Newborns have a tremendous capacity to use their senses to communicate, learn about the world around them and tell us their needs. All of a baby’s senses are working when they are born.
- The touch of skin-to-skin for almost all babies is enjoyable and important for their development. Skin-to-skin contact will comfort and relax a newborn. The skin of a newborn is very sensitive to texture, moisture, pressure and temperature. Most of the time, newborns will keep their hands fisted, but will respond to the feeling of an object on their palm by grasping onto it. Try giving your baby a gentle massage.
- In the early days, many newborns will “squint” their eyes, but this disappears gradually as babies gain muscle control around their eyes. A newborn is able to focus on objects 20-25cms away – the perfect distance between a baby and their caregiver during a feeding. Young babies love to look at your face.
- Newborns will respond to smells. Within a few hours after birth, babies know the smell of their mothers and mothers can tell their own babies by smell. Smell is the fastest of the senses to develop.
- Infants hear and react to sound, even before they are born. While inside the womb, your baby heard his mother’s heartbeat, her voice and other sounds. At birth, babies are tuned into the human voice. For some babies, those familiar sounds will be soothing (such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or certain music.) Newborns will also respond with a startle to loud and unfamiliar sounds.