Newborn Baby Vision Development

Baby Vision Guide – Birth to 24 Months of Age

playmat time with book

From birth, babies begin exploring the world around them with their eyes. Even before they learn to reach and grab with their hands or crawl and sit-up, their eyes are providing information and stimulation important for their development.

Parents play an important role in helping to assure their child’s eyes and vision can develop properly. Steps that any parent should take include:

• Watching for signs of eye and vision problems

• Having a professional eye check at about 6 months of age

• Helping their child develop his or her vision by engaging in age-appropriate activities. eg. providing hIgh-contrasting black-and-white images, which are easiest for baby to see in the first three months of life, is a good start for nurturing baby’s visual development.

Significant improvement occurs during the first few months of life. The following are some milestones to watch for in vision and child development. It is important to remember that not every child is the same and some may reach certain milestones at different ages.

Vision – Birth to four months

From birth to about 3 months of age, babies’ eyes do not focus on objects more than 8 to 10 inches from their faces.While they may look intently at highly-contrasted images or objects, they have not yet developed the ability to easily tell the difference between two objects or move their eyes between the two images. Their primary focus is on objects 8 to 10 inches from their face or mum and dad’s faces.

During the first months of life, the eyes start working together and vision rapidly improves. Eye-hand coordination begins to develop as the infant starts tracking moving objects with his or her eyes and reaching for them. By eight weeks, babies begin to more easily focus their eyes on the faces of a parent or other person near them.

For the first two months of life, an infant’s eyes are not well coordinated and may appear to wander or to be crossed. This is usually normal. However, if an eye appears to turn in or out constantly, an evaluation is warranted.

Babies should begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things at around three months of age.

Vision – Five to eight months

During these months, control of eye movements and eye-body coordination skills continue to improve.

Depth perception, which is the ability to judge if objects are nearer or farther away than other objects, is not present at birth. It is not until around the fifth month that the eyes are capable of working together to form a three-dimensional view of the world and begin to see in depth.

Although an infant’s colour vision is not as sensitive as an adult’s, it is generally believed that babies have good colour vision by five months of age.

Most babies start crawling at about 8 months old, which helps further develop eye-hand-foot-body coordination. Early walkers who did minimal crawling may not learn to use their eyes together as well as babies who crawl a lot.

Vision – Nine to twelve months

By the age of nine to twelve months, babies should be using their eyes and hands together. At around 9 months of age, babies begin to pull themselves up to a standing position. By 10 months of age, a baby should be able to grasp objects with thumb and forefinger.

By twelve months of age, most babies will be crawling and trying to walk. Parents should encourage crawling rather than early walking to help the child develop better eye-hand coordination. Babies can now judge distances fairly well and throw things with precision.

One to two years old

By two years of age, a child’s eye-hand coordination and depth perception should be well developed. Children this age are highly interested in exploring their environment and in looking and listening. They recognise familiar objects and pictures in books and can scribble with crayon or pencil.

What Parents Can do to Help With Visual Development

There are many things parents can do to help their baby’s vision develop properly. The following are some examples of age-appropriate activities that can assist an infant’s visual development.

Birth to four months

Read or tell stories to nurture and stimulate baby’s visual development and pave the way for learning and reading skills. HIgh-contrasting black-and-white books or images are easiest for baby to see at this age.
Keep toys within your baby’s focus, about eight to twelve inches.
Talk to your baby as you walk around the room.
Alternate right and left sides with each feeding.

Five to eight months

Give the baby plenty of time to play and explore on the floor.
Play patty cake and other games, moving the baby’s hands through the motions while saying the words aloud.

Nine to twelve months

Play hide and seek games with toys or your face to help the baby develop visual memory.
Name objects when talking to encourage the baby’s word association and vocabulary development skills.
Encourage crawling.

One to two years

Roll a ball back and forth to help the child track objects with the eyes visually.
Give the child building blocks and balls of all shapes and sizes to play with to boost fine motor skills and small muscle development.