If your child is not putting everything in their mouth for sensory input, or can tell the difference between something they can eat or not eat, then shaving cream or soapy foam can be used to help your baby with tactile stimulation, learning to open their index finger (pointer finger) and practice drawing. The whole body is engaged in this kind of play and opportunities for language development abound, too.
A typical baby’s index finger begins to “unfurl” and become useful to them around the age of 8 to 9 months. At this time, they can pass an object from hand to hand and use their index finger and thumb to grasp objects (pincher’s grasp) such as small bites of food. In a baby with low muscle tone, or with cognitive delay, this interaction between brain and finger comes later. It is important that it is encouraged early on in their development since it is the basis for the vast majority of finger and hand operations regarding self-care. Just think about how you use your pointer finger every hour! For a child, they can begin to push buttons, point out what interests them, poke holes in playdough, touch things for sensory input, feed themselves and a long list of other things.
In the video here, 22 month old Arabella is trying an activity that will encourage her to draw with shaving cream if she opens her fingers and (hopefully) uses her index finger to draw in the shaving cream. She is not using her index finger fully, and we are trying to get her brain’s awareness of that finger and its control heightened.
Watch how Tad Bruneau, OTR/L, introduces Arabella to playing with shaving cream. She has played with it before, when it was safely encased in a Ziplock bag, but this time she has the full sensory experience of smell, touch, taste and visual reaction to the foam on her play table. Read the rest of this entry »