Sensory Stimulation and Infant Brain Development
Maternal-infant bonding and attachment and its relationship to child development have been well researched and documented.
The importance of early relationships and forming a strong attachment to their caregiver will ensure that the infant will feel secure, and develop a sense of trust and confidence. These are building blocks in the child’s development and are continually added to and reshaped based on childhood experiences and challenges.
Belskey and Pluess (2009) discuss that children are affected by developmental experiences and they cite issues such as family poverty, parental warmth and hostility Even the quality of childcare is mentioned, and there are many more topics which will not be discussed in this module. This highlights there are many factors that impact on child development.
Bortherson (2005) discusses that early brain development can be viewed as a work in progress, and relies on parental responsiveness, good nutrition, daily interactive experiences, love and physical activity. It is these early experiences (even those the infant hears and feels whilst in the womb), such as those from the 5 senses, that help in building the extensive network in the baby’s brain. It is these early sensory experiences which reinforce the connections between the brain cells.
An understanding of the importance of early touch and how in early life it shapes the infants capacity for social affiliation allows us to comprehend the early introduction of how to manage stress. Research conducted by Feldman, Singer and Zagoory (2010, cited in Hertenstein and Weiss, 2011) indicated during a period of maternal emotional unavailability (no response to the infants cues or needs) yet with continued maternal touch infants demonstrated a more attuned stress response in comparison to infants where no touch was used. It was also found that the infants’ without touch experienced increasedcortisol levels and that there was a prolonged period for the infant to recover from this episode.
Weiss and Gobel (2003) discuss the impact of how early tactile parental experiences when they were children will significantly affect how frequently they affectionaly touch their own infants. Weiss and Gobel’s research (cited in Hertenstein and Weiss, 2011) was interested in the preterm infant and believed that once the parents had been able to discuss the trauma associated with having a premature baby, began to display more affectionate interactive touch.
For further reading please access the following article:
Visually Impaired Touch
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