• In the 1st few hours of life, infants hear as well as an adult
with a head cold.
• Capable of discriminating sounds that differ in
loudness, duration, direction, & frequency.
• At 4-6 months, react to a rapidly approaching auditory
stimulus in the same way as a visual stimulus. Ex: Blink in
anticipation of a collision
• Attentive to voices, especially high-pitched female voices.
• Responsiveness to mother’s voice encourages healthy
social, emotional, and intellectual development.
• Phonemes-Smallest meaningful sound units that make up a spoken
• Peter Eimas-Research of 2-3 month olds showed they could
distinguish consonant sounds that are very familiar, such as ba and
• Infants less than a week old distinguish difference between vowels
A and I.
• By 4-1/2 months, recognition of common words, such as their own
• By 7-1/2 months, ability to generalize language-learned patterns to
other tones, instrument timbres, and animal sounds.
• Otitis media- Common bacterial infection of the middle ear that
produces mild to moderate hearing loss.
-Can cause language development, academic, & social delays.
• Sensitive to language properties even when the language is signed
rather than spoken.
• Infants prefer sweets
• Suck faster for sweet liquids than
sour, bitter, salty or natural solutions.
• Sweets produce smacking of lips and smiles
• Sour produces wrinkled nose and pursed lips
• Bitter produces expressions of disgust:
downturned mouth, tongue protrusions, and
• Infants are capable of detecting a variety of odors.
• Turn away and express disgust to unpleasant odors
Ex: Vinegar, ammonia, & rotten eggs
• 4 days old-Prefer the odor of milk to amniotic fluid
• 1-2 weeks – Breast-fed infants already recognize
their mothers by the smell of her breasts and
underarms and can discriminate between other
• Touch and close contact promote developmental progress in
• Lowers stress levels, calms, and promotes neural activity.
• Therapeutic effect: Gentle stroking and massaging arouses
inattentive infants and calms agitated ones. Causes smiling
and bonding with their companions.
• Within 1st year babies explore their environment.
-First with their lips and mouths
-Later with hands
-Contributes largely to their early cognitive development
TEMPERATURE & PAIN
• Infants are sensitive to warmth, cold, and changes in
-Refuse to suck milk if it is too hot.
-Become more active to maintain body heat if the
temperature drops in the room.
• 1 day old infants cry loudly & show greater distress when
receiving inoculations than 5-11 month- olds.
• Males are highly stressed by circumcision
-Done without anesthesia , pain-killing drugs risky to give
-High-pitched cries during surgery similar to premature
and brain damaged infants.
• The least mature of a newborn’s senses
• Infants more likely to track faces than other patterns.
• Neonates have trouble discriminating blues, greens, and
yellows from whites.
• By 2-3 months, can discriminate all the basic colors.
• By 4 months, they can group shades of colors into the same
basic categories that adults do.
• Visual acuity-A person’s ability to see small objects in fine
• Visual contrasts-The amount of light/dark transition in a visual
• Neonates distance vision is about 20/600, which
means they see at 20 feet what adults with good
vision can see at 600 feet.
• The inability to change the shape of the lens of the
eye to bring objects into focus makes anything at a
distance blurry to an infant.
• By 6 months, visual acuity is increased to about
• By 12 months, they see about as well as an adult.
• Newborns can sense movement, colors, changes in
brightness, and a variety of visual patterns.
• Intermodal perception-The ability to use one sensory
modality to identify a stimulus or pattern of a stimulus that is
already familiar through another modality.
• Touch and sight are integrated at birth.
-Infants expect to touch and feel objects they can see.
• Research implies vision and hearing are integrated for infants
at about 1-2 months.
-Infants expect to hear their mother’s voice coming from
the direction of her mouth.
• Infants are able to learn face-voice associations of strangers as
early as 3-1/2 months.
• Babies only 1 month old can detect, by sight, some of the
same objects they have previously sucked.
• By 4 months, infants can match visual and auditory cues for
• At 8 months, infants are able to separate object-sound
pairings & detect single modality differences.
• Multi-modal stimuli promotes perceptual differentiation.
• As infants experience multimodal sensory stimuli (using
different senses to learn & identify an object) , they develop
true intermodal perception.
• As they learn to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, they are able
to distinguish & then reintegrate sensory modalities that are
becoming more differentiated.
Table 5.3 The Newborn’s Sensory Capabilities