Newborns have open eyes, sensitive ears, and re- sponsive noses, tongues, and skin. Throughout their first year, infants use these senses to sort and classify their many experiences. Indeed, "infants spend the better part of their first year merely looking around" (Rovee-Collier, 2001, p. 35). They also listen, smell, taste, and touch anything they can. occurs when a sensory system detects a stimulus, as when the inner ear reverberates Because sensation precedes perception.with sound or the retina and pupil of the eye intercept light. Thus, sensations begin when an outer organ (eye, ear, nose, tongue, or skin) meets anything that can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched. Vision is the least mature sense at birth. Although the eyes open in mid-pregnancy and are sensitive to bright light (if the pregnant woman is sunbathing in a bikini, for instance), the fetus has nothing much to see. Newborns are "legally blind"; they focus only on objects between 4 and 30 inches (10 and 75 centimeters) away (Bornstein et al., 2005).
Soon experience combines with maturation of the visual cortex to improve the ability to see shapes and then notice details. By 2 months, infants look more intently at a human face and, tentatively and fleetingly, smile in response to it.
Over time, visual scanning becomes more organized, extensive, and efficient; it centers on important points. Thus, 3-month-olds look more closely than younger