Have you ever watched a baby look across the room and see their favorite toy? Their eyes light up! What do they do? Move to go get it! So they start wiggling, rolling over, crawling, side stepping while holding onto the couch to get it. What do they do next? Pick it up and feel it with their fingers and put it in their mouth. How many times do they repeat these simple yet very critical steps when they play? 2, 3, 5 times? What they are doing is getting important tactile information about that toy with their fingers and mouth. Not only are they learning more about their toys- is it: bumpy/smooth, big/small, hard/soft? Babies are figuring out what their powerful and amazing arms, hands, and mouth can do with that fun toy, (shake it, throw it, squish it, bite it, and lick it). They are building their body awareness/body scheme as well as their knowledge of the world around them.
So now you ask yourself, how can I help my baby have fun exploring with me? There’s an easy answer to that… get on the floor and play!
Here is a game that’s super easy to set up and SO much fun to play. It’s called the “Textured Crawl” and has been adapted and modified from Family Education.
Materials: Safe articles of interesting textures (e.g. corduroy fabric, velvet fabric, scarves of wool/silk, carpet samples, sticky side of contact paper, cotton fabrics, etc)
Directions: Your rolling, crawling, or furniture walking baby will love the interesting materials you’ve scattered across the floor or on the couch to reach and pull off. Now here’s the best part… get down on the floor and explore them together! Use words that describe how they feel, (smooth, bumpy, hard, soft etc). Make sure to demonstrate how to explore the fabric/material on your face, hands, feet and then you can help your little one copy what you did.
This is a great activity to do with your baby that doesn’t require too much set up and uses items around the house. This activity helps to promote tactile (or touch) exploration, introducing your child to different textures, and helping them to identify their differences and similarities. It can also help develop social interaction, language skills, and is something other siblings/grandparents/family members can get involved in too!
Written by Cassandra Andrade, MS. OTR/L and Julie McCormick, OTR/L