Senses are an integral part of development. There are seven senses in our body (touch, smell, sight, hear, taste, movement and balance). At eight weeks of gestational age the sensory system begins to develop.
Touch is the first sense to develop in the womb. It is through touch that mother and baby are able to communicate with each other. Development of touch receptors starts from the face, lips and nose. They develop up to the palms and foot at 12 weeks and abdominal area by 17 weeks. By the mid third-trimester babies have a full range of sensation as they can feel cold, hot, pressure and pain.
New -borns are able to explore different textures around them through touch. The skin of a new born is highly sensitive. The grasping reflex bears testimony to how quick they are to respond to touch.
At 1 month of age babies are able to turn towards the source of touch. By 2-3 months of age they are able to respond to friendly touch and enjoy it. Babies are also able to hold an object when given to them.
Taste is the second sense which develops in the womb by the 9 week and fully develops by 13-14 week of gestational age. Scans show that babies are able to suck or swallow a small amount of amniotic fluids by the second trimester.
After birth till 3 months of age they can distinguish between sweet and sour taste. Babies have more taste buds than adults; which are even present on their tonsils, back of the throat and tongue.
Hearing is an essential sense which is associated with balance and movement of the body. By 18 weeks, babies are able to hear their first sound. By 24 weeks, ears grow rapidly and sensitivity towards sounds increases as the weeks pass.
Babies are able to listen to every movement and sound of their mother’s body. They even kick/move when they hear some familiar sounds and recognize them.
A newborn can hear loud sounds and voices. By three months they are able to hear every sound as the temporal lobe of brain is more active. They may turn towards the sound of their parents and attempt to talk and giggle.
Smell is an important medium by which babies are able to recognize their mother long before they identify faces. By seven weeks of conception the nose starts to form and at 10 weeks smell receptors are formed. While the baby is inside the womb they are able to smell the food their mother would have eaten few hours ago and can even recognize the smell of the amniotic fluid that surrounds them
A newborn is able to recognize their mother thorough smell. This helps them during feeding as they feel most comfortable being around familiar smells. By one month babies are getting used to different smells around them.
At three months of age, they are aware of the distinct smell of the people around them. If there is any unfamiliar smell babies often get scared and cry and kick their legs.
Vision is the most under developed sense in the womb. Your baby’s sense of vision needs time and practice to get precise and accurate.
At birth, your baby can only see black and white, high contrast images. They can only see 10- 12 inches away. The rest is all a blur. With time, vision develops and sharpens. By 3 months, babies are able to see primary colors and can see sharper images too.
Development in vision helps them to reach for and swipe at objects – which in turn lays the foundation of eye-hand coordination.
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