Newborns aren’t born with the visual abilities that we have.
Healthy newborn eyes will have all the structures they need to see, but they must ‘learn to see’ and process visual stimuli. This includes focusing their eyes, moving them, and using them together to process the visual information around them ie developing binocular vision.
Baby Eye Development. Ability to See Colours
There are a lot of changes happening with a baby’s vision in their first 12 months. It is important to remember that not every baby is the same, and each may reach certain milestones at slightly different ages.
In the womb, babies can differentiate between light and dark tones.
At birth, babies can see black, white and grey. They follow the lines where light and dark tones meet to see shapes.
By the first week, babies begin to respond to movement and learn to focus on your face. Smiling when you come near is an important sign that your baby both sees and recognises you.
By several weeks old, babies see their first primary colour – red.
At 10-12 weeks old, colour vision develops and babies will usually be able to see the full spectrum of colours by the time they are three months old. They will likely be attracted to bold colours and geometric patterns, and their eyes will follow moving objects.
At 4 – 6 months, depth perception and eye-hand coordination begins to develop. Babies begins to reach out and touch an object, and their eyesight becomes crucial in their ability to coordinate movements to enable them to learn to stand and walk.
At 8 – 12 months, a baby’s ability to connect what they see to their movement and memory is noticeably stronger. You will see them pick up objects and grasp them with their thumb and forefinger, rolling or throwing objects, or even feed themselves. They will also begin to pull themselves up into a standing position, often at around 9 months, as their coordination develops.
How Parents Can Help
As your child grows, be sure to:
- Watch your baby for signs of eye and vision problems.
- Book your child’s first comprehensive vision assessment at about 6 months of age with an eye professional.
- Help your baby develop hand-eye coordination with age appropriate activities
Eleni Fegan is the founder and Managing Editor of DearBub Blog and Magazine which began from a personal journey of research and healing. Her motivation for DearBub is beautifully summarised in her Editor’s Letter: “I realised that there is beauty to giving voice to our experiences, and raising an awareness that we are not alone in them. I realised the immense power that ‘sharing’ had in transforming our sense of self and being through creating connection”.