Your baby’s amazing senses

What happens as your newborn makes sense of the world



After birth, your baby’s pupils will be dilated and his eyes will be wide open as he takes in the world around him. He is able to see light, shapes and movement, but it will all be a little blurry. He can see contrasts, like black and white, and objects up to 25cm away most clearly – perfect for focusing on your face when he’s in your arms.


In those early days, gazing at your little one and keeping eye contact with him is a great way to develop your bond. He likes looking at human faces most, and prefers smiling faces to grumpy ones!



Hearing is the only sense to develop fully before birth, so your little one can hear even while he’s in the womb. By the time he is born, he’s able to recognise not only your voice, but also your partner’s and any music that you played to him while you were pregnant. Your newborn is used to the soothing sound of your heartbeat, so loud and sudden noises might upset him to begin with. He prefers human voices to any other sounds, and likes high-pitched voices most of all.



Your newborn has an acute sense of smell. He can recognise you by your natural scent within 45 hours of being born. Five-day-old babies turn their heads towards the smell of breastmilk and by 10 days old, babies have been shown to prefer the smell of their own mother’s breastmilk to that of another woman’s. No one is sure how sensitive newborns are to other smells, but studies show they react to strong odours like vinegar.



At birth, babies have a lot more taste buds than adults. They cover not only the tongue, but also the roof and sides of their mouths. From a very early age, your little one can distinguish between tastes – and will prefer sweet. Your baby’s tastes will continue to develop throughout the first year of his life, but for now, he is very happy with breastmilk or formula.



Your baby’s skin is 10 times more sensitive than yours, so he loves being touched. After leaving the comfort of the womb, your little one is easily soothed by soft textures and reassuring hugs. Try stroking him with a clean make-up brush, cotton wool ball or soft blanket, or blowing gently on his skin. Your newborn is learning and developing with every touch, and nothing makes him happier than snuggling up close to you.

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