Learn with us on our blog and catch up with the latest Sensory Beginnings news

Sensory Babies Separator

Taste of Summer

Our sense of taste is a chemosensory system that evolved to help us be efficient at finding nutritionally useful foods and recognising harmful foods. Throughout the evolution of different species, dietary feeding behaviours and therefore taste perceptions have changed. As humans our evolution as omnivores means we have genes that encode our taste receptors to [...]

Smell: Survival, social connections, Emotions, memory, feeding / eating tastes

In mammals, including we humans, the olfactory system plays an important role in searching for food, eating, and tasting. Its roles helps in avoiding danger, supporting social connections, finding partners for survival of the individuals and species as well as supporting memories and mapping the world. Smell gives us a chemical means of communicating that [...]

Know your Neurobiology: Stress – Moving out of Homeostasis Part 2

Following on from our last blog post looking at Stress we thought we’d go over the neurobiology of the stress response.  Monitoring for stressors is a constant activity of the Autonomic Nervous System(ANS) and associated structures. Stress, when registered, initiates an ancient, carefully orchestrated and instantaneous sequence of neurotransmitter & hormonal changes. These create physiological [...]

Know your Neurobiology: Stress – Moving out of Homeostasis

April is Stress awareness month! So, we thought we’d take a look at what stress is all about.  Our brain’s primary job is to keep us safe in the moment. It does this by ‘keeping an eye out’ for internal and external sensory cues that suggest something is amiss. Cumulative messages build pressure that overwhelms [...]

Know your Neurobiology: Oxytocin

Oxytocin, a hormone known as the love hormone or cuddle chemical! As OTs we love that the acronym for Oxytocin is OT!  Love is both the emotion and the biological process that creates the ‘calm and connection system’ designed to facilitate closeness, relationship, empathy and a sense of safety. And it plays a vital role [...]

Know your Neurobiology: The Auditory System Development

Development The auditory system develops in a very specific way inside the womb. This process is interrupted and occurs differently when taking place outside of the womb due to a premature birth. The infant’s exposure to frequencies of sounds, noise, and noise levels is very different within the NICU.  There are differing estimates of the [...]

Know your Neurobiology: The Auditory System

Introduction Auditory processing supports us to connect with others and the environment across space.  Our sense of hearing enables us to register, orient to, and process sound energy waves and create responses to those sounds.  We often detect the presence and location of objects and activity before we can see them. We can respond to [...]

Siblings in the Neonatal Unit

Having a sibling in neonatal care can be an incredibly stressful time for a child. Beavis(2007) describes how the disruption in routine, the financial, physical, and emotional strain on the family can evoke a strong emotional response in siblings. Trauma surrounding a hospital admission of a baby or child does not just impact on the [...]

Pain and Stress in the Neonatal Unit

Managing pain and stress is the ethical responsibility of everybody who works in the neonatal unit. “All pain is stress, but not all stress is pain.” Mary Coughlin   Pain and Stress Pain and stress are ongoing experiences to babies admitted to the neonatal unit. Carbajal (2018) reported an infant in ITU experiences up to [...]

Neurodevelopmental Follow Up

Each year, around 13,000 babies are born very prematurely (before 32 weeks’ gestation) in England alone.  Although most babies who are born early do incredibly well, being born very premature can have long term effects on a child’s development. (Prism study, 2019)  There are number of global longitudinal follow up programmes that monitor the [...]

Models of Neonatal Care

To celebrate our first neonatal unit course this month we would like to give a brief overview of different models of neonatal care. Whichever model you choose to use, always think about the sensory environment. Baby Behaviour Dr. T Berry Brazelton an Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics at Harvard Medical School was able to show the world that newborn [...]

Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory – different long term responses to pain

Why do perceptions of pain following traumatic or prolonged stress events differ in people?  We were asked why some children who have had many early painful procedures in the NICU as infants appear not to notice pain when they are older.  Our autonomic nervous system responds to stress (pain in this instance) with both sympathetic [...]

Know your Neurobiology: The Vestibular System Part 1

Hanging beds were used to stimulate the vestibular system by ancient Greek physiciansto reduce pain and to induce sleep. Roman physicians used vestibular stimulation to treatmental illness. The Victorians used a spinning chair to treat mania. Parents across the planet rock their babies to calm them and when looking for excitement we head for the [...]

Know your Neurobiology: The Proprioceptive System Part 2

Proprio (ourselves) ception (perception): the awareness of our body parts, their actions, our body size and shape, our current body postures, monitoring of self-motion, our memories of movements we can undertake all of these are largely down to our proprioceptive sense.  This sense is based on sensory signals provided to the central nervous system (brainand [...]

Know your Neurobiology: The Proprioceptive System Part 1

Proprioception gives us our senses of position and movement throughout our body, it gives the sense of effort, force, heaviness, stretch, speed of movement. It knows where body parts are without seeing them. Together with tactile and interoception it gives us a body scheme. Together with vestibular and vision it enables us to maintain postures [...]

Know your Neurobiology: Tactile System

The rich tactile world we inhabit is accessed through our skin. Our skin is our largest organ and as such has a wide-ranging impact on our development, our behaviours and our understanding of the social and physical world we inhabit. We can chunk its role into three main functions. To protect, regulate, and discriminate. These distinct [...]

Know your Neurobiology: Tactile Discrimination

Tactile discrimination is about our somatosensory cortex receiving and processing detailed tactile information, together with proprioceptive information, and integrating it with other detailed sensory information from vision, auditory etc to build neuronal connections and create libraries of malleable memory maps of the world around us. These memory maps are ‘experience-dependent’ we have to explore the world to build the library. [...]