Development of senses

How the senses of a baby develop

Around 7-8 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby is sensitive to touch in the area around the mouth.
  • Taste receptors on the tongue are formed.


Around 12-14 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby can put his or her thumb into the mouth for sucking.
  • Baby’s hands open.


Around 20 weeks of gestation:

  • Hearing structures develop.


Around 24 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby is sensitive to touch all over the body, especially around the mouth. Touching the inside of the hand triggers a grasp reflex.
  • Baby can detect different flavours in the amniotic fluid due to maternal diet, which may influence taste preferences later in life.


Around 26-27 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby reacts to bitter taste.
  • Baby starts to move in response to sounds.


Around 28-29 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby grasps with his/her toes when someone touches the ball of the foot.
  • Baby distinguishes sweet and sour tastes.
  • Baby is able to distinguish between voices and is most aware of low frequency sounds. Sleep can be easily disturbed.
  • Only little or no pupillary constriction. The eyelids are thin and eyes may be partly open much of the time.


Around 32 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby recognises the mother’s voice.
  • Pupils constrict in response to light and may therefore protect the eye from bright light.


Around 34 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby prefers sweet tastes.
  • Baby may recognise familiar sounds and begins to ignore some sounds that previously disturbed sleep.
  • Baby starts to look at and follow a moving object or face but does not recognise objects yet. Low light is optimal for interactions.


Around 35-40 weeks of gestation:

  • Baby begins to recognise mother’s voice, language and speech pattern.
  • At 39 to 40 weeks of gestation baby can fix and follow moving object in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal direction and sees greyscales. After 40 weeks of gestation vision develops fast.