The World According to Babies

Taste and Touch

Taste

close-up of baby's face

Your baby's taste buds develop in the womb because she's exposed to your diet through your amniotic fluid. You'll continue to share flavors with her after birth, since the taste of food also passes through your breast milk, making it taste a little different each time. But no matter what you eat during pregnancy or those first months of motherhood, your baby is born with a sweet tooth -- anything sugary is yummy and soothing. That's why she'll eagerly gulp breast milk or formula, since both are sweet. "It's nature's way of providing the perfect food for babies," says Dr. Leiderman.

Starting Solids

When your baby is ready for solid foods (usually at 4 to 6 months old), she'll still crave sweets. It's why she gobbles those first bites of applesauce or pureed banana but may turn her nose up at green beans or peas. Provide variety in your child's diet, and keep in mind that introducing new foods may be tougher for a bottle-fed baby because she's used to the same taste at every feeding. If you've exposed your little one to many different flavors -- even potent ones like garlic -- through your breast milk, she may be more willing to accept them when she starts solids. People lose taste buds as they age, so your baby likely has more than you do!

Touch

close-up of baby's hand

Touch is the first sense to develop in the womb and is probably the most advanced at birth, says Dr. Yogman. Babies thrive on lots of physical contact, which makes them feel cozy and loved. "More than any other sense, touch ensures bonding between a parent and baby," says Laura Jana, MD, coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality.

Let's Snuggle

There are lots of super-easy and fun ways to connect with your baby.

  • Cuddle his bare chest against yours for some kangaroo care.
  • Rub his back at feeding time.
  • Hold him and dance cheek to cheek.
  • Swaddle him in a comfy blanket.
  • Give him a gentle massage.

Hooked on a Feeling

When your baby is about 6 months old, he'll become eager to explore the world with his own two hands. He'll have fun discovering different textures, like rough tags on blankets, soft plush toys, Daddy's facial stubble, your hair, and hard and soft blocks.

Anything your baby can get his hands on will likely end up in his mouth, since his mouth is full of touch receptors. It's where he "feels" things best!

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