The newborn senses: What can babies hear, see, smell or feel

baby senses developmentHow do a newborn baby’s senses compare? In the first months after birth, babies do not perceive colors like adults do, and their vision is blurred. They have a different perception of background noise and communicate through their own response mechanisms. Here’s what we need to know about sensory and cognitive development in babies:

Baby’s Vision:

Immediately after birth, the baby sees shapes, but they are vague and at a distance of 20-30 cm (which is also the distance between the baby and the face of the one who feeds them). They are attracted to moving oval shapes and bright colors. They show special interest in human faces, especially the mother’s face.

The Baby’s Hearing:

Hearing is more developed than sight. The baby can hear even in the mother’s womb and hear all the sounds of the mother’s body. The mother’s voice is heard best. People who take care of the child should keep in mind that the child is experiencing separation from the mother and may be restless when hearing an unfamiliar voice.

Baby’s Taste Characteristics:

Babies can recognize tastes such as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter within the first few hours after birth. What the mother consumed during pregnancy is important for the formation of tastes.

Baby’s Sense of Smell:

The nasal system consists of at least 4 subsystems, and it is believed that the amniotic fluid, passing through the baby’s oral and nasal cavity, stimulates the senses.

Baby’s Sense of Touch:

Babies are sensitive to touch – some touches soothe them, while others irritate them. It is important for caregivers to respond to their wishes and gradually get to know their reactions, which strengthens the relationship with them.

Signals and Methods of Communication in Babies:


From the first days after birth, gaze is a very important means of communication. Some babies look more, some less. However, every baby and toddler has a need to hide from the gaze of others at some point. Curtains over the bed or cradle can help with this. Being isolated from the gaze of others helps the baby to sleep peacefully.


In just a few weeks, smiling becomes a means of communicating and sharing positive emotions.


Crying is the most common means of communication for newborns. Through crying, a baby can signal their various needs and release tension to better organize their situations. Crying directly affects others’ emotions, and although it can be unpleasant, it is useful.

Mothers quickly learn to interpret their baby’s cries and distinguish between cries of boredom, hunger, or pain. They speak to their child, and the child communicates back by crying.

Tactile contact

Tactile contact refers to holding, cuddling, touching, and caressing a baby, and how the baby responds to these actions. Babies can actively participate in this communication, indicating whether they want contact or not, and if they are relaxed or tense. They may even use gestures to refuse contact, such as placing a toy in front of their face or kicking during diaper changes.

It is essential to observe changes in the baby’s facial tone and color when holding or playing with them. Hypertonicity and redness in the face may indicate excessive excitement and tension, signaling a need to reduce physical contact and calm the baby.

When touching a baby, caregivers should avoid sensitive areas of the body, such as the chin, armpits, inner thighs, and lower abdomen, as touching these areas may overstimulate the baby.


Experts advise parents and caregivers to talk to their baby, as they are not only a living body but also a speaking being. The baby’s future language development depends on those who care for them and introduce them to the symbolic world of language. When meeting a baby’s needs, caregivers provide both their language and presence.

Pediatricians have observed that babies between 3 and 6 months of age can be calmed by speaking to them in a relatively monotonous voice. Using an overly emotional tone or speaking too harshly can make them cry.

Interestingly, even very young babies can recognize their mother’s voice among other female voices that say the same thing. Speaking calmly to a baby can give them a sense of security and soothe them without the need for physical touch. Daily care activities, such as feeding, changing, and bathing, offer essential moments and opportunities for communication with the baby.

Overall, the first months after birth are crucial for a baby’s sensory and cognitive development.

Caregivers should provide a supportive and nurturing environment that enables babies to learn and grow. By understanding a baby’s unique perception of the world, caregivers can better communicate with them and foster healthy development.

Follow on Facebook