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Supporting physical development in early childhood
Supporting physical development in early childhood

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2.4 Touch

The sense of touch involves a vast system of sensory receptors in the skin. When a sensory receptor is triggered by a specific stimulus, a signal travels to an area in the brain where it is processed and allows the sensation to be felt at the correct part of the body. Touch plays a critical role in supporting children’s emotional wellbeing and development.

A man holding a young baby close to his chest.
Figure 8

There are significant cultural differences related to touch, but it is generally accepted that touch is a positive and necessary experience for all young children. From birth, touch plays a major role in ensuring successful ‘attachment.’

It is the first sense babies become aware of; touch receptors cover the entire body, but they develop in the following order: tongue, mouth, lips, face, head, fingers, arms, trunk and legs.