Your baby enters this big, exciting, colorful world able to actually see very little of it. Just like your infant’s motor skills and verbal skills, vision takes time to develop.
Your delivering physician will examine your child’s eyes for any neonatal problems and usually apply an antibiotic ointment to avoid eye infections caused by bacteria in the birth canal.
When your newborn first opens her eyes after arriving, she doesn’t see in color. Her vision is just like an old black and white movie, and she’ll be most interested in the areas of sharpest contrast, where light meets dark. She’ll have difficulty focusing on objects farther than 8-10” away. When you hold and talk to your newborn, your face is about 4-6” away from hers, quickly leading to her preference for your face over anyone else.
Your newborn’s eye are about 50 times less sensitive to light than yours, so leaving a nightlight on won’t interfere with sleep patterns.
When your child is about one week old, he’ll be able to see red, orange, yellow and green. Blues and purples will come a little later.
During the first month or so, your child will often appear cross-eyed. Eyes may seem to float towards the nose or far apart. The muscles around his eyes will strengthen to work as a team within about 8 weeks from birth.
Between 2 weeks and 2 months, your baby’s tear ducts will be developed and you’ll see real tears when he cries.
At about 3 months, your baby will start tracking moving objects with just her eyes, not turning her head. She’ll also begin reaching for things as she develops eye-hand coordination. Light sensitivity increases, so dim that nightlight.
By 5 months, your child will see the world in a fully 3-dimensional way and in good color. Studies show that children who crawl longer than their peers are able to use their eyes, hands and feet together more effectively than early walkers who did little crawling.
When your child celebrates his 5th birthday, his vision should be fully developed.
You can help your child develop good vision by:
• Decorating his nursery with bright, contrasting colors and shapes
• Change the location of the crib every week or so if possible, or place her head at different ends of the crib.
• Change items in the room frequently, giving him new visual stimulation
• Move objects – or yourself! – so your baby can practice tracking, reaching and moving.
Call your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professional at 708-424-7600 immediately if you notice:
• eyes seem to cross or misalign after 2 months of age
• lack of tears when crying after 2 months of age
• eyes “jump”
• consistently watery eye
• extreme sensitivity to light
• red, inflamed or crusty eye
• whiteness in the pupil
We are always happy to help!