Your baby’s senses at birth

Your new­born ex­pe­ri­ences the world around her in a spe­cial way

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

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.

TOUCH

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.

SIGHT

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.

HEAR­ING

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

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