips and Tricks or page Therapeeze facebook or email us, we would love to know!