Your baby’s senses at birth
Your newborn experiences the world around her in a special way
A BABY’S SENSES are all fully developed by the time she is born. However, because some of the senses are not functioning to their full capacity in the womb, it is important that you stimulate her senses once she is born.
Here are some things to be aware of and some ways to stimulate her senses.
This is one of the first senses to develop in the womb. At 28 weeks’ gestation this sense is fully developed and babies are able to feel everywhere in their body except on the top of the skull. (This may be to help the baby squeeze through the birth canal.)
It is important that you have skin - toskin contact with your baby as soon as she is born. This will help her feel safe and secure. It is also recommended that you massage baby as this will help her build up a mind map of her body parts, as well as an understanding of how her body fits into the space around it.
SMELL AND TASTE
Unlike the other senses, your baby’s sense of smell is linked directly to the emotional centre of the brain. This is why your baby is able to associate the smell of your breastmilk with you.
Babies prefer sweet tastes more than any other so it’s fortunate that breastmilk is sweet. There is no need to stimulate this sense because it is pervasive and it is directly linked to our brain. In the early days with baby, don’t put on any perfume, as this may be overwhelming for her.
This sense is the least developed while in the womb. This is because there is no visual activity in the womb to help stimulate her sense of sight. When she is born she is only able to focus on a 20-25cm distance from her eyes, so she is able to see her mom’s face when she is breastfeeding.
The rest of the world is still a blurry picture for her. To help stimulate her sense of sight you can put up different shapes of contrasting colours within her sight. She will take an interest in this and this will help develop her eyesight.
Babies learn to follow the direction of sound and also learn to attach meaning to the sound they hear. By the time she is born she is able to hear perfectly, the only difference from what she heard in the womb is that sound now comes at a faster rate and is much louder than what it was. This is because while in the womb the sound travels through water before getting to her. Your baby will be able to recognise her mom and dad’s voice first.
There’s never a moment of silence in the womb. When everything is quiet in the outside world baby can still hear the beating of her mom’s heart and the silent gushes of your blood flowing in your veins and this is soothing for baby. YB