Baby’s Vision Development: How Vision Evolves During Infancy

Baby’s Vision Development: How Vision Evolves During Infancy

Learn how your baby’s vision develops from birth to 2 years old, and what milestones to look for in their eye and vision growth.

Every infant’s vision development progresses at its own rate, though certain visual milestones are typically reached during this stage.

As your infant reaches one year of life, their eyesight should become increasingly clear. Your pediatrician will make regular check-up visits to check on this development process.

At Birth

Although all babies develop at their own pace, pediatricians and ophthalmologists monitor milestones to ensure infant vision development on an average trajectory. These include visual acuity, tracking, color perception and depth perception.

Newborn infants typically have poor eyesight; they cannot perceive objects located too far away. They are capable of focusing on high contrast objects, such as faces or bright colors – although it remains unknown whether they can differentiate among similar hues until at least two months of age.

By three months old, your baby should be able to hold their gaze steadily and track moving objects with one eye (binocular vision). They’re beginning to understand object permanence – hence why they love playing peek-a-boo – while by five months their ability to judge distance (depth perception) should have reached levels comparable with adults’ abilities.

At Two Weeks

At two weeks old, newborns can see nearby objects with peripheral vision (side vision), though their central vision remains limited. At this stage they may also detect bright colors and large shapes.

At this age, babies begin recognizing familiar faces from a distance of 8-12 inches, particularly those that smile and interact with them. They may be able to recognize familiar ones from 8-12 inches away.

Infants learn to control their eye movements and eye-body coordination skills during this stage, tracking moving objects with their eyes before grasping at them with both hands. Furthermore, infants may develop the ability to identify friendly from unfriendly faces.

By six months old, your infant should have developed enough vision and depth perception to read an eye chart and undergo an eye exam with an ophthalmopaediatrician for a comprehensive exam.

At One Month

As newborns transition from their dark, peaceful environment in the womb into the bright and noisy world outside, their eyes begin absorbing lots of visual information; however, their visual system must learn how to relay this data back to their brain.

At two weeks old, infants can already focus on objects within their field of vision – approximately 8-10 inches away – as well as adjust their gaze in response to moving objects.

Infants begin developing enhanced and sharper visual acuity during months two and three, being able to quickly change their gaze in response to moving objects, as well as recognize faces when presented to them.

Infants’ color vision also improves over time, but is less sensitive than that of adults. Infants can distinguish between black, white and primary colors.

At Three Months

Infants within their first month can see objects up to three feet away and focus briefly on them, with colors and shapes especially appealing to them.1 Colors can only be perceived when objects are close enough for them to see, thus restricting what colors can be seen at one time [2]. While infants may recognize brightly-colored objects initially, early reaching efforts may more often than not be guided by proprioceptive cues from how an object feels in their hands rather than simply seeing what they have reached for [3].

Over time, baby vision undergoes significant progress. They develop better visual acuity, eye movements become coordinated better as a team and they start tracking moving objects with their gaze. Their field of view widens to about 8-10 inches and they can distinguish colors such as red, orange, yellow, green and blue for themselves. Their eyes become increasingly sensitive to light so it’s advisable to keep the room dimly lit.

At Four Months

By now, your infant should have well-functioning eyes that allow him or her to follow moving objects with their gaze. If this proves challenging for any reason, consult a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Your infant should also be able to better recognize distance (depth perception), and they should be able to reach for objects close or far away. Their color vision should also be fairly good at this age – though perhaps not quite as keen.

As your baby develops, their vision will continue to change and advance. There are various things you can do to aid this process, such as engaging your infant with age-appropriate toys and scheduling regular eye exams with a pediatric ophthalmologist. Eating nutritiously during gestation and refraining from smoking during birth are also beneficial in aiding their overall brain and eye development – the sooner it occurs the easier interactions they’ll be able to have in their new world!

At Five Months

Infants at this stage have gained the ability to see objects far away, although they still prefer closer objects as their retinas have yet to mature completely, leaving their pupils narrow. Infants now take notice of light/dark contrasts as well as patterns. Bright colors also catch their interest.

By now, their eyes are working more seamlessly together and can move their gaze from one object to the next without shifting their head. Furthermore, they have gained the ability to recognize faces and other objects they know well.

Babies at this age typically develop good color vision and depth perception, though their eye-hand coordination may not yet be fully developed like that seen in adults. Furthermore, depth perception enables babies to grasp three dimensional space. As part of a healthy baby checkup schedule it is recommended that healthy babies get their eyes regularly examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist; otherwise they should seek medical advice immediately if signs of visual issues emerge.


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