Sensory Experiences for Brain Development

Every child has their own individual development through experiences. When an infant is born, the only part of the brain that is very developed is the brain stem. This part of the brain controls essential reflexes and functions such as breathing patterns, kicking, sleeping, rooting, crying, feeding…

The rest of the brain (the cortex) beyond these basic “maintenance” reflexes, will continue to develop, and this part of your child’s brain, the part actually associated with who they will become as a dynamic individual, will be shaped by the input from the world around it, input from the senses.

Therefore, nurturing your child’s natural curiosity and brain development by providing engaging experiences explored through all 5 of the main sensory experiences directly affects the interweaving of neuronal connections:

The 5 Sensory Experiences for Brain Development: Photo credit: Valeria CL via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The 5 Sensory Experiences
1) see
2) hear
3) smell
4) taste
5) touch

As pathways develop, it will be easier for parents to understand sensory needs of their babies and toddlers. By exposing infants to these experiences, they will begin to become more comfortable with the world around them, which will encourage their own autonomous sensory stimulation and indirectly reinforce a connection with their families.

Typical phrases
Often used for these early yrs when brain connections can be made:

“Blooming and Pruning”
“use it or lose it”

This is important because when Synapses are not activated on a regular basis, children’s developmental ability will diminish as the plasticity of the human brain wanes gradually.
Think of it like the ideal garden, so obviously we want all our vegetables and fruits to flourish, grow, and thrive. The plants that we love and nourish the most will grow successfully and come back year after year. However, the plants that we don’t attend to or spend less time with will slowly die out. And we definitely want to avoid fostering the growth of weeds or allow weeds to overtake the fruits of our labor. The more plants that survive and grow, the more opportunity we have gifted our child with for future success and happiness.

Many people think of our human brains like computers, with software being our differing input experiences. The problem with this analogy is that the basic wiring of the human brain is less fixed, less static, than the current level of computer technology. The analogy of the garden is more appropriate on many levels, evoking the more organic and complex nature of the changes in the human brain, the fact that tending of the garden has a more direct relationship to the outcome, and the fact that the product sets up the health for future tending success, whether it be by feeding the parent (or future adult in child form) as the tender, or by creating healthy crops as a source for future seedlings.

Another example would be to consider language learning. Newborns can pick up numerous languages at the onset of birth. However, over time their understanding becomes limited to the brain speech connections of sounds. This proliferation of brain connections may determine their language potential for later in life.


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