Newborn Sensory Development

A lot of parents struggle to find activities to do with their newborn babies during "active awake" time. I wanted to share our activities which are focused around developing our baby's five senses.

This is one of the most important senses for a newborn -- the need to be cuddled and touched. Hugs, kisses, and cuddling while nursing are so important, but here are some other activities to help stimulate your baby's sense of touch!

Skin to skin time - This is very important for bonding, especially during the first month!

Bath time - Warm baths give baby a new sensation and can be especially calming for babies with colic.

Soft blankets - Let baby rest on soft blankets made of different textures.

Back rubs and head rubs - We like to use her favorite lotion to sooth her dry skin and give her a very soft baby rub. One tip I learned from a pediatrician, is to imagine that baby's skin starts an inch away from the surface, so your initial touch is extra gentle.

Outside time - If you live in a warm climate, taking baby outside for a few minutes can give a warm and humid feeling, which can help relax baby.

The olfactory senses are the most developed sense for your newborn at birth. We incorporated scent based activities into our daily routine, and our little one responded very well.

We used essential oil aromatherapy from the first day in the hospital. Learn more here...

We made sure not to change our soap, deodorants, shampoos or conditioners for the first month so that baby would get used to our smells.

Newborns can only see a few inches in front of them, and only high contrast (black and white). 

Contrast cards - We made contrast cards for our little one to view for the first two months, and she loved them! She would smile and coo while we would play this game at night. She even started following the moving objects as early as three weeks old!

Here are the high contrast images we used:

Face to face time - It is also important to have a lot of face to face interaction with your little one! This is the best game for baby.

Sounds are a great way to engage with baby! 

Music - We play a lot of music in our home. We take time to play different genres of music from Vivaldi and Chopin to Aphex Twin and Amon Tobin. For newborns 0-3 months classical and ambient music is recommended.

Our little newborn responds very well to the following Pandora stations:
  • Spa Radio
  • Yoga Radio
  • Vivaldi Radio
  • Debussy Radio
  • Brahms Radio

Reading - We have read to both of our kiddos since the day they were born. For a newborn, you can read to them anything you are reading, just read aloud! The rhythms of your voice will help them develop vocally and improve their conversational skills as they grow.

Singing and vocalizing - Each pediatrician I have met recommends talking and singing with your newborn baby, beginning the first day of life. Our little one smiles so much when you get face to face and engage with her.


Breast milk is the best way to engage your little one's sense of taste. Exclusive breast feeding for the first six months is very important for your little one (especially to receive the Immunoglobulin A during the first few months of life). Studies have shown that if mommy eats a wide variety of foods while nursing, your little one is far less likely to be a picky eater, because your diet changes the taste of your breast milk.

We hope this helps you during your first few weeks with new baby! Here are a few additional links about newborns and sensory development during the first three months of life:

Have Fun!