On birth, a baby’s eyesight is poor. Vision development in childhood is not an immediate process, it’s one that takes time. Normal vision development in infants takes nearly 24 months. However, if it takes longer, do not panic. It’s only normal. Unlike the weather, not everything is predictable. Over the vision development phase: babies’ learn how to focus, move and use their eyes completely. These small tasks are milestones in vision development in infants. Vision development in childhood is extremely important. Monitoring it can give you an insight into any potential baby eyesight problems thus, allowing you to take corrective action immediately when the problem arises. Parents have to keep an eye for signs of vision problems in their babies’. To help you do just that, we have curated a well-structured article below!
Table Of Contents
1. Infant Vision Development Timeline
1.1 0-4 Months
1.2 5-8 Months
1.3 9-12 Months
1.4 12-24 Months (1-2 year)
2. Signs Of Vision Problems In Babies
3. Parents Role In Baby’s Vision Development
Infant Vision Development Timeline
The infant vision development timeline is divided into four phases across 24 months. Each phase constitutes a ‘vision development milestone’ to which normal vision development of the baby can be compared.
(a) 0-4 Months: Vision development in childhood begins at this stage. At this age, it’s hard for babies to distinguish between two items. Moreover, shifting the focus from one object to another is an equally daunting task for them. Within the first four months, babies should learn how to use their eyes collectively, together. Sometime between the end of the third month and beginning of the fourth month- hand-eye coordination starts to develop and babies tend to use this newly learnt skill of theirs to reach out for their favourite toys.
Milestones in vision development: Learning to focus and use the eyes together.
(b) 5-8 Months: By the fifth month, babies can successfully differentiate between two colours. Also, it’s at this point of time in life when hand-eye coordination is still being developed by the baby that depth perception also tends to take form in their life. Babies aren’t born into a 3D world, they grow into one through the formation of depth perception. By the eighth month, your baby should have entered the real 3D world!
Milestones in vision development: Colour-differentiation and depth perception
(c) 9-12 Months: Generally, by the ninth month, babies can crawl about and even pull themselves up erect to maintain a standing position. Now here’s something interesting. As parents, you dream of the day that your child walks on their own two feet. Exciting as that may be, it should not be forced. Research has shown that babies should be allowed to crawl for as long as possible as it helps them master their hand-eye coordination. Another important vision development cue at this stage is the baby’s ability to correctly judge distances.
Milestones in vision development: Mastering hand-eye coordination
(d) 12-24 Months: By the time your child turns two, their vision development phase should be complete. Its completion will be marked by complete mastering of the child’s depth perception and hand-eye coordination. This can be seen through the child’s growing interests, hobbies and activities.
Milestones in vision development: Complete development of depth perception and hand-eye coordination.
Normal vision development in infants takes 24 months. In some cases, the process is slightly stretched out. But once the ‘infant vision development timeline’ phases pass, keep an eye out for baby eyesight problems and signs of vision problems in babies.
Signs Of Vision Problems In Babies
Touchwood. Most babies do not suffer from visual deficiencies at birth. Eye ailments are directly correlated to one’s age. Baby eyesight problems are rare and vision development in childhood is mostly normal. However, no life is absolutely free from risk and some babies, however unfortunate as it may seem, suffer from eye-ailments. The normal vision development process doesn’t take place and problems creep up. As parents, it’s your duty to keep an eye out for such baby eyesight problems and notice the signs of vision problems in babies early on itself.
Extreme Cases Of Tearing: A possible indication of blocked tear ducts.
Red Eyes/Eyelids: Possibly a sign of an eye infection.
Uncontrollable Eye Turning: Possible indication of loss of control over the eye muscles.
Ultrasensitive To Light: Possible indication of excessive pressure in the eye.
White Pupil: Possible indicator of eye cancer.
Parents Role In Baby’s Vision Development
Normal vision development - that’s the dream of every parent. Parents should focus on their infant’s vision development in childhood and keep an eye out for any potential bad eyesight problems that may arise. There’s a lot that parents can do to ensure that the normal vision development in childhood plays its course. Given below are certain things that parents can do to ensure that their child hits the milestones in vision development on time:
‣ Install a dim light source in your baby’s room (0-4 months).
‣ Make it a practice to change the crib’s positioning in the room and consequently, the position of your child within the crib too (0-4 months).
‣ Position toys and other play things close to the child, a distance that the child’s eyes can focus till and allow him/her to reach out and pick the toys. For the first four months, babies eyes can only focus on things that are 8-10 inches away (0-4 months).
‣ Yes, your baby cannot understand what you have to say but still, make sure that you often talk to your baby while taking them on walks (0-4 months).
‣ Surround the crib with toys and other play-stuffs that the baby can play with or pull around (5-8 months).
‣ Alleviate your fears. Allow your baby to explore the floor and play for as long as possible. By exploring the floor, we do not mean you let them pick up dirty things and put it in their mouth. Simply put: give your baby space to grow (5-8 months).
‣ Whether your baby likes it or not, give them plastic or wooden objects to hold in their hands (5-8 months).
‣ Practice playing games with them which involve hand-eye coordination or hand-feet movement (5-8 months).
‣ Start playing other games that focus on developing the baby’s visual memory (9-12 months).
‣ Start naming objects by their actual name rather than calling them by other names. For example; call an apple, an apple; a stuffed toy bear, a bear etc. The objective of this is to develop the baby’s word association skills through visual reinforcement (9-12 months).
‣ Allow crawling. Even encourage crawling, there’s nothing wrong in that (9-12 months).
‣ Start including your child in some exercises that involve a constant movement of the eyes. An example of one such game: roll a pen back and forth repetitively (12-24 months).
‣ Encourage games that develop the child’s motor skills (12-24 months).
‣ Set a story-telling time and strictly adhere to the routine. Narrate all kinds of different stories to your child. The objective is to stimulate creativity and imagination while also, paving the way for future reading and writing (12-24 months).
To repeat oneself: the infant vision development timeline is spread across 4 phases, over 24 months. The process in itself is a relatively straightforward process. It can be accelerated or assisted through timely parental assistance. Vision development in childhood is not just important, it’s almost necessary. Since baby eyesight problems are so rare, signs of vision problems in babies must be constantly looked out for Lastly, the 24 months timeline isn’t a standardized timeline. Some babies may experience visual development quicker than what’s suggested in this article and some may experience it later. If such insecurities still rob you off your sleep, just go ahead and visit a doctor!