Baby's Senses

You’ve probably seen your baby at least once via ultrasound, which means you’ve witnessed the amazing physical growth and development that happens as a baby grows inside the womb. But that’s not all that’s happening in there—your baby’s senses are developing at a rapid pace, too. 


The first sense to begin forming is touch, at around the 8-week mark. Feeling begins in the face (mostly around the lips and mouth), with touch receptors forming on the hands and feet by around 12 weeks and on the abdomen at around 17 weeks. By the middle of the third trimester, your baby will be able to feel a wide range of sensations all over his or her body—from heat and cold, to pressure, to pain. 


The first taste buds start to emerge at 8 weeks, and by around 13 weeks, your baby can taste a smorgasbord of flavors in your amniotic fluid, which come from the food you eat. 


The parts of the inner ear that control balance begin to form very early (at around 8 weeks), but your baby’s sense of movement and balance won’t really start to function until around 5 months. After that, your baby might get “excited” by rapid movement, or they might be rocked to sleep by your regular day-to-day activity. 


Though your baby’s auditory system was fully formed at 20 weeks, the nerves necessary to conduct sound were not functional until about 23 weeks. At that point, your baby probably started learning your voice and responding to loud sounds. 


The next sense to develop is sight. You might think it’s all dark inside your belly, but light does pass through your skin and the wall of your uterus, allowing your baby to see once their eyes open at around 26 weeks. 


Until about 28 weeks, your baby’s nostrils were closed by a protective plug of tissue. When that plug came out, your baby was suddenly introduced to a whole new world of smells. 

Want to learn more? Register for our Understanding Your Newborn Course!