What do babies see in their first year?

We always wonder how a baby can identify his or her primary caretaker – the mother from the time he/she is born. The vision faculty of a baby during its first year is still developing, and by the time we celebrate their first birthday, their vision gets as good as that of an adult. As a parent, it is vital to know the baby’s developmental milestones for the vision to ensure that everything is fine and take any precautionary or remedial measures as the case may be.


  • Newborn: At birth, a baby’s eyes are hypersensitive to light, and that is why you find their pupils are also small. Their eyesight takes much longer to develop. A newborn baby is only able to discern a shape with their peripheral vision as their central vision is still developing. As weeks pass by and their retina develops, they can see the light and dark patterns. Bright colours and large shapes grab their attention. They also tend to focus on the object right in front of them. More than you, they may prefer the brighter objects.
  • Two to four months: You may notice your baby’s eyes crossing or wandering too much, do not panic, as this is normal. However, if you do see that it is more often than usual that your infant is looking towards nose or outwards of the nose, visit a paediatrician immediately. At three months, your baby will now be able to track a moving object with a significant improvement in the eye and arm coordination with your baby reaching out for objects. If you notice that by this time, your baby is not interested in any moving objects, consult your doctor immediately.
  • Five to eight months: By this age, a baby’s depth perception (inherently how far an object it) has fully developed. They can view the world in three dimensions now. They have a better colour vision. You will find them now reaching out to their favourite objects. The baby also may start recognising both the parents by now and respond to their sounds by smiling. Around eight months, they start crawling, which improves their eye-hand coordination.
  • Nine to twelve months: By this time, babies can judge distance and start to stand by pulling themselves up with the help of objects around. By the time they are celebrating their first birthday, they would have started walking with improved grasping power.

Caring for baby eyes

Eye or vision problems at an early age can delay or stunt the baby’s overall development. It is crucial that we catch them at an early stage for better treatment outcomes. Following are some of the tips to properly care for your baby’s eyes:

  • Watch out for any milestone lapses in the eye and vision development such as significant delay in tracking objects, inward or outward turning eyes, etc.
  • Never miss the milestone screenings with your paediatrician as that would help catch the issues in time.
  • Ensure that your baby’s eyes are not exposed to harsh light, sharp objects, foreign particles, etc. to avoid any permanent damage.
  • Ensure your child has a healthy diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals to keep the eyes healthy.

Consult a top Ophthalmologist

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  • Baby’s vision development – what to expect in first year – Accessed on November 23, 2017 – https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/baby-vision-development-first-year
  • Eyes – your baby’s eyes – Accessed on November 23, 2017 – https://www.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/parents-and-carers/fact-sheets/eyes-your-babys-eyes


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