VISUAL DEVELOPMENT:

BIRTH TO 4 MONTHS

Focus takes time

Throughout the first 8 weeks of life, your baby is still learning how to make their eyes work together[1]. You will notice that your baby cannot track objects as they move or move their eyes easily from one object to another.

8-week-old infants can point their eyes (converge) at objects that are approximately 15 centimeters away from their face. This will be too difficult if the objects are closer than 15 centimeters[2].

It may be normal for the eyes to sometimes wander or appear cross-eyed. Do make sure to mention to a health professional at one of your review appointments if an eye appears to turn in or out some or all the time[3].

As eye-hand coordination develops, your baby starts tracking moving objects with his or her eyes and reaching for them. If you do not notice this happening consistently by age 3 months, talk with your paediatrician[4].

At around 4 months of age, babies have now developed clearer vision and the ability to change fixation from one object to another without moving their head[5]

Seeing close, seeing far

Babies cannot see very well far away, and in fact, can only see close to start off with. At birth, your baby will have blurry vision, do not be concerned if your baby is not making direct eye contact with you[6].

By about 8 weeks they will begin to focus their eyes more easily on faces near them[3].

Your baby should blink in response to bright light[6].

At 1 month, their tears begin to work[1].

Recognising patterns & colours

At birth, your baby can only see in black and white.

As they grow, they develop the ability to see light and dark variations[1], and you will see your baby start to take an interest in objects with high contrast, black-and-white patterns.

[1] Eye Concerns in New Babies, About Kids Health (Oct 2009), https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=456&language=English

[2] Vision in infants, Brianna McGee, Rachel Wu, Ph.D. University of California, Riverside

[3] Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age, American Optometric Association (2021), from https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-health-for-life/infant-vision?sso=y

[4] Vision Development: Newborn to 12 months, American Academy of Ophthalmology (2021), https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/baby-vision-development-first-year

[5]Plano; A timeline of Your Infant’s Vision Development, Oct, 2019, https://www.plano.co/a-timeline-of-your-infants-vision-development-2/

[6] Bowman R. Assessing vision in a baby. Community Eye Health. 2016;29(93):16-17.

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