Baby visual development
Following
Following the specified course(s)...
X
There was an error while trying to follow the specified course(s).
Check that you are not currently following them or please try again later.

Thank you
Next
1 of 7
my list
Cancel x

Enter your email:

Enter the email addresses you want to share this with:

Thank you!
Page was successfully shared!
You have finished viewing your e-Prescription!
Take a Course
or
Close
Alice Maclaine

Child development and education expert. Qualified Montessori teacher and children’s yoga teacher – including children with special needs.
{{ ellipsisText }}
start your course

Physical development

Baby visual development

This article describes what's normal and what's not with your baby's vision. There are general signs you can look out for that may suggest a problem, and would mean you should take your baby to your Doctor to be checked over.
Video Tutorial
In Short
Your baby's sight develops as she grows.

Newborn babies focus best at around 30 cm - the distance from a breastfeeding baby to her Mum's face.

In the first few days after birth, your baby should be doing the following:

Turning their eyes towards a big light source, like a window when the blind is opened;

Closing their eyes to sudden bright light;

Being drawn to moving objects, such as your face.

By 6 weeks they should be able to fix and follow on an object.

Baby visual development

Baby’s aren’t born with perfect vision and there are several developmental steps they need to go through.

Your baby’s sight at birth

A newborn baby’s eyesight is quite blurry and the best focus for them is around 30 cm. This is perfect for them to focus on their Mum’s face when breastfeeding.

In the first few days after birth, your baby should be doing the following:

  • Turning their eyes towards a big light source, like a window when the blind is opened;
  • Closing their eyes to sudden bright light;
  • Being drawn to moving objects, such as your face.
Fixing and following

The ability to focus on one thing, like your face, is called fixing. Babies can do this quite early on.

As your baby grows, they should be able to track slow side to side movements of nearby objects, like a dangling toy, or your face. This is called following.

You can introduce games that help your baby develop their eyesight. To help them practice fixing and following try showing them a favourite toy (black, white and red are good colours and face designs are very popular with babies) at the magic 30cm from their face. This is where their focus is strongest as described above. Then move it very slowly left and right so that they can follow it with their gaze.

If by about 6 weeks of age you don’t think your baby is fixing and following, then you should go and get them checked by your doctor.

Cross-eyes and squinty eyes

Newborn baby’s eyes often looked cross-eyed or squinty but if it seems to be happening all the time, or if they seem to have difficulty moving their eyes in one direction, it’s worth checking with your health visitor or doctor.

Premature baby’s eyesight

Your baby’s eyes only finish growing at the end of pregnancy so babies who arrive early may have less control of their eyes yet. This is quite normal and you would expect their vision to strengthen as they come towards their expected birth date.

However, if they are premature or ‘small for dates’ they will be specifically assessed for ‘retinopathy of prematurity’ caused by not having fully developed blood vessels to the retina (the back of the eye that receives light and sends messages to the brain about colour, contrast and movement in the environment). Retinopathy of prematurity is treatable if screened and spotted.

Share the knowledge
DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.