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Nurture Your Baby’s Senses

Babyhood One of the most exciting times in parenting is watching your newborn make new developments physically and verbally. Growth spurts, first words… discovering their particular personality. Whether you know it or not, babies have very unique personalities and this is fun to discover as a parent.

Babies are constantly observing you, the world, family, friends… as soon as they exit moms womb. As their intellectual growth advances, you can help them succeed by using different techniques – simple techniques!! – and watch them flourish, but we’ll get to that later.

Let’s break down the basics in your baby’s senses. Babies are actually born with well-developed senses. Their senses progress immensely in utero and during their 1st year.


The sense of touch develops before your baby is born. As a fetus, baby explores your womb and themselves by touching their head, feet, etc. This may be what you feel when movement is happening.

Between 7 and 14 weeks is most important for touch development. The most important form of touch is between mother and baby’s skin. This is one reason why you should breast-feed if possible. Not only does it bond you both, but your baby is comforted from feeling your warmth – also from your scent & voice.

With your infant, take time to touch different items to their skin. Something soft, like a fuzzy blanket or fresh laundry. Something cool, like a cold glass of water. Something smooth, something rough. Use different textures and rub them on your baby’s arm.

“Baby touch” books are also great tools for exposing different textures!


A baby’s sense of sight develops gradually. Unlike hearing, this could take a good 6 to 8 months. Things will be pretty fuzzy for awhile but baby can make out the face of those holding them. Your baby will be fascinated with your face for this reason, so smile and give them plenty of face-to-face time.

It’ll be hard for them to distinguish colors so show bright colored toys, pictures, books. By 4 months your baby’s eyes should coordinate to movements. Try handing your baby things that are easy to grasp like rattles, straws, spoons to help motor development and eye coordination go together. Peekaboo will probably be your baby’s most enticing game at this time so go for it all you want!


Smell is the most advanced sense at birth so don’t be surprised when certain odors trigger a baby’s reaction. Smells are so important and heightened to a baby because it brings them a sense of familiarity and safeness. Especially mom’s smell.

Try a calming scent, like lavender.

Crazy enough – at about 30 weeks a fetus can smell. Your baby will recognize your amniotic fluid and then your breast milk as soon as they are born. Your scent is most important as a parent since that will put baby at ease.


Babies first taste will develop in utero. Whatever you’re eating during your pregnancy, your child will develop a taste preference to. Your baby is exposed to the flavors (yes, your pregnancy cravings count too!) you ingest through the amniotic fluid and breast milk and this will influence their preferences once they exit the womb.


Your baby should be hearing clearly from birth. Baby heard noises and your voice in the womb so by the end of the 1st month their hearing is actually fully developed. Baby’s pay major attention to sounds and talking, especially high-pitched voices. This is why “motherese” aka baby-talk is actually proactive for your baby to hear.

Loud sounds should startle your baby, while mom’s voice and singing should soothe. By 3 months your baby should attempt to talk back to you through gargles and babbles.

Sing nursery rhymes, play music, sing the same lullaby every night. Get your baby familiar with the music you enjoy. Reading to your baby no matter how young is an excellent way to develop this sense, not to mention their verbal skills as they get older!

These are fun to try – pregnancy headphones!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I just wrote an entry on touch and feel books. Check it out!

    June 9, 2012
    • Cute, thanks for sharing.! I love the ‘Animal Kisses’book too 🙂

      November 17, 2012

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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