Have you ever wondered how your baby views the world?
Have you ever wondered what the world looks like through your little one’s eyes? They are born into this amasing new world filled with colours and objects but just how much of it do they really see?
Although none of us can physical look through the eyes of a baby to say with certainty what they experience, science and research experts have tried to describe this as accurately as possible. They have found that your baby's view of the world is quite different from what you experience. Although newborn babies might not see as well as adults do, they are nevertheless fascinated by this amasing new world around them.
A newborn's vision - up to a few weeks after birth
While babies are in their mother’s womb, they can already start to tell the difference between light and dark. Once they are born however, their vision still hasn’t fully developed yet.
A question often asked by mom’s is whether their baby can see colours. There is no definite answer to the amount of colour newborn babies can see. Over years researchers have come to different conclusions but no definitive answer is available. Until we physically can see through a newborn baby’s eyes, I don’t believe we can ever say with 100% certainty. Some believe that newborn babies only see black, white and shades of grey, whereas others believe that newborn babies do visually experience some colour although it is only very limited hues of colour which is hard to distinguish. Below is an example of what some believe a baby's vision could look like over time (Photo by Paedicare Paediatricians):
As babies' eyes haven't fully developed at birth, they are able to pick up colour but their brains can't perceive the colour as vividly or clearly as adults do yet. You will also notice how your newborn’s pupils are very small. This is to limit the amount of light that enters their eyes which are very sensitive to light given the dark protected environment the womb provided to them for months. Newborn babies are therefore more likely to open their eyes in low light. But soon, within the first two weeks their eyes will adjust, and you will notice their pupils become larger. They will now be able to pick up on a wider range of light and dark shades of colour.
Newborn babies have very blurred and fuzzy vision, and have trouble focussing. They are able to focus on objects about 20-30 cm away such as your face while nursing them. They love looking at faces and find it fascinating. Therefore, enjoy these special moments bonding with your little one. Between 1-3 months they start take in more details about your face.
Some other interesting facts about newborn babies' vision is that they do not have the ability to judge depth (distance to an object) yet. If you compare a baby’s eye to that of an adult, their eyes are very large, about 65% of their adult size, and prolate spherical in shape (more like a rugby ball standing upright).
During these early months, your baby will enjoy looking at toys or objects that have contrasting colour such as black and white, as well as patterns such as swirls or checks.
Their vision at 2-4 months old
As your baby grows and stays awake for longer periods of the day, their eyesight starts to improve. At around 2-4 months old, babies start to perceive more colours and distinguish between more shades of colour. You may also notice that they start to develop a colour preference.
This is the time during which babies normally start to follow or "track" items with their eyes and reach out with their hands. It is the start of their eye-body coordination.
As previously mentioned, babies are fascinated with faces. Throughout these earlier months they will start to recognise your face and remember things they see.
You will notice that your little one’s eyes may not work together as well as yours and they may even cross over from time to time. But don’t worry, this should go away as their eye muscles become stronger.
Their vision at 5-8 months old
As babies grow and reach the stage between 5-8 months old, their eye muscles become stronger giving them more control over their eye movement and they have developed their eye-body coordination. Around this time, babies start to develop the ability to see and judge depth, and have more three dimensional vision. Most babies start crawling around 8 months of age which further helps them improve their depth perspective and eye-body coordination.
Researchers believe that once babies are about 8 months, they can see the full spectrum of colour, although their vision may not be as sensitive and developed as an adult's.
Their vision at 9-12 months old
At this stage, your baby is completely aware of and participating in the world around them. They now have enhanced mobility and vision which they have developed over the previous months.
At around 10 months of age, babies are able to watch fast-moving objects. By the time they reach 12 months they are able to recognise themselves in the mirror and their ability to focus on objects both near and far has significantly improved.
Your little one’s vision will not get close to 20/20 until about age 3, and their depth perception will continue developing until they reach age 4 to 6 years old.
Although we will never truly know what the world looks through the eyes of our little ones, we can make sure that that every time those little eyes look at us, it is a moment we cherish for ever.
To all the moms out there who have any interesting stories to add about their little one’s vision or any questions you would like to ask, please feel free to leave some comments below.
Till the next time I see you 😉
American Optometric Association. Infant Vision: Birth to 24 months of age: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-health-for-life/infant-vision?sso=y
Dewar, G. Ph.D. The newborn senses: What can babies feel, see, hear, smell and taste? https://parentingscience.com/newborn-senses/
Pampers. When, what and how far can newborns see: https://www.pampers.com/en-us/baby/development/article/when-can-newborns-see-and-how-far
Kidshealth. Your newborn's hearing, vision and other senses: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sensenewborn.html
Healthy Children sponsored by American Association of Pediatrics Newborn eyesight: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Your-Baby's-Vision-1-Month.aspx
National Library of Medicine. The eye size and shape of newborns: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25958972/