How the 5 senses develop during baby’s first year

Babies have blurry vision during the first three months. If they could see as sharply as we adults do, the number of impressions would be overwhelming. Learn how the senses evolve during your baby’s first year.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – During a baby’s first year, their neck gets stronger and their senses develop.
Photo: BabyBjörn

A baby develops incredibly quickly during baby’s first year, but many senses are well developed right from birth. Babies have blurry vision in their first three months, but there is probably a good reason for this.

If they could see as sharply as we adults do, the number of impressions would be overwhelming. So this is probably nature’s helpful way of shielding the child from the intensity of their surroundings. Carrying a baby facing inwards toward Mom or Dad’s chest is another way of helping to shield the baby.

A baby’s vision is blurry the first three months.

The ability to see colors isn’t completely developed at birth. Your baby won’t be able to see color differences until they are one month old – about the same age a baby starts being able to track a moving object with their eyes. Around the age of three months, a baby develops stereo vision, that is, depth perception.

All senses are switched on

Hearing is well developed when the baby is born, and the baby recognizes the voices of family members. The sense of taste is developed at that time, too. A 3D ultrasound shows that a baby inside the mother’s womb prefers sweet flavors to sour.

The sense of smell works from day one, and the best thing a newborn knows is the smell of its parents and especially the smell of breast milk.

Babies prefer sweet flavors to sour.

“It’s fair to say that in a baby’s first year they use all their senses, while we adults tend to be much more visual. But for a small child, the sense of smell, sight, touch, hearing and taste all converge to form an overall impression of how the world works,” says Dr. Gustaf Gredebäck, infant researcher at Uppsala Child and Baby Lab.

And what was previously understood as an infant’s reflexes, such as the suckling reflex, rooting reflex, and the grasp and walking reflexes, are now known to be aspects of a motive to learn more.

“Small babies understand a lot and are not as reflex controlled as was believed only about 20 years ago. Things that a newborn does are usually triggered by some sort of motive to learn more,” says Dr. Gredebäck.

Sensory development in baby’s first year

  1. Sight. A baby’s vision is blurry during the first three months. At about one month of age, the baby begins to see color differences.
  2. Hearing. The baby’s hearing is well developed and babies can hear well inside the womb.
  3. Taste. Newborn babies are tiny gourmets who clearly prefer sweet things. Sour, salty and bitter flavors are less popular.
  4. Smell and touch. A baby’s sense of smell and touch are well developed at birth, and the baby benefits from contact with Mom or Dad – this releases feel-good endorphins.