Working with Infants
it’s the slowest sense to develop. The world looks fuzzy to newborns, but by
three months, a baby can follow moving objects.
Taste Taste buds appear at seven weeks’ gestation. Taste preferences are
shaped so early that even newborns have definite likes and dislikes. Infants
have an acute sense of taste and generally prefer sweet. However, the specific
tastes that the fetus is exposed to before birth through what the mother eats
will shape a child’s taste preferences.
Hearing Just as in taste, prenatal exposure to sounds penetrating the womb
has a lasting effect on the infant’s preference for sound. By twenty-eight weeks’
gestation, the brain’s auditory cortex, which receives input from nerve cells in
the inner ear, can perceive loud noises. Newborns prefer their mothers’ voice
and can perceive every phoneme in the world’s languages, an ability that is
lost within the first year.
Smell Infants appear to develop a sense of smell even in the womb. Newborns
will prefer a breast scented with amniotic fluid over one with only maternal
scent, indicating they can probably smell amniotic fluid. Also, babies seem
to locate their mother’s nipples by smell. When they are presented with their
mother’s breasts, they are more likely to select the breast that smells like their
mother over the other breast if it has been washed.
15 understanding infants
Sight Although our society functions primarily based on the sense of sight,