As soon as they enter the world, babies will start to try and make sense of the world around them, in the only way they can- via their five senses. Until they can communicate using language, it’s the only option open to them and it is also your way of communicating information to them too. Hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing what’s around them helps to develop the brain ( for example, builds memory skills), aids language development ( it is not just a tree, but a big tree, little tree, the water is hot, cold etc) and encourages the development of motor skills.
Get in touch! From the very outset your baby will love and respond to being touched. Babies are born with a highly developed sense of touch, in comparison to some of their other senses. Baby massage is very popular with parents and babies as it has benefits for both of you! The rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body has a calming effect on you too, as it releases certain chemicals into the your body, helping to raise the production of so called “ happy hormones” enabling you to bond even more deeply with your baby. As for your baby, massage has been proven to improve weight gain, improve circulation and even lessen teething troubles. You baby’s skin is very sensitive and if you stroke it gently, it will help soothe and relax them. It will help them feel very loved and secure. You have probably seen for yourself how your baby responds to your touch. Babies explore their own sense of touch by putting everything in their mouths!
Eye, eye! A baby’s vision is one of the least developed of their senses and takes several months to develop. A newborn for instance, will be able to see your face from about 8-12 inches away. But by 6 weeks, your baby’s vision will have improved to the extent they will be able to see you from a distance of between 15- 20 ft. Eye muscles will also be developing during this time and they will start to have the capability to move their eyes in order to track objects, such as your finger, if you move it in front of their face, from side to side and by 4 months, he or she will start to get more out of that strategically placed mobile placed over their cot!
Word to the wise.. the language of love Your baby’s hearing actually starts to develop in the womb ( see our other blog on playing music to your bump!), this helps your baby recognise and be familiar with your voice from the moment they are born. As your baby develops they are more able to focus on speech and will imitate you by babbling. Talking to your baby is therefore very important and an integral part of their development. Reading to your baby is essential and in the early days, it doesn’t matter what you read as they are responding to the sound of your voice and not the words themselves. So if your partner wants to read your baby the sports section, let him! Babies don’t like harsh sounds and prefer and respond better, to adults who speak in gentle tones.
Scent- sational! Babies generally have a pretty good sense of smell from birth. This means your baby will know your “smell” from the outset and will start to recognise the rest of the family within a week. As we know babies are very sensitive to the smell of their mother’s breast milk, which can sometimes make it hard for other people to settle them. The general advice is not to wear heavy perfume if you are breastfeeding as your baby’s sense of smell and taste are closely linked and so he or she might not respond to breastfeeding as well as they could, if they don’t think much of your perfume choice!
( This doesn’t mean you have to become part of the great unwashed either....!)
Taste Notes! We all know babies are sweet things- and it seems it is also the case when it comes to their taste preferences too! They prefer sweet tasting things to sour, as there are several hundred ( it’s true!) more tastebuds in their mouth for sweet things, then for sour. (Maybe we really are all born with a sweet tooth?! ) There has been some research in to this area which suggests, babies can learn the taste of different flavours through their mum’s breast milk and so if you are breastfeeding, try and eat a wide range of food, so your baby can develop their sense of taste.
Have you any ideas on how to stimulate a baby’s senses? Let us know, we would love to hear from you all. Did you decorate the nursery in a certain way?