Stimulating Your Newborn's Senses

Understanding the development of your newborn's senses will help you interact with your little bundle of joy. It's important to stimulate newborns through their senses; the newborn brain contains approximately one billion brain cells, not all of which have connected. Stimulating newborns allows these brain cells to form strong connections so that the brain cells will not die off from going unused.

Newborn's Sense of Sight
Sight is particularly important at this stage. Current research shows that newborns have vision at birth, but that their visual range is only about 12 inches. Therefore, remember to step closer to your newborn when interacting with her. Assume a distance of 9-12 inches between your face and hers.

Your newborn also greatly appreciates getting the opportunity to gaze into your face. Babies are hardwired to enjoy staring at human faces, especially those of her immediate family. This may be a defense mechanism to ensure optimal care on the part of parents; eye-to-eye contact builds attachment that in turn guarantees that parents will care for their much-loved newborn.

Interestingly, newborns have better peripheral vision, meaning they see objects more clearly when not directly looking at it. This means that your newborn will often gaze at you out of the corner of their eye. By three months, a newborn will wave her hands in front of her face and enjoys following the movements with her eyes. Around this time, a newborn will also enjoy watching a mobile's circular swing above her bassinet.

Newborn's Sense of Hearing
Alongside the sense of sight, hearing is most developed in your newborn. To fully stimulate your baby, remember to sing or talk to her while you bend close to her face. Your newborn baby actually prefers to hear its mother's voice, as it grew used to hearing that voice while still in vitro.

Remember to take every opportunity to interact with your newborn; caregiver duties such as diaper changing, bathing or feeding present the best opportunities.

It is also interesting to note that parents are hardwired to speak at a pitch and frequency that their child can best understand. This language, known as parentese or motherese, also simplifies words into repetitive phonemes (like 'mama') that are easier for your baby to understand.

Learn more about newborn care in our baby forum.