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Understanding Sensory Development in Babies

sensory toys

Studies have shown that a baby develops faster during their first year than at any other time. Newborn babies do not have fully developed senses so as parents, itís our responsibility to offer support and provide ways to improve and stimulate their senses like having them play with sensory toys.

Babies learn about the world around them by using their senses. From recognising sounds to smelling, babies figure out their surroundings with sight and touch. Their senses start to develop a few weeks after they were born. In 7-8 weeks of gestation, their sense of touch begins to develop and at around 20 weeks, taste buds develop and by 23 weeks, they can already detect the sounds from the outside world. Incredible!

Sense of touch

For parents of a newborn baby, the sense of touch will be the first way to communicate with your child. Infants love skin to skin contact. Youíll notice that touching them calms them down which is why itís highly recommended to always keep them close to you. Even at a very young age, a baby enjoys being stroked and touched. You might also notice that a gentle touch is one of the best ways of soothing a baby. Did you know that levels of oxytocin are boosted in skin to skin contact with the baby? Amazing, right? Babywearing using wraps and slings have become popular recently because of the benefits it provides and make a baby feel secured and tucked.

Babies definitely love a gentle massage. They also take delight in touching different textures or the sensation of being in a warm bath. As a baby grows and gets bigger, their muscles also develop. They start to reach out and grab things and use their hands and mouths to explore.

Sense of hearing

Newborns fully develop their sense of hearing when they are born. The same senses are also used to communicate and make sense of the world. Even at around 12, the childís parts of the brain that interpret and attach meaning to sounds continue to develop.

From the moment your child is born, take delight in talking, reading and singing. This way, it will help their development. By the time they get bigger, they will try to mimic noises and will be happier around noisy toys. Example, the traditional rattles and crinkly toys will be great for a baby as she learns about cause and effect.

Visual stimulation

The least developed at birth among all the senses is the sense of sight. But, it is the most powerful way for a baby to take in information about the world around them. When they reach 6-8 month, they can see pretty much the same as adults do.

However, a baby canít focus on more than a foot away from their faces. It is much better to get in close and let them explore your face. Babies also struggle in distinguishing similar colors so it is best to use high contrast patterns in black and white. This will surely get the most of their attention.

A couple months after birth, a baby will be more appealing to bright primary colors. Their perception becomes good enough at around 4 months. This time, they can locate an object and make a grab for it. Babies at around 3-4 months will also be able to track objects that move in front of their faces. They will also follow your face or a toy with their eyes. Impressive!

Taste and smell

Outstandingly, by the time your baby is born, the taste and smell, which are closely connected, are pretty well developed. They use their sense of smell to seek out the bottle or the boob. In the same way, they will already recognise your smell.

Babies that are breastfed will normally taste the difference in their milk depending on what you have eaten. Amazingly, all newborns can find strong smells that are overpowering. Some cases, to the point where they will not feed as the scent is particularly strong.

RELATED: Sensory Activities for Babies

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