The senses – 1 to 2 years old

Bub’s senses are developing well. The senses are giving the brain information needed to wire up different parts, like language and motor areas. This will help them learn to become more independent.


Gentle, loving touch from family is still helping bub to grow healthy emotions. Touch also gives bub’s brain information about the body which bub needs as their motor skills grow.

Give bub massages often because bub will:

  • show lower anxiety and stress levels and be in a better mood
  • sleep better and pay attention longer.

Give bub slow, light and loving touches because it:

  • keeps bub’s attachment with parents/carers strong
  • gives bub’s brain information needed to keep balance and smooth body movements.


Smell is an important way for bub to feel secure and safe as they spend more time away from their parents/carers.

Surround bub with the same pleasant and soothing smells because:

  • familiar smells are calming when bub spends time on their own
  • having objects with familiar smells comforts bub in times of change, for example a blanket or stuffed animal.


Many vision pathways of bub’s brain are wired up so bub is better at seeing in three dimensions. They can also start to understand how far away an object is.

Bub’s brain also uses their sight to help coordinate body movements.

Help bub explore with their eyes and body by giving them:

  • picture books to help bub get better at picking up detail
  • building blocks and balls of all shapes and sizes to play with to boost hand-eye coordination.


This sense needs stimulating so bub can learn to balance and reach all the motor milestones at this age.

Let bub have fun moving their body through space like rocking, swinging, spinning and tumbling because it:

  • gives the brain information so it knows which muscles need to be used to keep the body balanced
  • can help bub to pay attention longer
  • strengthens the muscles which helps bub have good posture.


Bub’s hearing is improving, but bub still cannot hear quiet sounds as well as adults, and has trouble telling sounds apart when there is background noise.

Hearing is really important because it allows bub to fully communicate and helps wire up the brain for language.

Yarn lots with bub, away from background noise because:

  • this helps bub’s brain hear what is being said
  • bub will understand and learn to say more words.

Play music or sing lullabies to bub because:

  • it helps bub’s brain notice the patterns in sounds, important for learning language
  • the emotions in music helps bub improve their ability to notice moods in others.


The world of taste really comes to life now bub is on solid foods.

While bub likes sweet and salty flavours, the brain needs to taste and get used to different food tastes and textures.

Bub’s brain also needs extra fats from food to build and wire up the brain during this growth spurt.

Let bub have lots of goes at trying different healthy foods because bub:

  • will learn to be less fearful of new foods
  • prefers familiar foods and will agree to eat things tried lots of times
  • needs fat from a variety of sources, both animal and vegetable, to help their brain grow.
Published — 01 April 2019 Last updated — 01 April 2019

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