When my babies were born, I was determined to do everything I could to help their development. So, when they were just a few weeks old and I’d stopped reeling from the birth and still had those beautiful post-birth hormones which make you feel like superwoman; off we went to every class available in the area; baby yoga, sensory class, language class, swimming, music to name but a few! I don’t regret for a minute doing these classes – I really do believe they contributed greatly to my girls’ early development and we met some great friends many of whom we are still in touch with.
But by far the greatest contributor to my babies’ development has been the times we have spent together, simply, outdoors. Lying under a tree in a local public garden, walking on the beach, hiking in the woods to a hidden waterfall; these are the priceless experiences which have stimulated and provided sensory experiences shaping my girls’ development like no class could possibly have.
I’m kicking this series of posts off writing about my favourite place to be and to take my babies: the beach. As an adult, a walk along the beach calms, soothes and lifts me. I can only imagine that it does the very same for my babies. It is a sensory experience like no other, here’s why:
Waves crashing, seagulls squawking, the sound of the wind, maybe of pebbles rolling in the waves, or children playing. I used to download white noise of crashing waves to play to the girls to help them sleep at home; but a walk by the beach does the job much better.
The light playing on the sea, glistening of the spray as the waves crash on the shore, the changing light with the constantly moving sky – this stimulates the brain’s light receptors in a far more natural way than any flashing light toy or shiny foil blanket.
Don’t we all love that ‘beachy’ smell? Seaweed, salty air that conjures up in adults a million memories of happy days on the beach. I’m sure my babies would know where we were just by smelling the air when we get to the beach.
There’s nothing quite like a sea breeze (or more often full-on gale force prevailing winds where we live!) on the skin to invigorate and freshen us. My babies would laugh out loud at the wind blowing in their faces and in the little hair that they had. As toddlers, they love running the sand through their fingers, eating it (?!), playing with smooth round pebbles and rough ones, and splashing in the water.
Inevitably my babies end up tasting the sand, stones and saltwater: all good experience I’m sure, even if not really ‘good’ for them, everything in moderation, no?!