Newborns never cease to make humans wonder at the miracle of nature. These little bundles of joy come into the world seemingly helpless and defenseless. Many wonder whether the infants are born with all their five senses fully activated. Studies show that infants possess all the five senses, i.e. touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste, quite adequately for their size and needs.
1. Touch (Feel) – before birth, a baby is floating in the amniotic fluid of their mother’s womb. At that time the sense of touch is not very important. Once a baby is born however, the situation changes drastically. For one thing, the baby gets to know different textures against its skin, i.e. the hands of the doctor or the person who helps in delivery, the mother’s touch as she breastfeeds, the touch of cloth nappies. At birth a baby will feel disoriented because of all the new feelings and sensations being experienced for the first time. This is why swaddling a baby snugly in a blanket or holding him tightly against the mother is calming and reassuring.
2. Sight (Vision) – In pre-born stages babies usually have their eyes closed. Babies are able to see immediately after birth but can only bring into focus objects that are at close range, not more than 10 to 15 inches away. They can see objects further away than that but cannot bring them into focus. In the first few weeks after birth a baby’s eye movements will seem uncoordinated and uncontrolled. Babies are unable differentiate between colors until they are a few months old; however, they can follow a moving object and their focus range does improve rapidly. Within two years, the baby should have a perfect 20/20 vision.
3. Hearing – babies are born with a fully developed sense of hearing. All mothers are aware of this since babies can wake up at the slightest noise. You will notice that babies clearly responds to their mother’s pacifying voice, get startled at loud noises and can have an aversion to male voices. It is imperative to be alert regarding the hearing capacity of a baby. Deficiencies, unless carefully investigated might be neglected until the baby is a year or so old. This in turn could affect the baby’s speech and learning abilities.
4. Smell – a baby’s sense of smell is fully functional at birth. Many studies have shown that babies recognize and are pacified by the smell of their mother. They also readily recognize the smell of their mother’s breast milk.
5. Taste – most babies prefer sweet taste to salty, sour or bitter taste. Their taste buds are fully developed. they prefer breast milk to any other milk and show preference to sweetened over unsweetened milk.