Baby Sensory Development
Mums and Tots|Issue 31 - Summer 2019

Some of the most important findings about the development of baby’s senses in the first year.

Dr Lin Day (PHD, M.PHIL, PGCE, BSC, DIP ED)

The learning ability of a baby in the first 12 months after the birth is phenomenal. Throughout the first year, the brain goes through a process of development and specialisation unlike any other time in life. The potential for learning lies in providing conditions that enable babies to develop fully, being aware of the different stages of development that they pass through, observing them to find out how to build on their experiences, and experimenting with different textures, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. In so doing, babies are given the best possible opportunity to learn about the world while they are still sensitive and absorbent. From birth, there is a massive burst of synapse formation, which peaks at about 3 months. With these new connections come many milestones, such as face recognition, colour vision, smiling and greater control and use of the hands.

Touch

Soft lighting and soothing music ensure that the first sensory experiences are as tranquil as possible. After this, contact may be with the mother who reassures the baby that the world is a warm and comforting place to be. Research increasingly supports the fact that skin-to-skin contact heightens sensory awareness and triggers the production of endorphins (chemicals that bring about feelings of happiness). Through the sense of touch, the brain builds up interconnecting circuits within and between the motor cortex of the cerebrum, which governs action, and the frontal lobes responsible for logical thinking.

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