OUR INSTITUTES: CANCER | HEART | NEUROSCIENCE | ORTHOPAEDICS
 
 

Pediatric Health Library :: Pediatric Health Library Topics
Share |
Printer Friendly
HEALTHY NEWBORN :: Normal Newborn Behaviors and Activities

Newborn - Senses

The senses of a newborn:

Babies are born fully equipped with all the necessary senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, some of these senses are less precise than others. Below are some of the ways newborn babies express their senses:

  • vision
    A newborn's eyes are a little more than half the size of an adult's eyes. They grow the most in the first year, then slowly grow until puberty. Most Caucasian babies have light gray or blue eye color, but this often changes by 6 months of age. Over the first few months, babies may have uncoordinated eye movements and may even appear cross-eyed. Babies are born with the ability to focus only at close range - about 8 to 10 inches or the distance between a mother's face to the baby in her arms. Babies are able to follow or track an object in the first few weeks. Focus improves over the first two to three years of life to a normal 20/20 vision. Newborns can detect light and dark but cannot see all colors. This is why many baby books and infant stimulation toys have distinct black and white patterns.

  • hearing
    During pregnancy many mothers find that the baby may kick or jump in response to loud noises and quiet with soft, soothing music. Hearing is fully developed in newborns. Babies with normal hearing should startle in response to loud sounds, pay quiet attention to the mother's voice, and briefly stop moving when sound at a conversational level is begun. Newborns seem to prefer a higher-pitched voice (the mother's) to a low sounding voice (males). They also have an ability to tune out loud noises after hearing them several times.

    It is estimated that serious hearing loss occurs in about one to three of every 1,000 healthy newborns. Without screening or testing, hearing loss may not be noticed until the baby is more than 1 year old. If hearing loss is not detected until later years, there will not be stimulation of the brain's hearing centers. This can affect the maturation and development of hearing, and can delay speech and language. Social and emotional development and success in school may also be affected. It is now recommended that all newborns be screened for hearing loss before leaving the hospital.

  • taste
    Taste buds begin forming early in fetal development. It is known that babies prefer sweet tastes over sour or bitter tastes. Babies also show a strong preference for breast milk and breastfeeding, especially after the first few months.

  • smell
    The brain's olfactory (smell) center forms very early in fetal development. Studies have found that newborns have a keen sense of smell. Within the first few days they will show a preference for the smell of their own mother, especially to her breast milk.

  • touch
    Throughout the last months of pregnancy, a baby is snugly cocooned in the uterus, with arms and legs tucked. At birth, babies are suddenly thrust into a bright, cold world, where their arms and legs can suddenly move freely. This new freedom can make babies frantic and they may flail and thrash about. Placing a hand on the baby's abdomen, or cuddling close can help a baby feel more secure. Swaddling (wrapping snugly in a blanket) is another technique for babies who need to feel tucked and secure. Some mothers find their babies respond and calm when they are "worn" in a sling or carrier. This may be helpful for colicky or high-need babies. Holding a baby for feedings is also important. Breastfeeding ensures that a baby spends several hours in mother's arms.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Normal Newborn

GR_ATP

It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
PEDIATRIC HEALTH LIBRARY
HEALTHY NEWBORN HOME
TOPIC INDEX
CONDITIONS
RESOURCES
GLOSSARY
RELATED LINKS:
FIND SPECIALISTS
ARTICLES
STORIES
NEWS
UPCOMING EVENTS
VIDEO
spacer

Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Instagram  Foursquare  LinkedIn  YouTube  RSS  CHOC Blog

US News     CAPE Award   Magnet      Beacon Award      Most Trusted Brand     Leapfrog

chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .