Discovering your baby's dominant sense can help you soothe them

Some babies need to be held all the time, while others are happy as long as they have a good view of those they love. Still others need to hear Mom's soft voice to fall asleep at night. By paying careful attention to what soothes your baby, or thinking back to what techniques worked best when your child was a baby, you should be able to identify your child's dominant sense, which will, in turn, identify their primary communication method.


Tactile babies are the babies who need to be carried all the time. When you try to hand them to someone else, like grandma or the friendly babysitter, or even when you put them down to play on the floor, they cry. They refuse to fall asleep without the soothing arms of Mom or Dad, and even when feeding, their hand will be reaching out to repetitively feel Mom's skin, or the edge of their blanky. This baby's constant need for physical touch can be very draining for parents, but as they get older and more familiar with their physical surroundings, their need for constant touch will lessen and they will become less demanding.


Though all babies are especially attentive to their parent's voices, an auditory baby is particularly sensitive and more likely than other babies to acknowledge different voices and the nuances within. As you might expect, auditory babies attach through sound, specifically to the soothing voice of his mother or other primary caregiver. When this voice is absent or when there is a sudden change in tone or volume, an auditory baby is likely to startle, become frightened and wail in protest. Having a tape of Mom's voice, and another regular sound (like a specific song) will help when Mom can't be there.


Although a newborn baby's vision develops dramatically with age, visual babies will be very attentive to the shapes they start to see, from the very beginning. These are the babies who like to see their parent's face up close and will love to study it, even when quite young. They are content to watch the activity around them, from their propped-up position. They recognize their parents primarily by their faces and bodies, and will want to be able to see their primary caregiver at all times. When they can't, they tend to feel uneasy and become upset. The visual child is happy as long as they are positioned in a way that affords them a view of those they are attached to.


Taste/smell babies crave the closeness of their primary caregiver. Like tactile children, they like to be held as much as possible, but are able to be put down. They respond to the emotions around them, and very sensitive to the emotions of the person caring for them. If their caregiver is nervous or fearful, the baby will often become agitated. If the caregiver is calm and confident, then the taste/smell baby will calm right down and fall asleep with ease. What this means is happy mom — happy baby.

By paying attention to what calms your baby, and when they become agitated, you will gain insights into their dominant sense. Once you know what sense they are, you will know instantly what they will need to feel calm, loved and secure.


Priscilla J. Dunstan is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of Child Sense. Learn more about Priscilla and her parenting discoveries at



(c) 2010, Priscilla J. Dunstan

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.