5 Senses for Infants

Have you ever wondered how much of the world around them babies are experiencing? Infants have a very different perception of things than adults do. While senses like hearing or touch are fully developed from the time a baby is born, it can take many months for senses like sight to develop fully. Learning when and how the 5 senses for infants develop can help you to learn how to stimulate them the most effectively.

5 Senses for Infants

1. Sight

How It Develops:

  • Newborns generally see things in black and white and only see things clearly around 8-12 inches away.
  • At 6 weeks your child’s vision improves so he can see things 15-20 feet away.
  • As the muscles in the eyes develop your baby will be able to track movement in front of his face more easily.
  • By 4 months your child should be able to see colors with less contrast very clearly.
  • By 8-12 months he should have clear depth perception.

How to Aid:

Making eye contact is the best way to help your baby develop his vision. Focus on your baby when you feed him without multitasking. Switching sides while feeding can also help both sides of his vision develop equally. Give your baby “tummy time” to allow his neck and head to develop so he is capable of expanding his range of vision.

2. Hearing

How It Develops:

  • Hearing develops in the womb, allowing your baby to familiarize itself with your voice.
  • Newborns are very sensitive to sound changes so loud noises may startle them, though they will not be bothered by this while they are sleeping.
  • Your child will be distracted by background noise at first, but by six months he should be able to focus on speech and try to replicate it.

How to Aid:

Babies prefer high pitched sounds, so use these when communicating, but avoid loud noises that could hurt your baby’s ears. Take your baby for a hearing test within his first month to check for potential hearing problems. Watch for hearing and speech developments as well. If your child does not respond to sound or mimic speech by 7 months, there could be a developmental problem.

3. Smell

How It Develops:

  • Babies have a strong sense of smell from birth. Within a week they are able to identify different people by their scent.
  • Much of the sense of smell is associated with food. Babies are capable of smelling the difference between formula and breast milk.
  • By 3-4 months a child may smell his mother when she checks on baby during the night, which could cause him to wake and want to be fed.

How to Aid:

Since smell is a predominant sense in a baby, you can use a sense of smell to soothe your child. Offering your child a piece of clothing that smells like you or filling his room with comforting scents like lavender can help him sleep.

4. Taste

How It Develops:

  • Babies have a strong preference for sweet over bitter or sour.
  • By 4 months they will start to develop a taste for salt or spiciness.
  • Studies indicate that babies can pick up on different flavors in the mother’s breast milk.

How to Aid:

Picky eating is common in babies. Eating a variety of foods when you are pregnant and breastfeeding can help babies get used to different flavors and broaden their appetites. Keep introducing new foods to get your baby to try them. Focusing on healthy eating at a young age can also help good habits develop over time.

5. Touch

How It Develops:

  • Touch is very developed at birth to assist in the process of baby bonding with parents.
  • Babies love to be cuddled or swaddled because this replicates the comfort of the womb.
  • Babies love to explore using touch and prefer to use their mouth for this purpose. This is why babies try to put most things in their mouth.

How to Aid:

Be gentle when massaging or touching a baby because his skin is quite sensitive. Touch is very comforting to your child, so holding your baby next to you can help to regulate body temperature or breathing. Keeping your child in an upright position in a cloth carrier can make him feel secure, and swaddling him while he is resting can help him sleep by replicating the womb.

Tips on Aiding Sensory Development

Sensory development can help your child develop in a way that will help your child overcome hurdles he might be facing. In order to manage this, you will need to understand a few things about the process.

  • Do not start the process with an overwhelming amount of knowledge to begin with. This will only cause irritation and frustration.
  • Try to help your child understand things that appear to be hindering his ability to explore the world.
  • Try to draw the line between caring for your child and being overprotective. Let your child explore without setting boundaries that will limit his desire or capability to do so.
  • Think about the world from your child’s point of view before you start to explain things. You need to work to understand your child so he is eventually mature enough to understand you.

To learn more about the 5 senses for infants, watch the video below: