• Your Baby Soaks Information Like a Sponge: How to Stimulate His Senses

    A baby uses sensory experiences to explore the world, and you, dear parents, are his guide.
    by Rachel Perez .
Your Baby Soaks Information Like a Sponge: How to Stimulate His Senses
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  • Now that your little bundle of joy is in your arms, and you both have gotten the hang of your "new normal"(ahem, breastfeeding and sleepless nights), you're probably wondering if there is anything else you and your baby can do apart from sleep, feed, nappy, pee and poo as you lovingly stare at him. There is a lot you can do with his senses!

    "We have this impression that babies are helpless, but they absorb a lot of information with their senses to bond with their caregivers and explore things around them," says Lise Eliot, Ph.D., the author of What's Going On In There?: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.

    Your baby is a newcomer to the world and you, dear parents, are his guide, in understanding the new sensory experiences he's been having since coming into the world.

    Nurture your baby's sense of smell, touch, and taste

    Of the five senses, these three senses are already at full bloom once your baby comes out. While the sense of hearing is one of the first senses that your little one develops while inside your womb, it may take a full month for him to respond to the sounds he hears. Your baby's sense of sight will gradually be on par with grown-ups by his first year.

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    Your unborn baby can smell food!

    Yes, while in the womb and with the help of the amniotic fluid, your baby can smell the food you eat and the whiff of aromas you get. He definitely knows your scent, and that's why as soon as your baby arrives, he will look for it — your breast, your underarms, and even the skin care products you use. It's the reason why keeping mom's shirt close to the baby when she's away can help calm him down.

    You can gradually expose your baby to a variety of scents and talk to him about what he's smelling. Place items such as coffee, herbs, ripe fruits, aromatic flavorings in a container and place it underneath his nose. Be careful though that your little one doesn't inhale or touch highly-irritating substances or spicy foods, such as pepper or wasabi.

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    The sense of touch makes your baby feel loved.

    As soon as he arrives, your baby will discover the freedom of movement, which can be both exciting and overwhelming. Your baby had been essentially hugged 24/7 in your womb, and swaddling mimics it. Skin-to-skin contact, on the other hand, lets you share your warmth with your little one. Breastfeeding and giving your baby massages also help show make him feel that he is loved. 

    During the first few months, babies explore mainly by mouth, which is why once they can grasp objects, they always try to put in in their mouth. Allow your baby to experience different textures whether on the play mat or through a book to let him discover shapes, sizes, temperature, softness or hardness of an object, and more. Don't forget to describe what he's feeling, too. 

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    How to develop your baby's sense of taste

    Around the second trimester, your little one in your womb can already taste the food you eat, again, thanks to the amniotic fluid. A baby has a sweet tooth by nature, which is what breast milk offers them and it's why they can quickly develop a liking to salty foods. 

    Babies are not fans of sour or bitter taste, but it will be good to give them a sample when they start eating solids. Keep in mind that infant's taste buds are sensitive, so strong tastes could be overwhelming to them, so introduce them slowly. When preparing their food, go easy on the seasonings, but make sure it's not bland as well.

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    Hone your baby's sense of hearing by talking him!

    In your womb, your baby will start to use his sense of hearing as early as 20 weeks gestation, and he will remember the sounds he heard in the womb when he arrives. That includes your voice, his father's voice, music you've played to him, and more. Starting at two months, your baby should begin to respond to your voice by cooing. If not, it might be a good idea to schedule a hearing test

    You can help develop your baby's sense of hearing by talking and singing to him. Babies prefer high-pitch voices as well as soft music. Make music together using toy instruments or anything in the house. Let him hear you talk and hear various sounds. Protect your baby from too loud noises, though, even those sounds that come from electronic toys. 

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    Rely on colors to develop his sense of sight. 

    Your newborn will be able to see you up close, even if it's a bit blurry. Infants love to high contrast colors (black, red, and white) because that's what they can see clearly from the beginning. At six months, your baby should see a sharper image and also recognize more colors. His eyesight should get better when he reaches his first year, as he learns to look from afar and focus on moving object. (Click here to read more about how your baby's eyesight develops.)

    Make eye contact when breastfeeding, when changing his nappy, and when talking to him. Hold him close so he can familiarize himself with your facial features. Hang colorful toys in his mobile, and take your baby to various rooms in the house, even outdoors. Try to avoid exposing him to a screen. Use a mirror and make faces; play peek-a-boo and read to your child. 

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    Notice that the activities that you and your baby can do over time will work to help him develop all his senses. For example, reading helps build his sight, hearing, and even touch if you're reading a sensory board book. So make sure you interact and play with your baby a lot. Your baby's development from birth to one year is really about play! 

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