What can my baby see?

Your babies vision improves drastically within the first 8 months of life. If you have ever wondered what and how far your little one can see and when you can expect improvements, then you should look no further:

What do newborns see?

Typically, you will be told your newborn can focus 10-12 inches away, just enough to see Mummy’s face whilst she feeds. Whilst this isn’t wholly inaccurate – it isn’t completely accurate either. When your little one is born, she is capable of fully focusing on any object that is both near or far, however, there are special muscles in our eyes called ciliary muscles which automatically contract or relax to enable your eye to focus properly on any given object; whilst these muscles are developing your newborn is unable to consistently focus with accuracy. By about 2 months of age, these muscles should have developed well enough to improve focus but your little ones brain and retina still need to develop to enable clear, accurate vision; the retina has over 100 million cells in each eye and the part of of the eye responsible for clear vision (called the fovea) takes longer than the lens to mature and work properly. So, even though at 2 months old your baby’s eyes can focus properly, the image projected onto the retina that then falls onto the fovea is still quite blurry. It is said that this blurriness caused by nervous system immaturity’s results in baby’s vision being six times worse than an adults. (If an adult has 20/20 vision, a newborn has 20/120 – if she could read, she could manage the top letter of an eye test). – This obviously means your baby has a rich visual world and more importantly can see your eyes, lips, hair, her own hands, fingers, feet and toes. This is probably why parents are told your baby can focus 10-12 inches away.

Are black and white toys best?

Babies are naturally attracted to high contrasting colours and you can’t get much higher than 100% contrast (black and white). The fact is baby’s colour vision is much better than most people seem to think; in the first month of life, newborns can distinguish between two shades of grey that differ by only 5% (5% contrast). By 2 months they can distinguish between two shades of grey with a 0.5% contrast. Your baby will enjoy and be attracted to black and white toys/mats etc but in terms of helping your child’s visual development, they make no difference at all. In fact, giving your child a break from high contrast colours and patterns may be a good idea once in a while to allow her to explore other, more interesting things such as your face and her hands etc.

When can they see colours?

Babies colour vision isn’t as rich or as sensitive to colours as an adults as the fovea (again) still needs to develop. It is unlikely that babies will be able to distinguish between similar colour differences such as pastel colours or red and reddish orange for example. It is thought that children as young as 2 weeks old have colour vision that can distinguish between 2 different colours.

When will my baby recognise my face?

Being able to see your face and recognising your face are obviously 2 very different things. A tend to look at and pay attention tontine borders of objects such as your hair. At around 2 months of age, this changes and your baby will begin to focus more on your internal features such as your lips, eyes and nose. Around 4 or 5 months, your little one will be able to recognise and distinguish you from every other person in the world.

Resources: ski.org