This article discusses tactile and olfactory development, both sub-domains of the Physical developmental area!

While your baby seems to not do much, other than sleeping, eating, and, let’s face it, pooping; his brain is incredibly active, taking the world in through his senses and learning at a rate that will be unmatched the rest of his life.

Your baby’s senses are his main way of learning about the world around him. Of these, smell is the most advanced at birth –a baby actually begins to smell before being born! This allows your little one to detect your scent, which will quickly become his favorite. Even six days after being born, a baby will choose his 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 his 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 him when nothing else seems to work. The smell of lavender or vanilla can calm him down, or your own scent because of its familiarity.

Your baby’s sense of touch is both useful and sensitive at this early age. It allows him to explore and learn about objects. As you will notice, this will especially take place with his hands and mouth. This also means that physical contact is very comforting for babies, so cuddling and holding him skin-to-skin will be important for his social and emotional growth. In the course of the first year, you can exercise your baby’s sense of touch in many ways. Let him roll in the grass, touch a new blanket, or play with textured toys. All of these experiences will provide some interesting stimulation. Expose him to some new scents as well (the supermarket will make for a great field trip), but even the smell of his baby cream, your perfume, and the food that’s cooking will be great stimulation. Exposing your baby to new sensory experiences will help him development.

Watch this activity video to get some ideas for presenting these experiences!

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