Your baby learns about the world through the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures in the environment.
How Well Can My Baby See?
Your baby's eyesight has been maturing for many months, and he or she is able to see quite well near and far and even focus on quickly moving objects. Your baby's motor skills are now working together with eyesight (hand-eye coordination), and it's likely that he or she can spot a toy across the room, focus on it, move to it, pick it up, and explore it in lots of ways.
Familiar and loving faces are still your baby's favorite things to look at, but he or she also may enjoy looking at pictures in books, especially familiar images. Your baby may love objects with parts or pieces that move, and will spend lots of time staring at and manipulating these things, trying to figure out how or why they work. Take your baby with you to see new and interesting places. Point out the sights and label them by name.
Does My Baby Understand What I Say?
Your baby's been listening to you since before birth and is starting to know common words, such as ball, cup, and bottle.
You'll also know you're being heard and understood when you ask "Where's Daddy?" and your baby looks his way; or you say "Go find the ball" and he or she crawls right to it. Your baby should already respond well to his or her own name and look up (and at least pause) when you say "No!"
Labeling simple objects during the course of the day reinforces the message that everything has its own name. Your baby is learning what familiar objects are called and storing this information away until the time when he or she can form the words.
During this period, your baby will be making more and more recognizable sounds, such as "ga," "ba," and "da." By now your baby is putting these sounds together to make words like dada or baba. Soon your baby will make the link between the sounds and specific objects.
By the end of the first year, your baby should:
- be responding well to simple requests from you ("Wave bye-bye")
- have at least one true word in his or her vocabulary and say mama and dada
- be making some babbling attempts at real conversation
Taste and Smell
By this age, your baby is developing food preferences. Keep offering foods with a variety of tastes and smells, and don't give up if he or she doesn't take to it right away. It can take 10 tries or more before a baby learns to like new food.
Explore the sense of smell with your baby, too. Use scents to help your baby understand the world further. A trip outside can provide a wide variety, from the sweet scent of flowers to the distinctive smell of just-cut grass.
Your baby is getting around more independently as he or she learns to scoot, crawl, or walk. This means your baby can go and touch the things he or she wants to touch. After making sure there are no hot, sharp, or other dangerous things that can hurt your baby and no small objects that can be put in the mouth, let your baby explore the textures and surfaces of your home and yard.
Let your baby find out how that banana gets mushy on the highchair tray, and that ice cubes feel hard and cold. Find some sandpaper and let your baby rub a hand gently over its coarse surface, then move that hand to the smooth coolness of a stainless-steel sink.
Of course, your loving touch is still the most important touch your baby knows, so give your baby hugs and kisses each chance you get.
Should I Be Worried?
You've probably addressed any concerns you've had about your baby's eyesight already. But be sure to talk with your doctor if you notice any problems, including:
- eyes that always wander in or out or don't move together
- inability to see or recognize distant objects or people
- regular tearing, discharge, crusting, or redness of eyes
- frequent squinting or sensitivity to light
- droopy eyelids
- too much eye rubbing or scratching
If you're worried about how your baby hears, don't wait to tell your doctor, especially if you feel your baby is not babbling, imitating sounds, or responding to you or noises in the environment.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: December 2014