Newborn Facts For Parents

If you’re a new parent, you’ve spent the last two to three weeks up to your weary elbows in spit-up and poop. And it might be hard for you to grasp through your exhaustion but your little reflexive newborn has many amazing skills.

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Newborn Development: The 5 Senses

At birth, your baby’s five senses, sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell are nearly complete. 

Your Baby’s Vision 

  • Infants explore their environment with their eyes before their hands and feet.
  • They can only focus for a distance of  10 to 12 inches. However, you unconsciously adjust to your baby’s limited field of vision by bending over close to the baby’s face or bringing the baby close to your face. 
  •  For the first six months, your newborn’s visual acuity range is 20/400 to 20/600, making them legally blind in most states. However, their poor vision helps protect babies from overstimulation. 
  • At birth, your newborn sees the difference between dark and light
  • Your baby doesn’t see colors, but sees the world in black, gray and white. However, at two-weeks old he or she will stare longer at certain colors, which indicates that babies distinguish  color.
  • The first color your baby sees is, blue followed by, red, yellow, and green. And by 6-months your baby’s color perception is the same as yours.
  • Babies like to focus on high contrast objects. Black and white photos with contrasting patterns or images, also called infant stimulation cards, are easy for your infant to focus on and can encourage their vision development. You can post these cards throughout your home where your child can see them or even create a mobile with them.
  • Babies like looking at faces. When they’re one month, they scan the areas of a face with the most contrast, hairlines, angels and edges. At, two- three months of age, your child will track the traits of your the face such as your pleasing smile or engaging eyes.
  • At five-eight months your baby develops depth perception and can tell the difference between strange and familiar faces. Also. they develop the ability to concentrate on objects for long periods of time.

amazing facts about newborns

Newborn Babies Hearing

  • Your baby’s auditory system was up and running from 5 months gestational age. A fetus can hear loud noises and may hear normal conversational sounds.
  • If you’re tiptoeing around the house while your baby’s napping, stop. Your newborns auditory system protects them from overstimulation, and he or she has a high threshold for noise. Around six months of age, the auditory shield begins decreasing.
  • Your newborn can tell the difference between loud and soft sounds and high and low ones. Around two months of age, familiar voices and vowel sound like, “ah, and oh”, will quiet your baby.
  • At six months of age your baby will respond to his or name and begin to babble.
  • Babies like white noise, like the sound of a vacuum cleaner and the hum of a fan. Also, they love music, especially lullabies and-and sing-song voices. 
  • Inform your pediatrician If your baby doesn’t respond to very loud noise with a startled reaction or never, turns his head to the sound of your voice.

newborn babies

What Your Baby Tastes And Smells

  • Infants use touch to learn about their environment. Your gentle touch not only soothes your baby but helps them grow. “Nurturing touch releases growth hormones,” explains Duke University researcher Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D. “In infants who are deprived of that touch, the genes that react to these hormones shut down.”
  • Gently massaging your baby has been shown to reduce levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. Researchers at the University of Minnesota discovered that babies who were given twice-weekly massages over a six-week period tended to be less irritable and to sleep more soundly than other babies.
  • Use your own touch to communicate your love. Massage your baby by gently kneading his arms, legs, hands, and feet. Or calm him by cradling him in your arms. Feeling the warmth of your skin and the gentleness of your caress is the easiest, most natural way for your infant to bond with you.
  • Within the first week of life a newborn is capable of recognizing the scent of his own mother. One study showed that at 5 days old, babies could smell the difference between a breast pad that had been used by their mother and a new pad. Formula-fed babies have also exhibited the ability to distinguish their mother’s odor from other scents. “The sense of smell is very important for infant bonding,” says UCLA’s Dr. Kellman.
  • At birth, a baby is capable of detecting three of the four main tastes: sweet, sour, and bitter. Of these, most babies show a marked preference for sweet tastes, says Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D., director and president of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia.
  • The one basic taste a newborn can’t perceive is salt. “If you were to give a newborn salty water, he would drink as much as he would plain water,” says Dr. Kellman. Researchers suspect that the salt receptors on the tongue develop after birth, probably by 4 months.
  • Researchers are not aware of what, if anything, can be done to enhance a baby’s budding olfactory senses. However, parents can discover any sensitivities a baby might have by gauging her reactions to the smells and tastes she’s exposed to. If you are breast-feeding, you may notice that the foods you eat affect your baby’s sucking. As your baby gets older and begins to eat solid foods, you can expose her to different flavors to see if she exhibits any preferences. parents.com

baby sense of taste

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By | 2017-07-06T11:29:26+00:00 |Categories: Motherhood|Tags: , , , , |
  • William Rusho

    Nice post and fact. I have to admit I am totally ignorant on the topic since I have no children of my own. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tatia

    Wow these are very interesting baby facts Pamela . It’s remarkable how their senses kick in so early on. By the way, the pictures are too funny.

    • Babies middle names should be, “Remarkable” Tatia! They’re like 6 -9 pounds of infinite potential.

  • These baby sensory development facts are fascinating, especially so as I’ve spent scant amounts of time with little ones. I found the facts about vision development most interesting. Lack of vision acuity as a way to prevent over-stimulation makes so much sense, though I’d never thought about it. How wonderful to be tiny and developing one’s senses. Adults are well-served to try to experience the world through a child’s eyes.

    • I love that babies are filled with the, “awe” of EVERYTHING around them.

  • MinaJoshi5409

    Very interesting baby facts. I do remember reading some of those from the magazines they used to give us during anti natal classes. So glad mine have grown up as bringing up babies sounds like hard work to me now.

  • This was really interesting and I have a question. Do all first-time parents receive this information when their baby is born? How helpful that would be. The tiptoeing part and also the massaging are things that many parents (I was one of them) wouldn’t know. I think it’s amazing how much has been learned about infant development over the last number of years. Great stuff.

    • that’s a great question Lenie. I didn’t receive any information with either of my children. My sense is most new parents these days hit the internet when they have questions or concerns. The trick is not to wait until the baby arrives to gather some basic facts.

      • The problem with the Internet is that not all information is accurate and can steer parents down the wrong path – Like you, I never received any information – it was just assumed you knew and left us to learn by trial and error.

        • A checklist to use for accurate information on would be a great post Lenie. I can’t tell you how often my head explodes reading some of the advice columns online.

  • This is so interesting Pamela. I remember reading some of these facts when my kids were babies, but had since forgotten. I find it amusing that babies have a natural sweet tooth. Guess I just never out grew mine!

    • I remember when my daughter was small and I was weaning off the bottle she carried around with her, She didn’t want to give it up and told me, “No! It taste sweet”!

  • This was fascinating. The fact that babies can taste of salt is something I never would have thought. I did know they could detect color. There is so much going on at birth up to puberty, it is an amazing thing to watch. 🙂

    • The extent of physiological changes that occur in only two years is incredible.

  • It was always my opinion that babies taste buds mature slowly and that once they start eating solid food they especially enjoy stuff with a storing taste. So I gave my son things like pickles and chili and mangoes at a pretty early age, much to the chagrin of those around me. Didn’t seem to do any harm and he did in fact enjoy it.

  • Tim

    Really interesting. I have a friend who just had a baby and reading your article made me realize the subconscious things I do around her. Like holding her close. I didn’t know she can only see 12 inches but that’s pretty amazing that we have these instincts and we do it without thinking.

    • There are instinctual adaptive behaviors, we “somehow” know. Jung referred to the phenonomen as, the collective unconscious

  • When my kids were babies, I used to do message therapy on their back. There was a book that described how to do it. I can’t recall the name right now but it was a great mommy and me time. Thanks for sharing. I will share with my new parents family and friends.

  • This is really fascinating. I never knew that babies don’t perceive the taste of salt. And I also didn’t know that babies don’t see color. It is amazing to think of what development takes place that we can’t actually see happening.

    • It’s a miracle, especially when you think about how it all began!

  • Catarina Alexon

    How they distinguish between familiar and unknown faces can give interesting, or awful if you wish, results.

    When my niece was about half a year old my sister was in a shopping center with her. There were quite a few Africans and my niece was crying and absolutely petrified constantly. They had to leave because it was embarrassing that she was alarmed and started crying out load every time a coloured person was near her.

    • I had a similar experience. When my son was a baby and my brother visited donning a beard! My son was petrified.

  • Phoenicia

    Thank you for sharing this Pamela.

    Babies are actually quite complex. We can never really learn all there is to know about them. They crave love, comfort and belonging – all these things put them in good stead for childhood and adult life.

    My children were not alarmed by loud noises such as the hoover or hairdryer. In fact, they enjoyed helping me to hoover the floors!

  • Very interesting. The post brought back many pleasant memories of my daughter (now 27) as a baby. The white noise comment was particularly fascinating. I remember cleaners cleaning my house and vacuuming under the crib in her room while she slept soundly in it.

    • Donna, writing this series brings back a lot of wonderful memories for me as well.

  • This is a super interesting post, Pamela. Thx so much for sharing. I had no idea that babies don’t see colour at both, and they they slowly distinguish different colours. Fascinating!

  • Jacqueline Gum

    This is fascinating! I assumed that babies could see color right away, and I had no idea about the salt thing. Loving this entire series Pamela!

  • Lea

    Hi Pamela,

    These are some really amazing facts about newborns. I had no idea babies developed colors one at a time. I guess you just think they come out of the womb thinking that they see has you do.

    So good to hear that babies have a high threshold for noise. The first few months can be an adjust and knowing that your newborn can take a little commotion makes the adjustment easier.

    Really interesting facts. I’m sure a lot of new parents will find them helpful and assuring.

    ~Lea

    • Thank you Lea,new parents need all the support and factual information they can get : )

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