Making Parenting Easier
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Sensory Weaning and Awakening your Baby’s Five Senses

We use our five senses for everything we do, a combination of these enables us to evaluate the environment around us. We perceive the world through sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. As your baby begins his/her weaning journey, it’s really important to take some time to understand how much we are in control of how we would like our little ones to see the big world of food, flavour and textures. This milestone of exploring solids is a big one and incorporating the five senses in as many ways as possible during and outside of mealtimes is a great way to awaken their senses and creates a journey to remember.

 

The five senses will enhance your baby’s eating experience and ultimately help your baby to make choices and develop personal preferences. Being aware of and utilising your baby’s five senses is vital for their growing brain to develop optimally – stimulation of their sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch will allow them to create perceptions and form memories during their first years.

 

When it comes to food we want our babies to create a POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP – other factors such as the size, shape, colour, temperature and surface texture all play an important part in helping to determine your baby’s first reaction to a food – remember that it can take up to 15 exposures for your baby to accept a new flavour or texture.

 

During weaning, combining and incorporating these senses by thinking about a few things will help determine your baby’s reaction to food:

👁 what does the food LOOK like? – colour, shape and size

👃🏻 what does the food SMELL like? – allow your baby to differentiate ingredients through smells

👂🏼 what does the food SOUND like when touched, crushed, or chewed? – off your baby foods with different textures and sounds

👅 what does the food TASTE like? – allow your baby to different ingredients and flavours

✋🏽 what does the food FEEL like? – Messy edible play is SO important, your baby needs to understand what food feels like not just in his/mouth but also by touching and playing with food. Think about textures. Touch also relates to temperature of food.

 

In order to make the most of each of your baby’s five senses, we recommend trying to get into the ‘Sensory Mindset’. Thinking about the following 3 main elements during mealtimes will help to create an optimal sensory environment:

  1. Plate/Bowl/Tray – the medium on which your baby will be eating from is key as this is where food will be presented. We suggest a neutral colour so the appearance of food stands out and selecting a shape which will create a positive experience for your baby – animal shapes are popular!
  2. Food – always think about the food that is being served, strive to create a balanced plate and ‘eat the rainbow’
  3. Surroundings – where safe, allow your baby to be part of the process. Cook with your baby, let him/her listen to all the sizzles and sounds, watch you prepare vegetables and even having a little taste.

 

Sensory activities such as edible messy play is a brilliant way to excite you little ones senses. However, other ideas include:

  • Sight – not only does a balanced and colourful plate excite little eyes but getting creative with vegetable cutters to produce fun shapes and animals will really enhance their eating experience
  • Sound – Give your baby interesting foods that will help them experience different sounds e.g kale crisps, melty puffs, baby rice crackers/rusks
  • Smell – Create different references for the same food in varying formats e.g fresh and dried – lemon vs lemon rind/any citrus fruit, fresh herbs vs. dried herbs
  • Taste – Allow your baby to experience fruits and vegetables in different forms (ensure they are size appropriate for your baby’s age) e.g grated, spiralised, ribboned, sticks. Each form will vary in taste and smell due to the nature of how the plant cells have been cut therefore releasing different quantities of aroma volatiles.
  • Touch – Present your baby with more than one texture at meal times, this doesn’t have to be something they are ingesting it could just be something they are feeling. One great thing to do is offering your baby whole fruits – melon, orange, apple – each have different skins and textures and to a certain extent smells depending on ripeness.

 

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