As your baby grows, they will start to take more in from the world around them, developing face recognition and colour recognition. Help your baby develop their eyesight quicker!
Unlike hearing, your baby’s eyesight will take a little time to
fully develop after they’re born. As your baby grows, they will start to take
more in from the world around them, developing face recognition and colour
It’s exciting to watch them develop in this way as they start to
identify different faces, foods and favourite toys!
What can my
When your baby is first born, their eyesight will be blurry and
unclear. They won’t be able to pick out specific details but they will be able
to make out solid shapes, light, dark, and movement around them.
To start with your baby will only be able to see about 8 to 20
centimetres in front of them, which is just the right distance to be able to
make out your face and smile when you’re holding them. Baby’s first learn to
smile by imitation, so be sure to hold your baby where they can see you and as
their eyesight becomes clearer in the first month, you’ll notice them start to
copy you and smile back when you smile at them.
Although your baby can see colour from birth, distinguishing
similar colours like red and orange is not so clear for babies when they’re
newborn. But they can make out high contract images and patterns quite well.
Strong contrast black and white picture books and graphic cards are great for
babies at this stage as they can make them out clearer than other high
How will my
baby’s eyesight develop?
Your baby’s eyesight will continue to develop and improve from
birth up until they’re about 8 months old. By the time they are 8 months, their
eyesight should be fully developed and they’ll be able to see just as well as
Some eyesight development milestones to look out for:
- Two Months Old- by this stage your baby will have learnt to focus their eyes in
unison and use them to look around them and look at you. As your baby’s eyes
develop you will notice them following you around the room or tracking objects
you move in front of them - try using bright toys or high contrast black and white
image cards that will be easier for them to see and track.
- Four Months Old- as mentioned above, babies struggle to tell the difference
between similar colours at first, preferring high contract images. Between the
ages of three and four months, colour differences become much clearer and your
baby will be able to identify and distinguish between different colours and
shades. Around this time you’ll probably notice your baby start to show a
preference towards brightly coloured and patterned toys and items.
- Six Months Old - around this time you’ll notice your baby develop better depth
perception, and they’ll be able to tell how far away things are and get better
at reaching for items and picking them up. This will probably be most
noticeable when there is food around! They’ll also be developing better control
of their arms, and muscle develop will mean they become more coordinated when
reaching for things. Their ability to pick out different colours will also be
much more developed, and they’ll be able to confidently track objects around
the room and watch you as you move about.
- Eight Months Old - by the time your baby is 8 months old they will have fully
developed eyesight - as good as yours! Providing they do not have any vision
impairments, they will be able to identify you from across a room, pick out
different objects by sight and confidently distinguish colours. Their long-sight
will not be quite as good as their short-sight just yet, but will continue to
develop for a few more months.
As with all development milestones, some babies do develop
differently, and you might find your baby being able to do some of the above
before the suggested age milestone, or it might take them a little bit longer.
All babies are different and as long as you see progress and engagement, you
should have nothing to worry about.
Your doctor and midwife will also carry out simple eye tests
during the early stages to pick up on anything that needs correcting at this
What can I do
to support my baby’s eyesight development?
There are lots of different ways to help your baby and support
their eyesight development, once you know what they can see, and what they will
respond to best. Helping your baby with this side of their development is about
being engaging, interactive and fun too!
A few things you can try include:
of face-time - at an early age babies show a preference for human faces over
patterns and designs - they enjoy the engagement and learning from your
expressions! Keep your face close to your baby and make silly faces at them so
they can pick up the movements, and over time study your facial features. Try
poking your tongue out at your baby and get no ends of enjoyment watching their
surprise, and how they try to copy you!
the biggest thing your baby can detect from early on is movement and shifts in
light and dark. Try moving objects back and forth and up and down in front of
them - start with high contract cards and try different objects/coloured shapes
as your baby grows. You’ll see their eye coordination strengthen as they track
with light - peek-a-boo is a great game that all babies love to play - you
can try it with a soft, light blanket or just by placing your hands gently over
your baby’s eyes. The contrast between light and dark will help strengthen your
baby’s eyes and aid their ability to focus too.
- as your baby grows, their eyesight will development will see them taking a
preference to bright primary colours - which works well as most baby toys come
in these colours! Try bright mobiles above their bed and coloured posters
around their room and play areas and see how they interact and focus on these
things as they grow.
signs should I look out for?
As mentioned above, your doctor and midwife will do basic eye
tests to start with to check your baby’s eyesight and make sure there are no
underlying problems that need to be addressed. Some things are quite common at
a young age, like eye coordination, and many babies experience something
referred to as a ‘wandering eye’ where they struggle to focus and coordinate
one eye with the other. This is easily corrected when identified early on with
baby glasses and your doctor will advise you of next steps and care when
More complex visual impairments such as near or far sightedness
can’t be detected until a little later on when your baby is a bit older but
some things to keep an eye out for that could be a sign of visual impairment
Inability to track an object you
move in front of them (from around four months)
Inability to focus on your face
when you’re in front of them
Difficulty moving one or both of
If your baby’s eyes are crossed a
lot of the time and your baby struggles to correct them
If one of their eyes is wandering
If you spot any of these signs with your baby’s eyes - speak to
your doctor or midwife who can carry out further checks and put corrective
measures in place if needed. Picking up on these things early on, gives your
doctor the best chance of ensuring they don’t progress and become worse.
As always, every baby is different and development is not one size
fits all! As long as your baby is engaged, happy and responsive, then you
should have nothing to worry about.
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