A baby’s vision is unclear and fuzzy when he is born, and being nearsighted, babies can only see what’s near them and make out fuzzy shapes of what’s further away. The eyesight of a baby develops very fast in the next few months, and watching these changes is a significant part of your parenting journey. If you’re unsure about how your baby’s eyesight should be progressing, these tips might help you understand your baby’s vision and act accordingly to help it develop:
First Four Months
- For the first couple of weeks, the baby’s eyesight is unclear, and the eyes are uncoordinated and very sensitive to light. The baby will blink when they are brought near bright light, and their pupils do not allow much light to enter. This also means that they cannot see colour as clearly, and they can only focus on objects that are a foot away from them.
- Soon, vision starts developing when eyes start working together. The baby can now follow moving objects with their eyes and can see faces near them.
- By the age of two months, their eyes should ideally be coordinated. If they appear to be squinting or cross eyed beyond this age, consult a doctor.
- By the age of 3-4 months, babies can reach out for objects that they are tracking with their eyes - a slight hint of eye-hand coordination.
- During this time, make sure to use dim lighting in your baby’s room to avoid hurting the baby’s eyes.
- Keep toys within one feet distance of your child to encourage reaching out for them.
- Walk around the room while talking to your baby, as this makes them track your movement with their eyes.
Five to Eight Months
- Until now, your baby couldn’t understand depth, and the world was flat to his eyes, as if drawn on paper. But now, the baby is starting to develop a sense of depth and can see the world in 3D.
- Your baby’s coordination of body and eyes is improving, and around the age of 8-9 months, he can start crawling towards objects or people, based on eyesight and coordinating his movements with it.
- At this stage, hanging a mobile above your baby’s crib will allow it to reach, grab or kick things within his line of sight.
- Also allow your baby to move around on the floor - exploring depth and other new cues that he is now learning.
- Play games that involve moving the baby’s hands to a beat or rhythm based on sounds or songs, this also gives them a sense of coordination.
Nine Months to One Year
- Around this age, crawling, standing and trying to walk are common milestones your baby reaches. As a result, your baby’s eye and body coordination has to rapidly develop.
- Encourage crawling and don’t rush your baby to try walking. Crawling helps develop coordination because the baby has to use all four limbs.
- At this age, babies can start to understand distances well and they try to throw things in the direction they intend to.
- Visual memory also develops, meaning they can recognise you and to help this along, you can play peek-a-boo or similar games, helping your baby to try remembering your face after you have covered it with your hands.
One Year to 18 months
- Your baby now understands shapes and depth, and is able to play games where the blocks have to be put into the holes based on shapes.
- The baby can also point to objects when you ask them questions like “Where is your nose?” or “Where is the table?” and they begin to try doing so in pictures and books.
- To help this along, you can start naming the different objects your baby looks at or takes an interest in.
18 months to 2 Years
- Your child can now hold crayons and pencils and scribble. They can also recognise their face in the mirror and focus on both nearby and far off objects.
- Your child will be highly interested in looking around them and exploring new objects. The eye-hand coordination should have developed considerably by now as they can walk towards people or things that they see and point at objects.
- At this stage, play with blocks, big beads on a string, or a ball that rolls back and forth to encourage your child to understand depth, shapes and movement.
This is ideally how a baby’s eyesight develops. Of course, things may progress slightly faster or slower with your little one as each baby grows up differently, but if you’re worried that your little one’s eyesight is not developing at the right pace, take them to see a doctor. Signs you should watch out for include uncoordinated eyes, excessively watery eyes, itchiness, extreme light sensitivity or structural abnormalities. These should not be ignored as they could lead to visual impairments in the future.
Make sure to take your child to see an ophthalmologist when you have doubts so that you can catch problems quickly, and spend time doing activities as advised by your doctor, to help develop your child’s visual abilities.