Your Infant's Sensory Abilities
Your Baby Smells-and Tastes, Too!
Your baby's senses of taste and smell will also be active in the first days and weeks of life. Of course, babies are not gourmets. Your child probably won't experiment with a wide variety of tastes for quite some time. Indeed, breast milk and/or formula should make up your child's entire diet for several months.
Tests have shown, however, that even newborns who are offered a wider variety of tastes demonstrate distinct preferences. Bitter or sour tastes provoke faces or crying from newborns. Not surprisingly, babies tend to have a sweet tooth-a good thing, because both breast milk and formula taste very sweet.
Little is known about a newborn's sense of smell. Yet because the senses of smell and taste are so closely related, babies can probably distinguish among a variety of aromas. Just what babies prefer to smell is difficult to test.
Your newborn's skin, especially his lips and hands, is very sensitive to touch. Long before he can voluntarily reach for objects, your baby nonetheless uses his sense of touch to establish contact with the outside world. By lying on different surfaces and coming into contact with different objects, he discovers the difference between hard and soft, hot and cold, and smooth and rough.
By observing your child's responses, you can discover the textures and temperatures he prefers. Even without testing, however, you can safely assume that he likes being held close, cuddled, and kept warm.
What Your Newborn Can Do
Your baby has an extremely limited repertoire of activities, but don't judge her too harshly. She's expending an awful lot of energy simply absorbing and processing information through her senses, which leaves little energy left for, say, playing tennis, reading Shakespeare, or planting a flower bed.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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