chapter  21
The newborn: parental responses and neonatal sensory and cognitive abilities
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 16

Most newborns are highly alert and responsive in the first 45-90 minutes, postulated to maximize attachment between those present at and immediately following the birth. With the phasing out of home births, wide geographical mobility and insularity of nuclear families, relatively few adults in western societies have ever encountered newborn babies. Neonatal research has scientifically confirmed what many nurses and mothers have realized for generations, that from the moment of birth, babies are far more sophisticated and discriminating in their behaviour than they have been given credit for. The newborn has the capacity to see, hear, smell, suck, taste, and feel and to seek out sensory stimulation and signal for help. Findings from a wide range of empirical studies provide conclusive evidence of consciousness at birth. Good caregiving is rooted in the adult's capacity for positive unconscious identification with the infant, having successfully worked through similar developmental stages in her/his own childhood.