Your Baby's Senses

mother holding smiling baby boy

(BlackDoctor.org) — Find out about your baby’s five senses at birth and
beyond.

Your newborn navigates the world using his five senses. Baby’s sensory
explorations are constant, whether he’s mesmerized by Daddy’s face (or his
brightly patterned tie) or soothed by the sound of his favorite lullaby or the
smell of Mommy’s skin. Keep things interesting by exposing baby to lots of new
sensations — tickle him with a feather or play your favorite CD. The
possibilities are endless when there’s a whole world to discover.

1. Baby’s Sense of Touch
Your baby
thrives on being held and cuddled. And your touch has an amazing power to
communicate love, as well as soothe him and even boost his immunity. Research
shows that babies who are stroked lovingly don’t get sick as much and cry less
often. And preemies who are massaged grow and develop faster than babies who
aren’t. It’s natural for your newborn to prefer soft touches, like a gentle
caress or the feel of soft cotton. You’ll notice that baby bristles at a rough
touch or a scratchy, coarse fabric.

2. Baby’s Sense of Taste
Baby’s palate
starts to develop in the womb. Different flavors from Mom’s diet are transmitted
to baby through the amniotic fluid, and then through breast milk once he’s born.
Recent studies show that the foods baby was exposed to during pregnancy or
nursing are the ones he tends to like. So if you love carrots, don’t be
surprised if your little one shares your opinion. But no matter what you ate
during pregnancy, baby is born with a sweet tooth. He’ll love that first bite of
sweet pureed banana or applesauce.

3. Baby’s Sense of Hearing
Baby’s
hearing is well developed at birth, but he prefers high-pitched voices, like
Mom’s, because he hears them best. That’s why the baby talk most people use is
also music to his ears. Over the first year your child’s hearing will sharpen
and he’ll learn to track sounds. For the first three months, he’ll only turn
toward a sound that’s in front of him, but by 6 to 12 months he’ll look toward a
noise coming from behind him or from across the room.

4. Baby’s Sense of Smell
Baby’s little
nose is in full working order at birth. He knows your scent well from the time
he spent in the womb, and studies show that newborns can tell the difference
between their mother’s breast pads and those of another nursing mom by scent.
Babies are born preferring sweet smells like the fragrance of vanilla; lemon is
also a favorite. And your newborn naturally dislikes foul odors, like the smell
of rotten eggs. He also hates bitter or sour tastes — probably an instinct to
help him avoid dangerous foods.

5. Baby’s Sense of Sight
At first, a
baby’s eyes don’t work together, and studies suggest that he sees two of
everything. He focuses best on objects 8 to 12 inches in front of him (images
closer or farther away are blurry). That’s about the distance to your face when
you’re feeding him, so it’s no wonder that he loves looking at you.

Newborns prefer the human face in general. They’re especially drawn to the
outline of the face or the hairline, which is easy to see because of the
contrast. Newborns can distinguish light from dark but can’t quite see color
until about 4 months. Try getting baby’s attention with high-contrast patterns
(like a checkerboard or stripes) and black-and-white or boldly colored toys. At
4 months he’ll begin to use his eyes to coordinate his hand movements, making
reaching and grabbing easier.

The information on BlackDoctor.org is designed for educational purposes
only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care.
You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or
illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult
a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your
child’s condition.

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