Your Brilliant Baby in Week 7: Combining Use of Senses

Baby’s Brain in Week 7

By now you know that your baby’s senses are working. He can see contrasting colors, smell and hear people and things nearby, taste breast milk or formula, and touch the world around him. And now your child is attempting to synchronize those senses to gather information.

Think about it: When drinking a cup of coffee, you see its dark color, taste its yummy flavor, smell its distinctive scent, hear yourself as you swallow, and feel the coffee’s warmth. You receive information about your coffee using all your senses, and that feels complete and satisfying. Your baby is now working to acquire this skill.

What the Research Shows

Researchers offered one-month-olds pacifiers to suck on. Some were smooth, others bumpy; the infants had never seen these pacifiers before. After sucking on either a bumpy or smooth pacifier, the infants were given the opportunity to look at both pacifiers. Baby after baby would turn her face toward the matching smooth or bumpy pacifier that had been in her mouth.

Just by combining their senses of touch with sight, the babies were drawn to look at the pacifier that had been just sucked on. Isn’t this amazing?

Week 7 Brain Booster

While babies are able to complete this simple sensory task, too much sensory stimulation is difficult—and can be frustrating—for most babies to sort out. Think of your home: On any given day, the TV might be blaring, the dog begins barking, spaghetti sauce is bubbling on the stove, and then the phone rings. Suddenly, Baby turns fussy. She’s not hungry; you just fed her. She’s not tired; she just awoke from a nap. What could it be?

It’s too much sensory stimulation. Babies just can’t sort out a bombardment of sensory messages. When things get hectic, listen to your instincts: Take your baby to a quiet spot and rock her gently while singing softly in sync to the rocking motion. Soon she’ll be content and calm—it’s just that easy.

And it’s not only babies whose senses get overloaded. When your older child turns obstinate, becomes overly active, throws one tantrum after another, or retreats in a huff to her bedroom, shut off the DVD and eliminate any other unnecessary sensory stimulation—it’s clearly bothering her. Allow your child to play with water at the sink or play dough at the counter. These activities permit your child to combine her senses and focus them on one task, producing a calming effect.