What’s going on for baby?

Babies are gathering ‘data’ from what they see, hear, smell, touch and taste. These sensory messages cause their brain cells to connect into neural pathways. Through repetition, the pathways become stronger and more permanent.

They’re developing the ability to turn their head in the direction of a sound, and they’ll be learning to recognise voices of close whānau members. By 6 months old they’ll turn and locate what — or who — is talking or making sounds.

As their vision develops, they can see further and focus for longer. By around 2 months they’ll ‘track’ an object moving slowly across their field of vision. By about 3 months, they’ll use their hands and eyes together to bat at objects and by 4–5 months will be reaching, grasping and bringing things to their mouth. They’ll also be seeing colours and in 3D.

How can parents and whānau help?

  • Stimulate baby’s senses, move an object slowly for baby to follow with their eyes.
  • Hang or hold an item up for baby to practise focusing on and bat at.
  • Offer a container to baby, with a selection of safe objects of varied colour, texture and shape for them to explore with their senses. Remember they will put everything into their mouth, so avoid any small, sharp, pointy and breakable items.
  • Take baby outdoors so they can experience the natural world.
  • Talk to baby in the language that they speak best. Understand that baby has the capacity to learn all languages in the world, so long as they hear them spoken regularly.
  • Use ‘parentese’ in whatever languages the whānau speaks.
  • Talk and sing to baby often to help them absorb the sounds of language.
  • Call to baby from different places in the room, to help them practise locating the source of the sounds

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