How Do Babies’ Senses Develop?
The Sense of Touch
The sense of touch located in the skin is a very complex somatosensory system. It consists of receptors widely distributed throughout the body. It allows you to sense hot, cold, pressure, softness, pain, rough, vibration and more. There are different sensory receptors that perceive different sensations only a few weeks after conception. Tests show that skin sensitivity highly develops firstly in the genital area, palms, and soles of their feet. These areas will have more sensory receptors in adulthood than in other parts of the body. Babies start to learn about sensations in the womb thanks to sensory receptors. They like sensing most of them: soft and smooth uterus wall, amniotic fluid, pressure, and constant temperature.
The Sense of Taste and Smell:
A baby’s sense of taste starts developing at the 14th week in the womb. Tests indicate that swallowing increases with sweet tastes and decreases with bitter and sour tastes. Amniotic fluid has different flavors, and so some tests, done after babies are born, show that babies have developed taste preferences. Babies’ noses develop between 11th and 15th weeks. A very short time ago, it was not accepted that a baby was likely to smell in the womb. However, in recent years, it has been discovered that it is possible in amniotic fluid. Many chemical compounds can pass through the placenta and reach the amniotic sac, and so they reach to a baby’s mouth, nose, and pharynx. Babies also smell the taste of these compounds by swallowing. The senses of taste and smell formed in the womb continue after birth, and it affects babies taste and smell preferences.
The Sense of Hearing
There are strong, rhythmic and buzzing sounds in the womb, and these are actually heartbeats of mothers. The hearing organs of fetuses develop by the 24th week, but some tests emphasize that fetuses are able to hear at the 16th week. Sounds inside the womb makes difficult to be heard of sounds coming from outside the womb. Amniotic fluid also reduces the intensity of these noises coming from outside the womb. Babies can only hear some certain sounds. There are many experiments showing that babies respond to music. Babies’ reaction to music differs depending on the type of music. For example, babies react less when they hear calm music like Brahms’ lullaby, but when they listen to Rock music, they react more strongly. Moreover, babies react as if they want to move away from sound source when they hear a very strong or sudden sound.
The Sense of Sight
Babies’ eyelids remain closed until 26th weeks of gestation, but babies have a sensitivity to light before their eyes open. Although it is not possible to test the vision of the fetus, it can be ascertained through testing premature babies. Babies are able to focus and move their eyes horizontally and vertically between 31st and 32nd weeks. This ability develops rapidly through experiences. A newborn baby focuses on the objects between 8 – 12 inches. The uterus and abdominal walls stretched towards the end of the pregnancy, so light may reach to babies, if mothers’ belly is not covered with thick clothes. Therefore, babies will see in reddish and pinkish tones in the light.