Erica Silverman will never forget her reaction to holding her son for the first time, just seconds after he was born. I was amazed to see Oren go from crying to calm after our skin-to-skin contact,” says the Charlotte, N.C., mother. . According to experts, Oren’s reaction was typical. Like all babies, he is born with well-developed senses that help him adapt to his new environment. When he inhaled his mother’s scent, felt the warmth of her body and heard her whisper “hello” (a familiar sound he heard in the womb), Oren was immediately comforted. We have the impression that babies are helpless, but they absorb a lot of information with their senses to connect with their caregivers and explore things around them,” says Dr. Lise Elliott, “What’s going on there? : How the brain and mind develop during the first five years of life. Learn how your child’s senses progress in the womb and during the first year, and how you can help them.
Line of sight
The developing baby: In late gestation, the fetus can detect bright lights in the womb. According to a study published in the Journal of Developmental Psychobiology, during the last two months, enough natural light may penetrate to allow him to see the movements of his hands and legs due to factors such as the thickness of the mother-to-be’s fat, the thickness of her muscles and the thickness of her clothes.
Newborn: He has blurred vision and sees best from 10 inches away (the approximate distance from your face when he is nursing). High-contrast hues, including black and white patterns and primary color palettes, fascinate him.
Two months: Dr. Deborah Orel-Bixler, a professor of clinical optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, says he can stare steadily at moving objects, such as a rotating cell phone. In another month, he’ll begin to focus on objects 10 feet away, though he still can’t make out details.
5 months: His eye and body coordination is improving. Notice the way he looks at things?
Around 6 months: He can focus at any distance and is mastering the concept of depth perceptionーーwhen you push him in front of the swing, he “gets” that the bigger you look, the closer you are to him.
12 months: His vision is almost as good as an adult.
Help him develop his vision by:
Holding him close and showing him the contrast on your face – your dark pupils against the whites of your eyes, your hairline or the lipstick next to your skin (if you have dark skin, wear bright lipstick; if you have fair skin, wear dark lipstick).
Put him on a colored mat with a mirror when he’s hungry (try the Whoozit mirror from Manhattan Toy, www.manhattantoy.com ). He’ll be mesmerized by his own beauty and will love the colorful borders.
Strengthen his hand-eye coordination with rhythmic hand games, such as patting cakes and “opening and closing them”
Developing baby: In late pregnancy, your baby can detect smells from the food you eat and inhale them through your amniotic fluid, says Dr. Elliott. Yes, she smells the chili dogs you make.
Newborn: She has a keen sense of smell and can recognize comforting odors coming from your breasts and armpits, according to a study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. When your baby smells you, she may turn her head toward your breast, start moving her mouth (as if nursing), or stop crying, says Dr. Joy Browne, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical School. Breastfed babies may even “pick up” their mom’s scent faster than bottle-fed babies because they are held next to her more often.
Help her develop her sense of smell by:
Dr. Marcia Levin-Pelchart, a sensory psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, suggests exposing her to a variety of smells and telling her what she smells. Here are some examples of safe household items and objects to put under her nose ーー just make sure she doesn’t inhale or come in contact with harsh spices like mustard, powdered mustard, paprika or pepper, all of which can create a burning sensation in the back of her nose.
Spices and seasonings (vanilla extract, cinnamon, paprika)
Developing babies: At about 20 weeks, your unborn child can begin to detect sounds. According to a study published in New Horizons, the online journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in the noisy womb, he may hear a confused version of your voice even more distinctly than your thumping heart. In late pregnancy, you may feel a change in his response to outside sounds. According to a study published in Developmental Science, abdominal ultrasounds showed that 35-week-old fetuses moved their bodies more frequently when researchers played recordings of Bram’s lullabies.
Newborn: He remembers sounds in the womb, like your voice and songs he’s heard (now there’s a Lady Gaga fan?) , according to research published in the Newborn and Infant Care Review. Susan H. Landry, professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said the study was published in the Newborn and Infant Care Review. Dr. Susan h. Landry, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, says research shows that he can distinguish between different sounds, such as “ba” and “da,” and that he turns his attention to surrounding sounds, such as a shaking rattle.
3 months: The baby may try to replicate the sounds he hears by cooing, such as “ahhhh” and “ehhhh.
5 months: The excitement of hearing his own voice and your reaction may turn him into a chattering machine.
Around 8 months: He understands the meaning of many of the words he hears, and as he slowly approaches 1, your child will be able to say some of them, even if they don’t quite connect (e.g., “mil” for “milk”).
Help him develop his sound senses:
Play music with toy instruments, such as the Hohner Children’s Sinfonia’s Bottle Shaker and Rattlesnake.
Dr. Landry suggests reading picture books and telling him what he is looking at so he can associate words with objects. When he is about 8 or 9 months old, ask him if he can point to things on the page (“Where is that bird? Can you point it out to me? “). This exercise will help improve his speech skills.
Developing baby: Studies show that the fetal mouth begins to develop at about 7 weeks, according to Allen w. Gottfried, Ph.D., professor of psychology in the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Research University, in Claremont. At 14 weeks old, most of a baby’s head is sensitive to touch.
Newborns: There’s nothing newborns like more than skin-to-skin contact. Researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville found that premature babies who share their mothers’ bare breasts (sometimes called “kangaroo care”) may breathe better, cry less and breastfeed longer. Dr. Tiffany Felder, director of the Tactile Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida, said children are able to recognize differences in the texture, shape and weight of objects as soon as they are born. During the first few months, babies explore mostly by mouth.
6 months: You’ll see her little hands grasping anything within reach, which helps her understand them.
6 to 9 months: Once she starts to crawl, she will be able to choose what she touches (you may notice your pet starting to avoid curious hands).
Help your baby develop a sense of touch by:
transporting her in a stroller rather than a pramーーshe craves closeness.
Giving her a massage
Lay out different textured itemsーーsquare rugs, stacked cups, wet and soft bath toys, foam shapes, moderately frosted paperーーand describe each item as she touches them for a fun tactile experience
Developing baby: The fetus’ taste buds begin to form around seven weeks in utero. In mid-pregnancy, your unborn child may begin to taste the delicious buffet in the amniotic fluid.
Newborn: Your infant has an undeniably sweet tooth and welcomes breast milk and formula, both of which contain sugar. A study of 3- to 12-month-old infants, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that babies don’t like sour and bitter flavors.
4 months: He likes salty flavors. According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center, these natural taste preferences can vary from person to person, depending on the foods he is exposed to. Breastfed babies may be more receptive to a variety of tastes because they are used to the ever-changing flavors of breast milk (garlic one day, mint the next).
Help your baby develop a sense of taste by:
Sitting your baby at the table so he can watch you eat. Dr. Pelchat says the more he sees you enjoying your food, for example, by saying “yum” after you take a bite, the more open he will be to trying new foods.
Once you start giving your baby solids, you can say to him, “Oh, great, give me more,” and then eat some of what he’s eating so he’s not willing to try something new. You’re showing him that you think the food is good and he may eventually want to try it.
Introduce spicy foods slowly. You can mix rice with a drop of light curry sauce, or add a little seasoning to Mexican-style enchiladas and add it slowly. By promoting a pleasant eating experience, you are increasing the odds that he will have an adventurous palate.