7 Surprising Things That Newborns Are Aware Of
Many people believe that newborns have no idea what is happening around them. However, this is a very common misconception.
It may come as a surprise to discover all the things that newborns are actually aware of in their surroundings.
Thanks to science, it has been confirmed that, after childbirth, a newborn already has the ability to pick up stimuli from their environment.
While it is true that babies’ bodies are in a stage of immaturity and still have to develop, their senses are already active and they begin to present several primary reflexes.
As parents, we can harness our babies’ natural potential in order to provide them with better learning opportunities and positively enhance their development in a way that will translate into multiple benefits later on.
To do this, keep reading to discover 7 things your newborn can perceive.
7 Surprising Things That Newborns Are Aware Of
1. Their Mother’s Face
Although their eyesight is not that sharp yet, a newborn can identify the contrasts in color which outline their mother’s face. This way, even if they don’t have a defined image in their mind, they are able to accurately recognize their mother’s face.
Since the mother is usually the one who spends the most time with the baby, it is her face that they are most likely to perceive. However, a baby can also recognize their father’s face, and that of other people who are in close contact with them.
A newborn develops a system to be able to identify different faces.
Like other aspects of their development, experts say that this identification system is associated with the survival instinct.
In other words, this system allows the baby to be able to identify or recognize those who will help him or her survive. It is natural for a newborn to have an interest in most of the faces they see.
From as early as when they are in the womb, the fetus has already experienced smells. This is why newborns develop this sense quickly. Likewise, science has found that the ability to perceive certain smells is related to the survival instinct.
Why does smell contribute to survival? Because it allows the baby to identify their mother, who is a source of food and protection for them. So their mother’s smell will be something that the baby associates with their own welfare and safety.
Later, developing a sense of smell gives them the ability to identify other types of scents as well, and to begin to differentiate between them.
This is how they will begin to feel attraction or repulsion for one smell or another, as the case may be.
While it is true that babies still don’t understand what is being said, they are capable of identifying voices and differentiating between them.
Through intonation, tone and how sound is produced in their environment, a baby learns to identify their mother’s voice, for example. At the same time, they can even tell if people are speaking in a language other than their mother tongue.
Their mother’s voice, thanks to the fact that the baby constantly hears it, is stored as a frequency in their brain.
Although it may be meaningless at first, the voice is filed in their brain and labeled as “Mom’s”, which is evident from the baby’s reactions when their mother talks to them.
It is believed that from the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus begins to adapt its ear and its brain to the mother’s tongue. Therefore, the perception of voices initiates language development for the baby once they leave the womb.
4. White Noise
Because white noise has a relaxing, soothing, and calming effect on human beings, a baby’s brain may record some types of white noise simply because they are associated with pleasure.
White noise generates constant sound waves with hardly any variations. An example of white noise is the sound of rain.
Memory development is crucial for babies, as it will allow them to establish connections depending on what they experience throughout their growth.
Experts in neonatal medicine say that frequent auditory stimulation with white noise (certain words, phrases or repeated songs) for both fetuses and newborns, encourages their development.
5. Shapes, Lights and Shadows
Although a newborn’s vision is somewhat blurred, their eyes gradually begin to focus on key elements that allow them to distinguish certain shapes.
In fact, a newborn can see shapes from a distance of approximately 20–30 cm away from their eyes.
A newborn perceives certain patterns more accurately than others. Therefore, they may be more interested in things that we would commonly call “eye-catching,” such as checkers, stripes, grayscale color schemes, and light and shade effects.
On the other hand, a newborn is able to perceive lights and shadows, but not so much those that are farther away, because they cannot yet focus on them clearly.
However, as they grow, their sense of sight will develop more and more.
On another note, a newborn is able to perceive movements around them. How? Well, the answer is very simple.
Since babies can sense when people are around them and when they are not, they have an idea of what moves and what doesn’t.
The decorative mobiles that are usually placed above babies’ cradles (at a distance of at least 35–40 cm from where the baby sleeps) are elements that usually help them to develop their perception of movement in a very subtle way.
Because the mobile is placed at a distance where the baby can see it, they can perceive its movements with ease.
A newborn baby relies heavily on their first reflexes. These are nothing more than a series of mechanisms that make it possible for them to establish contact with the world around them and gain experience.
While these are very basic behaviors, the mechanisms help them to develop perception. A human’s first reflexes include:
All of these are related to a newborn’s first need: food. That’s why babies tend to put things into their mouths as a way to recognize different objects.
Since their first reflexes were to do this with their mother’s breast, the baby will seek to repeat the tactile experience with objects at their fingertips, such as with pacifiers.
Benefits of Keeping These 7 Things In Mind
While it is true that a newborn is a human being whose body is still very immature, once they are out of the womb, they develop at an incredible speed.
In fact, at an early age, the human brain presents a large number of neural connections that are then decreased as their body matures.
It’s time! Leave your previous conceptions behind and focus more on your baby’s potential. Although they are still very small, they do perceive what is happening around them, and they are aware of many more things than you imagined.
What’s important is that you try to develop your baby’s intelligence. Get inspired!