What does the Sensory thread involve?

It is through our sensory systems that we learn about our body and the world outside.

Once babies are born they are surrounded by sights, sounds, touch, smells, tastes. They gather sensations from their bodies as they learn to move in the world and interact with the people, objects and environments around them. Sensations are like food for our brains and bodies; they are essential for our development. We put sensations together to understand about people and objects and environments, and what they mean to us; how they make us feel.

We have eight sensory systems. Five are commonly known about: touch, vision, hearing, taste, smell. We also have sensory systems that tell us about movement and gravity, our vestibular sense; about movement of our muscles and joints, proprioception; and sensations from our inner body, interoception. This sense enables us to know when we are hungry or uncomfortable.

Some preterm infants are at risk for abnormal sensory development.  This is due to brain immaturity at birth and the type of sensory experiences in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. These can alter the development and functioning of the sensory systems.

How can I apply the Sensory thread, to support my high risk infant?

Early life experiences, skin-skin contact, seeing parents’ faces, hearing their voices, and experiencing movement, all provide important positive sensory information that sculpts the developing brain. Carrying, rocking and dancing with your baby helps them to experience movements in a safe and cocooned way.


Massage, parent’s faces and voices, and skin-to-skin care are all positive sensory-based experiences that have been found to be related to better parent and infant outcomes.

Sensory play can help a child learn to adapt to different sensory inputs. For example some children who are fussy eaters may experience sensory challenges, particularly those born preterm. The use of carefully chosen sensory activities can assist the child in touching, smelling and adapting to the different textures in a play environment.

The EiSMART approach helps parents learn about how the sensory experiences of touch, interaction, voice and movement, can help regulate their baby, buffer stress, and support attachment and development. 


You can access free resources to support your child, including leaflets to support developmental play here.

We’ve compiled a list of useful resources and contacts here.

Learn about the other threads of the EiSMART framework here.

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