mother holding newborn baby
newborns

seeing the world through your baby's eyes: a guide to their visual development

3 minutes

One of the greatest joys of parenting is watching your baby ‘see’ things for the first time. Whether it’s a smile of recognition at mommy or fascination with their own reflection, their amazement at the world around them makes you see the world afresh too.

‘I remember when Patrick was completely fascinated by a robin sitting on our windowsill one morning,’ says dad, Matt. ‘He was pointing and smiling as he watched him flit around the garden. It was so lovely knowing he was starting to see the world as we do and makes you realize how much interesting stuff there is right on our doorstep.’

Babies aren’t born with full vision, so you may be wondering when your baby can see color, or just see things clearly in general. To give you an idea of what they can see and when, here’s a guide of typical visual development (although please remember all babies grow at their own rate).

How does baby’s vision develop?

Birth

Your baby will be able to see, but their vision won’t be focused1.

2 weeks old

Your baby should now be able to focus on a colorful object or your face, if it’s no more than 8 inches away1.

3 months

For the first three months, you’ll notice your baby following moving objects and recognizing objects. They will start to see color too - red at first - so help stimulate and engage them with brightly colored toys2.

5 months

By five months babies begin to see clearly and should be able to differentiate between all the colors. Around this age, depth perception and eye-hand coordination begin to develop, which helps babies see clearly, so you may notice them reaching out to touch things more2.

1 year old

By the time babies reach one year, the connection between eyes, movement and memory is strong and by now you should see a big improvement in your baby’s attempts to do things like roll a ball and pick up small toys2.

Concerns over baby’s eyesight

‘Ivy kept going cross-eyed when she was really little and it scared me,’ says mom, Lucy. ‘But I checked with my health visitor who assured me it was very normal, and sure enough, it stopped happening when she was about 8 weeks or so.’

Babies’ eyes are not always well-co-ordinated with each other at first, so if you notice their eyes wandering or becoming crossed in the first two months, it probably isn’t anything to worry about3.

Of course, if you do have any concerns about your baby’s sight, such as a lack of response to visual stimuli, always consult a healthcare professional.

For more information on important milestones in your baby’s development, read our wide range of articles on everything from encouraging your toddler to talk to potty training tips.

Resources

  1. NHS. Getting to know your newborn.

  2. Bausch+Lomb. Your Baby's Eye Development.

  3. AOA. Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age

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