In the first part of this blog series, we covered what happens in utero. Let's go over what happens after the baby is born. Now that the brain has fully formed and you have this adorable baby in your arms, the growth really amps up and the cognitive development begins. There are basically four stages in cognitive development in adolescents, and two in infant to toddlers. For the relevance of this blog I will discuss the first two
Stage one is the sensorimotor stage which is from birth to around age 2. During this stage of development children learn about the world through their senses and manipulation of objects. This is why sensory play is so important, and I start at just 8 weeks old in our sensory and development classes at IFM. During this time the child will make neurological connections using their five senses: taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch. For example, you may introduce a rattle around 2 months old and wonder when they will hold it or play with it. Actually though, they are already exploring the rattle, looking at it, hearing the sound it makes, eventually bringing it to their mouth for a taste. They are using their cognitive brain function to figure out what it is, what it’s for, and how it works. It will not be long before they are grabbing that rattle and shaking it on their own.
Stage two, which is from 2 to around 7 years old, is the pre-operational stage. During this stage the child develops imagination and memory. They are also able to understand things symbolically and understand the ideas of past and future. Meaning it’s time to get out the puppets and dress up clothes, baby dolls and strollers, and let those imaginations run wild! It is also a great time to introduce arts and crafts and begin to nurture their creativity. Think about what we learn from 2 to 7. Shapes, numbers, ABCs, 123s, colors, months of the year, days of the week, and so much more!
Sensory play and development of cognitive skills go hand in hand. Some cognitive skills include auditory processing, visual processing, logic and reasoning, short and long term memory, and processing speed. All skills the brain uses to think, learn, read, remember, pay attention, and solve problems. By nurturing these cognitive skills with sensory play, we are helping our little ones develop deeper connections with those skills and a better understanding of how to use them in the real world.
As parents we all just want the best for our kids. We want to help them learn, grow, and develop into the people they are destined to be. I hope this series will help guide you on your parenthood journey. Feel free to reach out to me or any of the staff at IFM we would love to give you the support you have been looking for and answer any questions you may have.
I offer specialty coaching sessions with families in their home to help you facilitate developmentally appropriate play with your child, based on their age and developmental age. For more info, please contact our office at 515-226-3415 or email@example.com.
About the author: Hi, I’m Stephanie. Welcome to my first official blog post as the Pediatric Sensory Development Specialist at Integrative Family Medicine (IFM). I am so excited to walk you through understanding brain development and how sensory play can help your child’s physical, emotional, and mental development. To truly understand brain development you must understand how the brain works. I believe having this knowledge can help parents everywhere understand their children and anticipate their needs even before they can articulate them. There is a lot to cover when it comes to pediatric development, I plan to cover as much as possible in this blog series.