This article discusses tactile and olfactory development – both sub-domains of the Physical developmental area!
While your baby seems to not be doing much, other than sleeping, eating, and let’s face it – pooping – her brain is incredibly active, taking the world in through her senses, and learning at a rate that will be unmatched the rest of her life.
Your baby’s senses are her main way of learning about the world around her. Of these, smell is the most advanced at birth – a baby actually begins to smell before being born! This allows her to detect mom’s scent, which will quickly become her favorite. Even six days after being born, a baby will choose her mother’s breast pad over someone else’s. Also, babies will also prefer sweet to bitter smells right away – but they might also show a penchant for certain smells depending what her mom ate during pregnancy. So don’t be surprised if your baby shares your love for strawberries, bananas, and later, chocolate! What this means is that you can use your baby’s sense of smell to soothe her when nothing else seems to work: the smell of lavender or vanilla can calm her down – or your own scent for its familiarity.
Your baby’s sense of touch is both useful and sensitive at this early age: it allows her to explore and learn about objects – as you will notice, this will especially take place with her hands and mouth. This also means that physical contact is very comforting for babies – so cuddling and holding her skin-to-skin will be important to her social and emotional growth. In the course of the first year, you can exercise your baby’s sense of touch in many ways. Let her roll in the grass, touch a new blanket, or play with textured toys. All of these experiences will be sure to provide some interesting stimulation. Expose her to some new scents as well – the supermarket will make for a great field trip, but even the smell of her baby cream, your perfume, and the food that’s cooking will be great stimulation. Exposing your baby to new sensory experiences will help her development – watch this activity video to get some ideas for presenting these experiences!