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Family Matters: Baby’s Vision


Baby’s VisionMy best friend’s daughter is going to have a baby any day now, and they’re both beyond excited (rightly so!).

My best friend’s love language is decorating. She’s helped her daughter prepare the nursery, painting the walls the perfect shade of light, smoky blue, hanging vintage toy airplanes from the mobile over the crib, and framing antique maps for the walls to complete a theme of travel and adventure for her new grandson.

He’ll love it in a few months, but in the early days and weeks, your baby can’t see very well. Unlike hearing which is completely developed by the end of baby’s first month, vision takes longer to form. In fact, when baby is born, his vision is about 20/400, and he can’t see color well. It will take 6 to 8 months to fully mature.

Initially, baby can see about the distance from his face to yours when you’re cuddling him.

He might not be able to make both eyes move in tandem in that first month, so don’t be alarmed if they cross or wander randomly. They’ll get stronger as he develops. Lock eyes with your baby and move them back and forth. It will help him learn to do the same.

While baby can see color, he might not be able to distinguish tones. This is why he likes high contrast patterns in black and white over pastel pictures. He’ll also like bright, primary colors and objects that are all one color.

Baby also doesn’t have very good depth-perception. He might reach for your nose and grasp the air several inches in front of your face. This will start to come together around the 4-month mark. You can help him by handing him an easy-to-grasp toy, like a rattle. Have him reach for it and take it in his grasp. Position it differently, so he has to look for it in different places.

Baby’s favorite thing to look at is your face. Let him spend lots of time gazing at you. He might also like a mirror and might start to recognize himself during the latter half of his first year.

Eye exams are part of every well baby checkup. Make sure to let your pediatrician know if either of baby’s parents have serious vision problems or a family history of vision problems.


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