The rate of baby growth and development is phenomenal, even just a few short minutes after conception. The exponential rate of cell division staggers the mind. Just a few short weeks after conception the developing foetus begins to learn how to use his developing body parts and sense organs. The child’s mental development accelerates soon after birth. During the first year of his life he will learn at a rate greater than at any other time to come.
- Fetal Growth and Development
- Baby Hearing Development
- Dancing Babies?
- How Sound After Birth Affects Baby Growth and Development
- Baby Vision and Eyes
- Baby Sense of Smell
- A Baby’s Mouth – Taste Buds and Nerves
- Increasing Mobility
- Baby Neck and Head muscles
- Baby Coordination – Arms and Hands
- Baby Walking Development – Growth of Legs and Feet
- Baby Skin Development
- A Baby’s Sense of Touch
It was thought for centuries that prior to birth a baby was almost mentally dormant. Nobody knew exactly what went on in the baby’s brain and it was presumed that baby growth and development was limited to physical growth. It was believed that learning was impossible in such an environment as the womb. The growth of thewas believed to be pre-set with little deviation from a pattern.
However, in the past few years scientists have revealed an amazing picture previously unknown to generations past. Experiments inside the womb using sophisticated technology have shown without a doubt that baby growth and development progresses physically and mentally prior to birth. Scientists in the field of cognitive research have also shown that following birth, babies engage in complex mental processes akin to a level of sophistication found in the scientific disciplines such as higher math and physics. Considering their limited knowledge base, they outpace the learning rates of adults and computers designed for artificial intelligence.
Every single thing that a baby does inside the womb is stored in his head as a memory. Movement patterns, touch sensitivity, tastes and sounds are all processed in his brain. This helps the baby’s growth and development as he paints a mental picture of his environment – albeit a dark one. But this process of tiny incremental learning steps prepares him for life after birth.
Fetal Growth and Development
Your baby undergoes an amazing process of change, as he grows from a microscopic fertilised egg. By week 8 a fully functional central nervous system along with internal organs are housed within a tiny body that already has partially developed arms and legs. His face is taking shape, and cheeks, lips, nose and eyes are visible. His bones become much stronger and his skin begins to toughen. The phenomenal growth of neurones within his brain paves the way for a lifetime of learning. All five senses are being exercised and refined well prior to birth. A multitude of factors affect baby growth and development simultaneously, including the quality of the diet of the mother, and her own physical well being.
There is an amazing difference in the physical and mental abilities between a newborn baby and a nine month old child. Just following birth and for several weeks later the newborn can do little else but suckle. He is completely reliant physically on his parents, not even being able to hold up his own head. The phenomenal rate of baby growth and development can be appreciated if you observe the huge changes from conception to birth, and then from birth to nine months later. It brings parents great joy to watch a child develop and there are many first moments to rejoice over these baby developmental milestones, such as learning to crawl, eat, sit up on his own etc.
There seems to be a fairly common series of developmental steps babies take when learning basic motor skills. The order in which the skills are learnt does not deviate much at all but the timing can vary from child to child. A lot is dependent on genetics and surroundings. Some babies learn to crawl much earlier than others, but may take longer to learn to walk. On the other hand, some babies may never crawl but go straight from bumping around to walking. So one might learn to walk within 12 months and another one might be crawling until 18 months old. Babies seem to learn fast, in a matter of days with some skills. They can go from standing and falling over, to walking with good balance in under a week. Baby and parent communicate back and forth encouraging each other during these key moments. It seems to be genetically inbuilt for parents to really enjoy these stages of baby growth and development.
People love to compare their babies and there is a lot of competition between parents as to whose babies are doing what before the others. We are naturally proud of the achievements of our offspring and curious as to the rate of progress of other peoples babies. Early development is not necessarily a sign of superior intellect in later life. Motor skills such as walking and talking might develop early in some babies but this is not an indication that they are going to be Olympic sprinters or great orators. The timing of the baby developmental stepping stones should not be a cause for anxiety. Like adults, some babies are good at some things and some babies are better at others.
There really is no need for concern about small delays in your child’s progress unless the rate of baby growth and development is months behind the norm. If you find though that this is the case with some of the skills and abilities that you think your baby should have developed by now, then your doctor or health visitor can help you figure out if there are any underlying problems. For example, if your baby is very slow in learning to talk, it could be because he has a hearing problem. Every parent will be naturally concerned if their baby is lagging behind others. But it is important not to be overly concerned before finding out all the facts concerning baby growth and development.
Baby Hearing Development
A baby is capable of hearing a mere 15 weeks following conception. At this time he probably only weighs about 4 ounces and is about 6 inches long. To imagine the type of sounds the baby can hear inside the womb you should put your fingers in your ears and swallow, chew, and talk. The sounds are muffled and this is the type of noise a baby can hear in the womb. He can pick up vibrations from walking. Your heartbeat and placental activity can also be heard. He can pick up the noises from food being digested. And he can hear your voice and all its intonations quite clearly. All of this enables his ears to send signals to his brain where neurone connections are triggered that improve the baby’s hearing incapacity. The auditory cortex of the baby’s brain has formed after six months of gestation and he now has the ability to listen to an amazing variety of sounds. All of this learning prior to birth prepares the baby for when he starts learning to talk.
Quite a surprising discovery in the field of baby growth and development, is that it has been observed that some babies have the ability to dance inside the womb when they hear music. Although very basic, it has been shown that babies respond by a kicking and wriggling when they hear certain types of music. Within the brain, neural connections are forming as the baby makes sense of all these different sounds. He associates movement and sound, and creates complex memories and learns to react to familiar noises. The baby can also pick up hormonal levels and senses the state of calmness or anxiety of its parent. If you happen to be stressed, and then put on some soothing music to relax, the baby can pick up on the changes in your heart rate andand associates that music with your reaction. If you happen to be relaxed and then all of a sudden start moving vigorously to dance music, the baby also associates that type of sound with an increase in heart rate. This is how different types of sounds can trigger emotional responses in children and adults alike. If you have an argument with your spouse, the baby can also associate the sounds of shouting with increased adrenalin levels.
By week 38 your baby is capable of recognizing and reacting to different types of music that you may have played. There is a theory that playing classical music will increase the intelligence of the child but it really does not matter what style you like. What counts is playing a wide variety of tunes and styles as these all train the baby’s ears and brain to differentiate sounds from one another. The baby can learn about melody, harmony, pitch and rhythm. Some types of music will make the baby kick vigorously and some could send him to sleep. Once he is born, you’ll get a better understanding of these preferences.
How Sound After Birth Affects Baby Growth and Development
One of the big differences between hearing within the womb and hearing after birth is that the new sounds coming through the air directly will sound extremely clear to the baby. Before birth, baby growth and development is limited sensually to the dark and relatively quiet environment of the womb. All sound is transmitted from the outside world through your skin and also through the amniotic fluid. This makes everything sound muffled and higher pitched sounds are harder to hear.
Another new way of listening to sound once outside the womb will be the ability to locate the source is of noise. This was impossible inside the womb, but now the baby will be able to tell the difference between the volume levels in either ear. This is how he determines where the sound is coming from. Initially the baby will be able to locate sounds straight in front of him more easily than those coming from the side or the rear. After six months he will have the ability to locate a sound coming from anywhere, as your baby’s growth, and development of his neck muscles enables him to move his head and pinpoint sound more precisely.
Whenever your baby hears a voice it conveys something about his mother tongue. Your native language will be imprinted in his brain as he observes you and your relatives speaking to each other. He scrutinises your facial expressions and the way that you move when you talk. He observes both speech and body language closely. Pitch, rhythm, volume and intonation combined with what he sees helps him to learn language and the meaning of words. He associates objects that he wants with the sounds that you make as you present them to him and eventually learns to say those things to get what he desires. During the first six months of a baby’s growth and development following birth, he is probably the best listener he will ever be. Not yet being able to talk means he spends more time observing and listening and making sense of it all rather than speaking himself. The the noisy toddler stage is yet to come.
Baby Vision and Eyes
Although he can’t see much, after about 25 weeks in the womb your baby opens his eyes in an attempt to view his surroundings. Not much will be seen at all unless you expose your abdomen to bright sunlight, or in a medical setting when a light is shone on to it to enable an inside view of the womb. His eye muscles are active service points and he moves is eyeballs from side to side and links all in preparation for birth and the outside world. The fact that a newborn baby can stare straight into your eyes is proof that he has been using them prior to its entrance into the world. He can make out facial features such as lips and nose and teeth. He can see divisions of colour on your head such as your eyebrows and fringe. At this point his eyes respond to differing light levels as that is all he had the opportunity to do in the womb. But now these variations in light and dark, are the initial building blocks of true site as his brain learns to interpret through them shape and textures.
And usually the baby can’t see beyond 12 inches clearly. He does not have the ability to focus clearly beyond that yet. Everything pass this point is blurry and hazy. The colours black, white, red and yellow are perceptible to him but other colours are not yet. Developments in the visual cortex of the brain enable him to make out sharp lines of contrasting colours and shades. This is probably why a baby is drawn to your face as eyebrows, lips, noses and our eyes stand out from the rest of the head.
A baby in its first weeks, can see movement but is unable to follow it very well as its eye muscles are not well developed yet. His visual abilities are just a fraction of an adults. He can only make out 5% of what you can but can still differentiate shapes and has the ability to see the world in three dimensions. A huge part of the brain is assigned to vision in human beings. Every day growth will accelerate in those areas of the brain responsible for making sense of what the eyes taking in. After two months he will have the ability to predict the effect of gravity on the motion of objects as they move through the air. He develops the complex ability, only recently made possible with computers, to recognise faces from one another. The complex algorithms that are programmed into facial recognition software, give us an indication of the complexities of the baby’s visual development. He will start recognising different members of the family and can even tell her you are from the way you walk, sit and your own particular body language without having to refer to your face. He will also have the ability to differentiate between the faces of complete strangers.
Just like the ears which enable us to hear in stereo, our two eyes give us the ability to fuse two separate images together and make sense of three dimensions in the real world. It is the brain that enables these two separate views of the world to appear as one. A newborn baby sees two images simultaneously and cannot completely make sense of them as an adult can, and C in stereo, until he is 10 weeks old. At this point the baby is able to make so much more sense of his surroundings. In combination with his rapidly developing ability to move his limbs, especially his arms and fingers, he now’s the ability to reach out towards objects with great accuracy. This triggers a big advance in his mental development as he discovers he can interact and manipulate his environment.
Babies never tire of repetition as long as they are getting better what they attempting to do. This new vision in three D, is perfected by constant practice. At five months old, your baby will take a great interest in his hands and his fingers. He will play with them and draw them to his face and mouth. Once he figures out what they can do he will really go to work on anything within reach! This triggers another spurt in baby growth and development as his brain starts to understand more about distance, texture and the size of various objects. The two eyes are now working in tandem and this enables him to judge distance, height and depth.
As he gains more control over his body and posture, this enables him to improve on his sight and visual skills even more. His increased strength in the neck muscles enable him to take in everything that surrounds him. When he was a newborn all he could do was move his head from side to side as he laid down, and everything was blurred beyond a foot away. From about six months onwards he can make decisions by judging distances as to what is within his reach or not. At this point his visual abilities are about 10 per cent of grownups. He has also learnt what various facial expressions mean and can become quite upset at times if he does not get the facial response he wants from you. It is at about nine months old that he can detect depth. He now knows that he is higher at the table than when he sits on the sofa.
The brain is very efficient but it cannot continue to take every single new experience in that is not necessary as the ability to recall useful information will be hampered by too much Data Storage. By this time, about seven or eight months, the brain begins to restrict the manufacture of connections in the visual cortex. It already has enough to make sense of most things. One of the abilities that the baby now loses is to differentiate characteristics in faces that are not familiar to him. Depending on his cultural and racial environment, he will now find it much easier to differentiate between people of his own ethnicity than those of other races. This is why it is much easier for a Chinese person to recognise differences in Chinese people than it is for an African person to recognise differences in Chinese people. We tend to make groupings in our brains with regard to the appearance of people from races that may not be familiar to us. So people from our own race or ethnicity will be viewed truly as individuals. People from other genetic heritages are not seen in the same way by us and this is because as babies we lose this ability to distinguish facial features to such a degree at about eight months.
Even though the creation of new connections in the visual cortex of the brain has peaked, baby growth and development with regard to vision has a long way to go. The ability of the eyes to focus and grow continues to increase as the optic muscles develop. The eyes never rest while we are awake and for the baby every waking moment is a lesson. All the senses combine and imprint powerful links within the brain as the baby makes associations between sights and smells, sounds and sensations, creating a three dimensional map of his environment.
Baby Sense of Smell
Each area of a baby’s face develops separately within the womb along with associated brain tissue and nerve connections. In the same way that the eyes and ears are physical structures that connect via nerve pathways to the brain, so the ears also are a connection of skin, bone and brain. The baby has a sense of smell inside the womb but all there is to sniff is the amniotic fluid. After he is born he encounters a host of new smells and can make each one out accurately. His sense of smell at this stage of baby growth and development is much greater than his vision. It is so good that he can actually move himself towards your breasts and their fragrant milk if he is laid on your abdomen, soon after birth. He knows where the nipple is via its fragrance and will seek it out and suck it if given the chance. He can also distinguish your own personal scent, which to him smells like amniotic fluid.
The smell of his environment becomes more familiar to him and he soon learns to distinguish between people and rooms in the house. You are the most familiar person to him because of your smell and he can soon tell when a stranger is near. He knows the smell of his, the kitchen, inside the car, and how dad differs to mum. His sense of smell is controlled by an area of the brain that creates the neural connections with other areas of the brain. This neural connectivity gives the baby the ability to further define his experiences.
A Baby’s Mouth – Taste Buds and Nerves
Baby growth and development inside the womb is geared towards not only physical growth but the honing of survival skills needed immediately after birth. For example, your child prepares himself for breastfeeding prior to birth by a sucking on his own fingers inside the womb. It is this practice that enables him tostraight away. During his time in the womb his tongue develops from the floor of the mouth and he soon begins using it, playing with his hands and fingers. But it is a multi functional organ that enables us to taste, manipulate food in the mouth, and talk. The sense of taste is restricted to the rear of the tongue at this point in a baby’s growth and development, but it will soon develop extra nerve endings and become fully functional. The most sensitive area of his body at the moment is his mouth which is packed with nerve endings. In fact the neural pathways from the brain to the lips, mouth, and tongue are some of the first to form in the womb.
Three months before birth your baby can already taste amniotic fluid. Each meal you eat affects its flavor, and the baby is fully capable of experiencing sugary or salty foods. Foods which affect mood such as chocolate will also affect the baby’s mood as it reacts to rises in blood sugar levels and increasing heart rate brought on by caffeine.
The baby becomes accustomed to what you eat during pregnancy. If you were to radically alter your diet after childbirth and you intend to breastfeed, this could put your baby off the flavor of your milk as it is different to what he is used to inside the womb. So it is best to maintain a similar diet. This can work both ways, so if you find that your baby is not breastfeeding very well, and you have kept at the same diet, try changing things a little and see if it makes a difference to his appetite. He may have a taste for spicy food or roast beef. Remember he is an individual with his own tastes, literally. These will become more apparent as he transitions from breast milk or formula milk to solid food. Getting him to like his food / milk is a key factor in maintaining a healthy rate of baby growth and development.
It is not only the taste of food that a baby reacts to, but also its texture and temperature. In the brain more neural connections are made between the various aspects of food. You’ll notice that your baby soon develops certain preferences such as a fondness for sweet or savoury foods. Some babies even like bitter flavours such as lemon juice.
In the womb, your baby is nearly always busy except when he is asleep. He twists and turns, moves his limbs and tries to grab hold of the umbilical cord and his own hands. He kicks against your abdomen and pushes against anything around him. He continues to do this following birth. Most movements during this early stage of baby growth and development are reflexive but it is necessary exercise that prompts further increases in muscle size. Also, as he kicks and reaches out and comes into contact with various materials, his sense of touch becomes more acute. His brain also creates a neural connections as it sends chemical messages between limbs and the visual cortex.
The baby’s exit from the watery womb into the outside world is similar to what returning astronauts experience after spending some time in space. Inside the womb the baby is virtually weightless, just floating in the amniotic fluid. But as he is born one of the first things he will experience is gravity. He’s gone from a comfortable and warm foetal position where he did not even feel the weight of his own limbs, to feeling the force of atmospheric pressure and his own mass. This new experience of being aware of his own weight has a huge influence on baby growth and development as now the muscles have to work against one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. Even though he may be lying down, his first initial movements in the outside world will be much more difficult than anything he experienced in the womb. But each time he moves he will be building his muscles and strength and coordination. The transition to an upright seated position is his next big quest. It will take him months of constant niggling and kicking before he gets there, but get there he will. There is a point to every small movement a baby makes. It is not done for nothing. Even mouth movements and gurgling are all prerequisites for greater things to come in terms of communication and speech.
Baby Neck and Head muscles
Believe it or not a baby can control his head and neck much more accurately than he can his arms and legs at first. Babies are pretty helpless when we hold them up, but as he lays down if you watch carefully, he will consciously move his head from side to side. When you’re holding him, he does have the ability to make small movements with his neck. These work in tandem with his eyes and help him survey his surroundings. Your own movement and facial expressions draw him to you and prompt him to try and move his head to follow the action. At about six weeks he will have developed the power to stabilize his head for a few seconds and then as the weeks roll on he’ll be able to maintain head positions for several minutes and then in a few months control his head like an adult.
This increasing strength enables him to control his head more and more. The babies head and neck muscles develop from muscles at the top of the spine. Helping him move by supporting his head encourages increasing growth and development throughout the rest of the body. As your baby becomes more eager to check out his surroundings he pushes against objects such as his bed to get a better view. This also increases muscular growth just like a miniature body builder. A baby’s head at about three months old is four times as large in comparison to the rest of his body than an adult’s. So it’s not an easy task to master head control for the little fellow. Imagine if you suddenly had a head 4 times the size it is now!
The muscles of the back and spine carry on developing. Then by 6 months he can maintain an upright, in line posture if put into a sitting position. He also has the ability to turn his head from left to right. At this stage of your baby’s growth and development he can maintain balance and has quite a degree of control over his head. But he still struggles to control and coordinate the rest of his limbs. The muscles of the hips and lower back may not yet be developed enough to allow him to sit upright unaided. Practice makes perfect though, and by 7 months old balance will become a lot better and at nine months old all the muscles that are needed for walking are ready for some practice towards the first steps.
Baby Coordination – Arms and Hands
Within minutes of birth a baby usually ends up gripping his mother’s finger. The hands are so important to us even in our automated societies. So it is not surprising then that a baby starts developing his hand and arm skills immediately following birth. The truth is, he has been practicing for the last six months inside the womb in preparation for the outside world. Emotionally, when the baby first grips his mother’s finger it triggers the onset of a powerful bond. It makes the baby feel more secure as he holds on to you, and creates a feeling of deep love for him within the mother.
One thing you will observe in baby growth and development is they generally have more control over the movement of their arms and shoulders well before they can manipulate their fingers. A baby can, via his shoulder muscles, move his arms and hands towards objects after a month. He will usually only try to grab what is within arm’s reach. His brain is developed to the point where he can determine visually and audibly how near or far an object is. When it appears that he is grasping at something beyond his reach, he is in fact, pointing at it, but as his fingers are not fully functional yet it doesn’t look like pointing. There are two main arm movements in the first few weeks that a baby exhibits. Reaching out towards objects is more deliberate and gradual. The other type of movement resembles a punch or swipe. These latter movements are much more energetic and faster.
The initial attempts to reach out towards objects are clumsy at first but after about 14 weeks he develops the ability to actually make contact most of the time with whatever is his reaching for. This curiosity driven movement is vital for baby growth and development and it stimulates muscles to grow . It may seem like fun to us, but like many wild animals, playing is preparation for life. As he makes these movements with his arms and hands, the brain makes sense of it all. Sight and the sense of touch along with the nerve impulses sent from the brain to order the movement of arms and hands all connect neurally.
At 12 weeks these movements are not quite accurate yet because he has not developed the ability to estimate distance and contours. But learning is accelerating as he practises reaching out and touching objects. After 16 weeks he can make clapping movements, bringing his hands in contact with each other, and can actually hold on to things. It seems clumsy at this stage but a few weeks on he will be able to coordinate shoulder muscles, triceps, biceps, forearms and fingers and make a straight path with his hand towards the object rather than a clumsy throw. All the senses work together and this explains why babies not only pick things up but try to shake them to see what they sound like and bring them to their mouths so that they can taste them. As adults, we do not have to put everything we hold into our mouths. We know for example, that a cellphone is not that tasty! But the baby has yet to learn such things. Adults are much the same as babies in that curiosity drives our desire to learn. You are learning now as you read these words because you were curious about baby growth and development. You are no longer curious about the taste of cell phones. But a baby will be.
As soon as your baby can sit, and is no longer helpless on his back, he is in a much better position to discover new things around him and manipulate objects by picking them up, throwing them, putting them to his mouth, and tasting things. This is a momentous joy for him in the same way that somebody who has been consigned to a hospital bed for months is now well enough to leave it. This new position of sitting upright enables him to use all his senses simultaneously. His ability to control movement by 9 months has reached the point where he can not only reach out for objects and grab them, but control his ability to feel in various ways such as stroking and patting a pet. Along with his new found ability to crawl or bounce about on his backside, he can now he explore many different ways of learning about his environment that he just could not do when laid on his back.
Baby Walking Development – Growth of Legs and Feet
Arms develop much faster than legs in terms of coordination and control. Likewise, wrists, hands, and fingers all develop abilities well before ankles and feet. In terms of movement however the lower limbs are busy in a newborn. Kicking and wriggling and stretching are great fun and become increasingly more vigorous as the weeks go by. A baby expresses joy and excitement by kicking, often accompanied by laughing. He will also kick when he is upset and angry.
This is all good exercise that builds up his strength and his future ability to be able to resist gravity and push himself off the floor with each step. If you hold the baby under the arms and just a few inches off the floor, you will notice that he already has a reflex for stepping. That pattern of movement is already imprinted in his brain, but his body has not yet caught up in terms of strength and coordination. Several months later, if you hold your baby in the same way but with his feet on the ground, he will demonstrate the reflex but this time he will try to move forward even though he still does not have the ability to walk.
Babies have greater flexibility than most adults because they have very elastic ligaments. They can curl up into a ball almost like hedgehogs. They have the ability at around five months to touch their toes and even bring their feet towards their mouth, sucking on toes! Also at about 5 months old, the baby learns to move one leg at a time instead of thrashing away with two. Kicking is his main workout at this stage of baby growth and development and a very important one as he will need strong thighs and calf muscles before he can walk.
You can test the strength of your baby’s legs by holding him by the hands and seeing if he can stand. If he can do this after 9 months then he has very strong leg muscles and good motor skills because it involves a lot of balance. At first babies are very floppy, but this changes as their bones harden and their muscles grow. First steps are achieved once the brain and ears join forces giving him the ability to balance. At some point your baby will feel confident enough to let go of you and try to go it alone. It is staggering to think of the amount of coordination required in the muscles and brain just to stand unaided. Everything from your toes to your head has to work in combination or else you will fall over. This synchronization doesn’t come quickly in a baby’s growth and development and most will take at least a year before they can walk.
Baby Skin Development
One of the very first phases of baby growth and development is the formation of skin. A baby’s skin starts forming just a few minutes after conception. The exterior layer of the embryonic cells will divide and multiply and form the brain, nervous system and the skin that will envelope the growing baby. Inside the womb the skin is covered by a defensive layer of creamy vernix, which acts as a moisturiser. The skin is a defensive layer against infection, and it will soon toughen up following birth. The skin is also a good indicator of your baby’s health. If he is too hot it will redden. Too cold, and you will see Goosebumps. If he has an allergy to certain types of food, this can also appear as a reaction in the skin.
The skin is a self regenerating organ. It continually replaces itself to provide flexible barrier that not only stops germs entering into us but also keeps everything inside. The skin is vital for temperature control, containing millions of sweat glands which not only produce fluid to cool the body via evaporation, but functions also like a kidney in that eliminates waste products from the body. Skin is waterproof. Every square inch of your skin contains over 2000 glands which secrete special oil that keeps it waterproof and flexible. It contains metres of blood vessels which enable your body to maintain a constant temperature. Approximately five million sensory cells inhabit the skin and enable you to send messages to your brain relaying information about your environment and the objects in it. You not only feel physical textures and shapes via your skin but also sense temperature and humidity.
A Baby’s Sense of Touch
We can experience from time to time absences of certain senses such as sight, sound, taste and smell. But we always feel something through our sense of touch. Whether we’re lying down and can feel the texture of a bed or are standing still and can feel pressure on the soles of our feet, our sense of touch is constantly or work. For the baby, inside the womb he continuously feels the amniotic fluid surrounding him. He can also feel the walls of the uterus as he kicks out his feet and tries to grab hold of the umbilical cord. He can feel his own body touching itself as his hands and arms come into contact with his torso, legs and head. He he also has the sense of touch in his mouth as he sucks in the fluid and swallows it.
Both inside the womb and following childbirth, baby growth, and development of the senses continues as the brain produces connections to link anything that is seen or smelt with what can be felt or seen or heard. Every time a baby touches an object or is touched himself, the central nervous system becomes more more in tune and developed. A baby really appreciates the touch of his mother. Human to human contact is what brought him into the world in the first place! And this is what sustains him throughout his early years as your baby grows and develops into a toddler and then a small child. Touch is the medium through which he will initially experience love, comfort and security. His holding on to you and you holding on to him before his sense of sight has developed is key to his emotional wellbeing. Embracing a baby not only helps him psychologically, but it actually has a beneficial effect on the condition of his skin. Baby massage is a great way not only for forming a bond between mother and child, but also stimulates and accentuates the development of that sense of touch. In addition to that it is very good for muscular regeneration and growth.
Psychological development is dependent on a baby;s state of mind in his first few weeks. It has been discovered that children’s who were deprived of the sense of touch during their early weeks and months go on to become emotionally hardened people with substandard social skills and little empathy for others. However those who are lovingly and regularly embraced at a young age, go on to become much more emotionally stable and capable of sustaining loving relationships. So much of this is based on the sense of touch.
It is through the sense of touch that a baby first communicates with his mother. When the baby experiences emotion in the womb he kicks out excitedly. He reacts to things from the exterior environment or to your own hormonal balance by reacting physically and reaching out. You feel his touch and he feels yours even before birth. It it is possible to even connect with the baby through the abdomen. He will feel you massaging it and it will have a soothing affect on him as it relaxes you.
The importance of the sense of touch is heightened as soon as a baby is born. Face to face contact soothes both mother and child. Milk production is increased when a sense of comfort is invoked. From five months onwards a baby is determined to gratify his desire to touch by reaching out and feeling everything around him including your face. These satisfying feelings of touch stimulates your baby’s growth and development and promotes muscular hypertrophy and coordination.