FALSE! Did you know we actually have 8 Senses?! When we think of our senses we usually think: “I know those: Vision ( 👀) Olfactory ( 👃🏾) Gustatory ( 👅) Auditory ( 👂🏼) Tactile ( ✋🏾)!” But we actually have THREE other senses — Our Vestibular, Proprioceptive and Interoceptive Senses!
So what the heck are those?
- Vestibular – Think BALANCE – this refers to your ability to perceive what your body is doing (e.g., standing, laying, running) and adjust accordingly thanks to some magical crystals in our middle ear (Okay, they’re not magic – but they are super neat!)
- Proprioception – Think SPACE – this is your ability to interpret where your body (each and every body part!) is in space so that you can execute movements etc.!
- Interoception – Think INTERNAL – this is a lesser known system and refers to the pyschiological processes of our body including: emotion, thought processes, organ systems and bodily sensations (hunger, thirst, tired, etc.)
So how does this relate to feeding? We live in a multi-sensory world, and we use each one of those senses every time we eat or take a drink.
We use ALL 8 SENSES when we eat and drink! Picture yourself eating a cracker ➡️ First, you use VISION to see the cracker across the room on the table, this cues our brains (🧠) that we might be getting ready to eat, including increasing our saliva production and sending out those hunger cues!
As you sit down at the table to eat your cracker, wait… did you fall off your chair?! No?! You can thank your PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense for sending signals to your joints and muscles to coordinate body awareness and movements as you move your arms to pull out the chair, step in front of the chair, reach for the seat and sit down, scoot the chair forward to the table, and rest your feet firmly on the ground.
Don’t forget your VESTIBULAR system (part of your inner ear) for telling your brain/body that you are now sitting helping you to balance and to stay upright as you move to sit on that chair!
Now that you’re safely on your chair, you use your OLFACTORY system to smell the cracker’s (cheesy, salty, spicy) scent which begins to prepare you for what flavor you might expect when it touches down on your tongue!
Next, you reach down and use your TACTILE sense to touch your cracker, is it grainy and rough? Powdery? Wet (for our Graham cracker dippers)? Are you getting the idea here?! Next, you placed that cracker into your mouth. Did you miss the cracker? Did it go in on the first try? Thank that PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense again!
Now you are using your GUSTATORY sense to taste that salty/sweet/spicy goodness! Did you let that cracker sit in the middle of your mouth, or were you able to scoop it up with your tongue and bring it over to your teeth to crunch it up? Again, your PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense is at work to move your tongue and push food around your mouth, and to chew.
Wait, did you HEAR that crunch?! Your AUDITORY sense lets you learn how all different food sound when you take a bite – crunch, crack, squish and splat, and while being prepared, and don’t forget how all of those additional background noises may affect participation in mealtime.
All of that for just one bite of cracker! 😅It is amazing how all of these senses are linked, and when one does not work properly, another sense will compensate for it. It is important to provide our little ones opportunities to learn using ALL of their senses – especially when we are at the table!