- Senses such as sound begin to develop before birth.
- Many of these senses are not matured yet.
- Fully developed in newborns.
- Moms may feel their babies kick or respond to loud noises.
- Babies often get a hearing test when they are born in the hospital.
- Babies prefer higher-pitched tones such as mom’s compared to lower-pitched tones such as dads.
- Newborn babies cannot see very well.
- Eyes are not well-coordinated.
- May be cross eyed.
- Babies can only focus up close, about 8-10 inches.
- Parents should get up close to their baby when interacting with them to bond.
- Takes about 2 to 3 years for a baby to develop their 20/20 vision.
- Babies can better distinguish contrast (such as black and white) compared to colors.
- Babies are believed to have a strong sense of smell, such as for their mother.
- Studies have shown babies to be able to distinguish between breastmilk and formula.
- Seems that babies can recognize the smell of their familiar caregivers.
- Babies prefer sweet compared to sour or bitter.
- Babies prefer breastmilk over formula.
- Babies cannot taste salty flavors.
- Babies loved to be cuddled, held, swaddled, and comforted by touch.
- Swaddling is considered safe for SIDS because babies can be put on their back and they are not able to roll over.
- Babies respond to rocking motions.
- Can be calmed by them.
- Newborns may enjoy car rides.
- Thinking about a baby’s senses helps you to understand their skills.
- Newborns have their rooting and sucking reflexes to help grow.
- Learn to coordinate the suck-swallow breathing pattern.
- Sucking strength is not strong.
- Can drink exclusively breastmilk or formula.
- Should not be fed water as it can cause an electrolyte imbalance.
- May nurse every 2-3 hours.
- Newborns need help with burping the air out.
Bowel and Bladder
- Incontinent and pee or poop in their diapers.
- Total assist from caregivers.
- Cry or not cry.
- Don’t intentionally start to smile yet.
- Need full support while being held.
- On their backs, they may stay there and move their arms and legs with uncoordinated movements.
- When propped up to sit or for burping, newborns tend to kick into extensor tone and straighten out.
- Newborns can begin belly time, but won’t be able to really lift their neck up or use their arms to push from the surface.
- Movement for newborns are primarily driven by their reflex patterns, which are present at birth.
Newborn Reflex Patterns
Reflexes present at birth
- Rooting – the head turns when side of mouth is touched.
- Sucking – sucking occurs when lips are touched by nipple or finger.
- Arms and legs
- Palmar and plantar grasp – fingers and toes flex when touched.
- Stepping – alternating steps when supported upright with some weight on the feet.
- Moro Reflex – when the baby is tipped back and their arms extend, they abduct out and then flex afterward with adduction.
- Placing of arms and legs – hand and legs flex and then extend when they are placed on a tabletop.
- Tonic Labryinthine – when the baby is on their back and their head tilts back, it causes them to stiffen up and arch backwards.
- These reflexes generally fade beginning at 2 to 3 months.