A Baby’s brain develops at an amazing rate! Before babies are born, their brains have already grown a lot! In fact, 250,000 new nerve cells, called neurons, are created every minute! This is the beginning of the nervous system. The first step of the “wiring” process occurs before birth when neurons receive information from axons (the appendage of the neuron that transmits impulses away from the cell body) and synapses develop. Just before and after birth as many as 40 thousand new synapses are added every second. When babies are born, they have all the neurons they will ever have, but the brain continues to develop after birth. New experiences such as sights, sounds, smells, and touch cause a baby’s brain to continue developing.
What Can Babies See?
Newborns can only see about 8 to 15 inches at birth. When they are about 2 months old, they begin to focus on faces that are close to them. They start to reach for objects at 3 months of age. By 4 months of age, the eye movements of babies show that they can predict when an object will emerge from behind a screen. By 5 months of age, they can see color and see in depth. Even though newborns will duck away from objects that are heading towards them, they still do not have very good vision. An adult who could see as well as a newborn would be legally blind, with 20/600 vision. Their eyesight continues to improve as the baby grows and the brain continues to develop.
What Can Babies Hear?
A baby can detect sounds by the third trimester, which is the last three months of pregnancy. At birth, a baby can hear better than an adults. Babies recognize familiar voices, especially the mother’s, since they listen to her voice the most in the womb. The baby may even recognize songs and stories heard during the last six weeks of pregnancy. By 6 months, the baby can recognize and begin responding to his or her name. At this age they also try to imitate sounds. Loud, sharp noises often upset babies. Soft, rhythmic sounds calm them.
What Can Babies Smell?
The sense of smell is the most advanced sense that babies have at birth. By two weeks of age, they recognize the scent of their mother’s milk. At birth, babies demonstrate that they can smell by turning away from unpleasant smells. A baby learns quickly and recognizes familiar smells, especially his mother’s scent. You may never have realized how good a baby’s sense of smell is, because it is the most advanced sense that babies have at birth.
A child’s brain is more active than an adults because there is so much new information going on in a child’s brain. Babies' brains grow by 1 % each day beginning right after they are born. A baby's brain reaches 70 percent of adult size by their first birthday.
1. I have already done a lot of research on all the senses except for taste. So I have a couple questions about it. Is a baby's sense of taste as good as an adult's, or does it develop over time? If it's not as good, when is the sense of taste fully developed?
2. How much does a newborn's brain weigh? (or what percentage of a baby's weight is the brain?)
3. How has our knowledge of baby's brains changed over the years? Are there things we used to think about baby brain development that we now know aren't correct?
4. Do babies have abilities that adults don't...something their brains do that they lose the ability to do as they get older?
Aamodt, Sandra, and Sam Wang. Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011. Print. Citation 1