I’m just going to come out and say it: babies are an absolute minefield.  You’re a new parent, completely reeling from this lifechanging event, and all of a sudden you have to care for this teeny tiny little thing!  How many times do you need to change their nappy?  Are they crying because they’re hungry, or sleepy, or teething?  Are they getting enough food?  Do they spend too much time on their back?  Or on their front?

All of the above questions, along with hundreds of others, have more than one answer, depending on who you ask.  The conflicting advice can be very confusing when you’re just starting out, but for me, the best and only advice I really held onto in those early days was: you know your baby best.  You spend all day with your little one, and it doesn’t take too long to figure out their rhythms and fall into step with them (although for me, the night wakings will be something I will never get used to!).  So trust your instincts, and trust you know what your baby is telling you.

My little boy is a little older now, and while feeding, sleeping and changing are pretty much sorted for us, one thing that is always on my mind is: is he getting enough stimulation?  I would agree with anyone who describes me as a digital mum, in that I am a huge fan of a progress app, or a quick google of anything new that’s happening.  This means that I’m constantly looking out for little development changes and excitedly googling what it means!

It also means that I’m constantly worried about his stimulation.  Is he under-stimulated?  Over-stimulated?  Is he getting the right sort of stimulations for his age?  It’s so tricky to know what is right, and also to think of activities for them.

Tummy time is really important for babies to train their developing muscles ready to sit up, roll over, crawl and eventually walk, and having your baby on their tummy for at least a little bit of time a day (as long as they are enjoying it) is really good for them.  It’s also a good time to introduce some baby sensory activities.

What is baby sensory?  Essentially, it involves activities that help with a baby’s sensory and motor development.  It allows babies to explore the world with their five senses, alongside their hand eye coordination.

So what are some ways you can involve your baby in these activities?  In most areas there are plenty of sensory classes you can take your baby to, which are a great way of meeting other parents and playing with toys that aren’t easy to get hold of for regular parents.  These classes can be expensive and hard to get on (honestly, getting spaces on these classes feels like getting tickets to Glastonbury), so if that’s not right for you, there are plenty of ways to engage your baby at home.

My advice to giving babies sensory learning at home: musical instruments.  Baby friendly instruments are excellent at developing three of your baby’s senses: seeing, hearing and touching, alongside that ever-important hand eye coordination.  Oohbox have carefully curated a gift box of pure joy in our "Making Music" baby gift box.  We have included a Baby rattles, Maracas, a xylophones and super soft teddy comforter.  This is an incredible gift for new parents to help entertain their baby.  Starting early, baby can watch their parents play the instruments which introduces new sounds and rhythms and as they get stronger they can play them themselves.

As I’ve said, engaging your baby’s brain, body and senses can be tricky, but if you want my advice, a box of musical instruments and a bit of time on their tummy can work wonders!

October 13, 2021 — Hannah Selby-Hughes