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Activities to Awaken Baby’s Five Senses and Support Cognitive Development

Activities to Awaken Baby’s Five Senses and Support Cognitive Development

Babies’ brain development is supported through exercising their five senses. Pediatrician and Enfamil’s 360 Development Expert, Dr. Mona Amin, shares advice on how to further foster baby’s cognitive development through sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

Medically reviewed by a board-certified pediatrician

In my role in Enfamil’s Village of Experts as their 360 Infant Development Expert, I am passionate about educating families on all aspects of development, especially building baby’s brain! That’s why I’ve partnered with Enfamil, #1 trusted infant formula brand in brain-building and immune support.

Before your baby even begins to speak or crawl, their development is significantly blossoming. Social and emotional development (the bond they create with a caregiver) and cognitive development (their understanding of the world and how it works) lays the foundation for their early growth.

A baby learns through their five senses, helping them build their cognitive development through what they see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. By visually tracking objects, touching different textures, hearing new sounds, or smelling and tasting new foods, our babies are learning about their world and piecing together their environment in their brain.

In baby’s early years, you can foster their five senses and support cognitive development in the following ways:


Your baby will begin looking around more and more as they move through their newborn weeks. By one month, they will be very interested in objects around them, building their brain through the things they identify through sight and sound. By hearing and seeing items or people, babies can absorb information about the world around them which is a major part of cognitive development.



Ways to foster sight and hearing as early as one-month-old:

  •  While doing tummy time, place black and white contrast images at eye-level for them to notice the shapes and design
  • Allow them to track objects! You can introduce a rattle into their visual field and move it from one side to the other
  • Shake a rattle near their ears to grab their attention and foster their sense of hearing.
  • Face your baby and speak to them so they can see your mouth and look into their eyes so they can practice focusing on you and hearing you


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Touch promotes cognitive growth by introducing various textures and temperatures to baby’s environment, which provides the cognitive building blocks to process the world around them.


Ways to foster touch, starting at 4-months-old:

  • Bring items to their hands for them to touch and play with
  • Put the items just out of reach so they have to figure out how to move their body to grab it, to exercise their cognitive development
  • Introduce various textures like crinkle bags, paper, squishy toys, or silks
  • Allow them to touch items in their environment, such as playing with food or dirt, pulling grass and touching sand


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Foster taste and smell with the foods you eat in your home. When they start eating solid foods, get ready to explore flavors. This will not only help diversify their palate, but also help build their cognitive development. By tasting and smelling new things, they learn about what they like and don’t like, what’s unfamiliar and familiar, and about the various new things in their environment. Cognitive development is learning about their world through their senses.


Ways to foster taste/smell, starting at 4 to 6 months:

  • Cook in your home with aromatic spices and allow them to watch you in the kitchen
  • Once they start solid foods, allow them to experience various foods with different flavors and seasonings
  • When lighting candles or experiencing smells, verbalize and label them for your baby. If it’s a smell you love, say that and why you love it.
  • If you smell something not so pleasurable like trash as you walk down the street, verbalize it too


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The Five Senses & Infant Development

Infant development can seem daunting, but so much of it is intertwined into our daily lives. By fostering their senses, you will continue to foster their brains, motor skills and so much more.

To find more information on supporting baby’s growth and development, like how to support baby’s social and emotional development or the brain benefits of floor time, check out the Village of Experts – a science-backed resource hub with expert-curated advice, supported by the #1 trusted infant formula brand by parents and pediatricians.

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.