A person looking into their newborn baby's eyes to represent vision development the first few months after birth.

Your newborn’s vision in the first month

Unlike Baby’s hearing, his vision takes a while to develop, and should be tracked throughout the first few months.

What the vision of your newborn may be like

Newborns can only see blurry shapes because they are nearsighted, so his best vision is 8 to 12 inches (about 20-30 cm) away. During this time, Baby loves to look at faces, including yours and his own, so be sure to interact frequently.

World of color:

Color vision is also developing in the first month, and by a week old, Baby will be able to see red, orange, yellow, and green. Blues and violets take longer for newborns because these colors have shorter wavelengths. Brightly colored wall hangings and toys help him to distinguish color and form, but if you want your baby to appreciate your decorating skills, steer clear of pastels, since they’re difficult for him to appreciate. Patterns and high contrast objects, like checkerboards and concentric circles, are also quite visible, and good for Baby’s eye development. Lighter tones, on the other hand, will be harder for Baby make out for a while.

Wandering eyes:

During Baby’s first months, his eyes have a difficult time distinguishing between two items and moving between two images. It takes time for Baby to actually learn to see, because his two eyes need to learn to work together. Baby’s eyes may wander or cross, but should focus and be able to track objects after the first month or so. His eyes are also much less sensitive to light than yours, so don’t worry about leaving lights on in the nursery. Make sure to get Baby’s eyes checked at every wellness visit, and discuss any potential issues or questions with the doctor.


Sources
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Infant development: Birth to 3 months.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, June 25 2014. Web.
  • “Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age.” American Optometric Association. American Optometric Association. Web.
  • “Newborn Eyesight.” HealthyChildren. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Web.

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