Your baby is born with all five senses, but they continue developing significantly after birth. Here, we will examine the development of your new baby’s senses.
When a baby is born, he or she has a very limited range of vision, at approximately eight to twelve inches. This is why babies love when you are face to face and when parents make exaggerated facial expressions. Vision develops fairly rapidly, however, and by a month, babies can see the angles of a person’s face. Hand-eye coordination starts developing within the first eight weeks. By three months, babies follow moving objects with their eyes and should begin reaching for objects. After a few months, babies can recognize facial expressions, and at five months, depth perception begins to develop. This is also around the time that babies can begin to see different colors well. By one year, babies should be using their hands and eyes together well, helping them to crawl, throw things, and grasp objects with their thumb and forefinger.
Taste and Smell
Babies are born with fully developed senses of taste and smell. In fact, babies have more taste buds than adults, especially when it comes to receptors for sweet tastes! Your baby can also identify and localize odors at birth, which is why he or she will turn their head away from an unpleasant smell. Your baby’s sense of taste actually developed in utero, when he or she would swallow amniotic fluid, the taste of which would change according to what mom ate or drank!
A baby’s inner ear is fully developed at about 20 weeks into pregnancy, meaning that your baby is born fully able to hear. Babies actually have very sensitive hearing, which is why they jump at sudden and loud sounds and why they enjoy high-pitched voices and baby talk. By the age of two months, your baby recognizes familiar voices (besides that of the mother, which is even recognized by babies as young as three days), and by the age of four months a baby will start looking around for the source of a sound that he or she hears. Around eight months, your baby will start responding to changes in the tone of your voice and by a year he or she should be responding to their own name.
An interesting fact about a baby’s hearing is that for the first year, a baby can hear the difference in sounds from foreign languages, but by the end of that first year the baby can no longer recognize sounds that are not part of their native language!
Touch is a very important sense to your baby, and you will find that he or she loves to be gently touched. Research actually shows that babies who snuggle bare-chested with their mothers tend to breathe better and cry less often. Babies can tell differences in texture and weight of objects beginning at birth, and by six months, he or she will be grabbing at everything they can reach.
Sensory development in babies is fascinating, and you will find that they continue developing considerably in the first year of life!
You now have a sound idea of how your baby’s brain and senses develop. The first year of life is a formative time for humans, and there is much that you can do to foster greater development. In our next chapter, we will look at activities you can do with your baby to help stimulate the senses.