Netflix Twelve Part Series ‘Babies’ Episode: #9 SENSES

Several experts make sense of how babies touch, taste, and see as they embark on a sensory journey shaping the rest of their lives.

Our five senses create the foundation of connection with other humans.  Sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell fill our memoires with the skin and bones of life.  We learn about the wonders of our world through experiencing them at this innate level.   Little is known about how this awareness develop in babies.  In this segment researchers work in several different capacities to learn how babies experience our wonderful senses!


Nathalie Maitre, Director NICU Follow up Programs NICU Developmental Therapies Nationwide Children’s Hospital, USA.  Began studying there 2015.

Recent research in skin to skin contact immediately after birth has provided physical proof holding baby up against either mommy or daddy’s skin regulates his blood sugars, helps his body stabilize body temperature, causes his bacteria to correlate with moms, and on and on.  Ms. Maitre, introduced above, found all these to be true when her son was born at 24 weeks gestation weighing 2 lbs.  She now supervises studies in these areas at the BBOP Lab. Baby Brain Optimization Project.  Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

The purpose of the BBOP Lab. is to research preterm and developing infants as well as toddlers, leaning how they experience our five senses.  They conducted the first study including both infants and their mothers.  Brain sensory helmets were put on baby and mom to measure how their brains responded to the same stimulus.

Mom would smile at her baby close to her, but not touch or talk to her.  Measurements were recorded as well a videoed.   Then mom would smile at her baby and touch her.  Measurements taken.  Third interaction mom would smile, touch, and speak to her baby.  Again, measurements taken.  It was found the layering of the three responses in unison created the greatest responses in babies.

Further testing was done in and effort to understand whether or not strong responses could be created with a surrogate stand-in.  Mom’s baby carrier, with her scent, was used to hold baby.  In addition, a recording of mom singing a song was recorded to play when baby sucked his pacifier.  

Result: Every touch, whisper, sound, taste, smell grows emotional connection and health in baby.

Pawan Sinah, Professor Neuroscience  Massachusetts  Institute of Technology USA.  Boston, Massachusetts

Study of visual neuroscience.    Effortlessly we open our eyes and see.

How do babies learn to see?    His son wore a webcam as a 2 week old infant. The understanding is babies see blurry at birth, eyes don’t focus.   90% of all scenes in the video were faces.  Learning to read and embrace facial expression is a huge part of human communication.  Result:  Babies are spending nearly their first year learning this. More studies concentrated on taste and how babies are affected by what their mother’s eat during pregnancy.  Very interesting.  Julie Mennella. Biological Psychologist Philadelphia, PI,   Monell Chemical Senses Center.

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