The first of the five senses to develop in utero is touch. As early as eight weeks into your pregnancy your baby can already feel touch on her lips and cheeks. At birth, touch will be the most advanced of all senses (Abraira & Ginty 2013). Your baby will be extremely sensitive to skin contact – the skin will be used for the first significant impressions of life: warm/cold, soft/hard. It is through this sense that you will be able to pacify and comfort your baby, when holding him or her close to the warmth of your body in your arms. Your baby’s sense of touch develops from the top down, with the strongest sense of touch in the mouth (Mc Glone et al. 2014) – one of the reasons why babies explore new objects by putting them in their mouths. This will also provide your baby with the much needed sucking reflex, ensuring survival.
Abraira, V.E. & Ginty, D.D., 2013, “The Sensory Neurons of Touch”, Neuron 79(4), 618-39.
Mc Glone, F., Wessberg, J. & Olausson, H., 2014, “Discriminative and Affective Touch: Sensing and Feeling”, Neuron 82, 737-755.