Although most babies are born with the ability to see, it takes time for their eyes to learn to work together and for their brains to learn how to interpret what their eyes are showing them.
Over time, your baby will learn to focus on selected objects, track movements, discern between colors, and develop depth perception.
At birth, most infants are able to see to the sides (peripheral vision) but can only focus on stationary objects that are very close in front of them, usually within 8-10 inches. This gives a baby a good view of mom’s or dad’s face during feedings.
Newborn babies can see contrasts between black and white. They cannot immediately distinguish between all colors, but the ability to see color develops very rapidly.
After one week, most babies can see red, orange, yellow and green. Vision for blue and violet develops slightly later.
At birth, a baby’s eyes are very sensitive to light, so his pupils will be very constricted to limit how much light reaches his retina. Researchers call the amount of light needed for a person to notice that the presence of this light the “light detection threshold.”
A one-month old baby has a light detection threshold that is 50 times higher than that of an adult. This means it takes a big change in light levels for a baby to notice that a light has been turned on.
By age three months, baby’s light detection threshold drops to just 10 times higher than that of an adult.
During his first few months, a baby’s eyes start learning how to work together. It is normal for the eyes to occasionally appear crossed at this age as they learn how to focus and follow movements.
By the end of three months, most babies are able to follow moving objects with their eyes and begin reaching for things they can see.
You can encourage your baby’s vision development by giving him interesting things to look at.
• Hang a colorful mobile over his crib. Be sure to include a variety of shapes and colors.
• Position a shatterproof mirror where he can look at his own face.
• Change his view – alternate sides while feeding and use a play mat or gym during tummy time to stimulate his vision.